Ask the Captain - Q&A (continued)
Question (March 2015): It's been almost a month since the Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield exercise, but the traffic barriers remain in place at Pleasant Valley gate. This creates a traffic flow problem and delays, especially going in the gate. Because of the barriers, the two lanes immediately merge into one lane. Drivers must coordinate with the car next to them to drive around the barriers safely and not cause an accident. The exercise is over, so why are barriers still in place?
Answer: Thank you for allowing me to address this issue. The barriers were placed at Pleasant Valley Gate as part of the Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield exercise but remain in place because they are part of a larger barrier plan we are working for all Naval Base Ventura County access points.
Pleasant Valley Gate, much like Las Posas Gate, has a long, straight road leading up to the Entry Control Point (ECP), then a long straight road into the installation behind it. Although we’ve put in temporary speed bumps at both gates, they are still not as effective in slowing down a speeding vehicle trying to get past security guards and onto the installation. In addition to the risk of a driver running the gate, many drivers exiting the installation do so at high rates of speed which presents a safety hazard. Placing barriers in a serpentine both increases the security of the installation and the physical safety of those working our gates.
As I write this, there have not been any accidents in the month since the barriers were erected, and we have tested the lanes with fire trucks and other large equipment to ensure they are safe to enter and exit. It does require more coordination coming through in the morning, but that extra step makes us all more careful drivers when we come through the gates.
A more likely cause of the delay you mention is the implementation of 100 percent scanner use at the gates, which initially created delays but is becoming less of an issue. All military-issued and Navy commercial access credentials are now scanned to verify access credentials, and those whose credentials fail are denied unescorted access. The first time an ID is scanned, it can take several seconds to register in the database, and that did cause some longer-than-normal waits for the first couple of weeks. As more and more people get their first scan complete, this should become a transparent, easy process for us all.
Question (November 2014): I ride my bike to work every day, and I’ve been nearly struck by cars passing too closely or not yielding my right of way. Sometimes there aren’t bike lanes to use and often there is too much debris to operate on the shoulder. Can you remind drivers to safely share the road?
Answer: Thank you for the opportunity to address this issue. Motorists and bicyclists can safely share the road, but each must be aware of the rules and be respectful of one another.
Motorists in California, must, if possible, give cyclists 3 feet of space when passing. If not possible, you must slow down to a safe speed before attempting to go around them. Cyclists have a legal right to share the road with you, even where bike lanes exist. Although the bike lane is their designated lane of travel, cyclists may need to leave it due to impassability or hazards such as parked cars or debris. Treat them as you would any other legal vehicle operator. Don’t follow too closely, don’t crowd them, and be mindful of where they are.
Cyclists can help by being sure they, too, are obeying the rules of the road. Bikes are vehicles and should be operated as such. Sidewalks are not for bicycles, even if there are not bike lanes. Proper safety equipment, including helmets, reflectors, and headlights, must be used. Traffic laws, including speed limits, stop signs and traffic direction must also be followed to ensure safe cooperation on the roadways.
Question (August 2014): What are the regulations regarding animals being left in a vehicle? If the animal has plenty of ventilation and has plenty of food and water would an officer site/fine the employee?
Answer: Thank you for allowing me to address this issue. There are no Navy-specific regulations regarding leaving animals unattended in a vehicle. Naval Base Ventura County Force Protection uses California Penal Code guidelines, as laid out in California Penal Code section 597.7.
In short, the code says that if you leave an animal in an unattended motor vehicle under conditions that threaten the animal’s health or well-being, you can be cited for a violation of the code. Additionally, law enforcement, animal control or humane officers may remove animals in apparent duress from a vehicle, even if it means breaking in.
Even with food and water, relatively mild days can lead to stifling temperatures inside of motor vehicles. According to studies conducted by the San Francisco State University’s Department of Geosciences, vehicle temperatures rise an average of 19 degrees Fahrenheit in the first 10 minutes, and leaving windows partially open for ventilation has little effect.
Question (March 2014): I have noticed that many people do not stop walking or driving during morning colors. On my way to work some mornings, I am nearly rear-ended by people trying to zip around me as I pull to a stop out of respect for the flag ceremony. Am I wrong, or is everyone just ignoring proper flag etiquette?
Answer: I have also noticed people ignoring proper etiquette during morning and evening colors. My guess is that people are simply unaware of proper etiquette for these longstanding traditions; others may not hear the national anthem or taps over the base loudspeaker system.
All personnel are to render proper honors during the playing of morning and evening colors. Military personnel outdoors, when covered in uniform and within earshot, shall face the flag or in the direction of the music and salute during the playing of the national anthem. Military members not in uniform are to stand at attention but do not need to salute. Others are to stand quietly until the completion of colors, signified by the bugle call “Carry On.”
During colors, vehicles within sight or hearing of colors shall be stopped. Drivers remain stopped until the conclusion of colors. Persons riding in vehicles shall remain seated.
As a reminder to all employees and residents, colors are observed onboard Naval Base Ventura County every morning at 8 a.m. and every evening at sunset.
Question (February 2014): I noticed new signs at the gates that say “100% ID Check,” and I am confused. Is this a new process? I thought you always had to show your military ID to come on base.
Answer: Thank you for allowing me to clarify the policy. You are correct that military identification has always been required to enter the installation, particularly after 9-11. It is a way to positively identify that an individual has business aboard the installation and the privilege or clearance to do so.
Some installations, however, only check the driver’s identification if the vehicle is registered and displays a Department of Defense decal. At Naval Base Ventura County, we’ve always checked the identification of each adult occupant of the vehicle due to the classified nature of the various missions conducted on the installation and Sea Test Range.
Now that decals are no longer being issued, it is even more important to conduct 100 percent ID checks, but it still catches some people off guard. The posted signs make the policy clear and remind people to be prepared and have their IDs readily available. Permanent signs are on order and will be placed at each gate once they are available.
Question (January 2013): The state of California does not require that military members register their vehicles – and submit to a smog check - when they move here. When registering my vehicle at Pass and ID, they said that I need to submit a smog check. If California doesn't require military members to smog check their car, why should NBVC?
Answer: Thank you for allowing me to address this. The requirement the staff at Pass and ID is enforcing is not a Naval Base Ventura County requirement, but instead is a Chief of Naval Operations requirement.
OPNAVINST 11200.5D, Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, covers a variety of topics, but Chapter 3 is devoted to vehicle registration standards. If you live, work, or frequent a U.S. military installation, you are required to register your vehicle. To do so, you must have a valid driver’s license, valid registration, and you must comply with the safety and air quality requirements of the state where the facility is located, rather than where your vehicle is registered.
You aren’t required to register your vehicle in California as a courtesy to military members with the understanding that we will enforce certain set standards as well, not as a pass to avoid meeting state standards. I realize that it can be expensive to get a vehicle tested, repaired and re-tested, but it’s the right thing to do – legally and environmentally.
You can visit http://dmv.ca.gov/vr/smogfaq.htm for more information about California’s smog testing standards. There are even links to programs that can help determine repair costs and/or buy back older cars that can’t pass inspection.
Question (July 2012): I've recently started taking my 6 year old daughter for bike rides around base. And I've noticed that little attention is paid to the "no parking" signs on 34th Ave going towards Bard gate. We usually have to pass by about 6 cars that are parked in the bike lane. Which means taking my daughter on the road and I don’t feel too comfortable doing that. I’m trying to keep off the narrow sidewalks so the pedestrians have plenty of room, but more enforcement of the parking in that area would be appreciated.
Answer: Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I had Force Protection look into the issue, and what we found is that many people who are parking in those no-parking zones also live along the street, but their homes only have parking for one vehicle. Their second car – often necessary for dual-income families – are parked on the street, which is, as you pointed out, obstructing the bike lanes. Force Protection, Public Works and Lincoln Military Housing have worked together to determine a mutually beneficial solution to this problem. After conducting a traffic engineering analysis, we’ve decided to make the entire north side of 34th Avenue, the side where the Child Development Center is located, a posted "No Parking" zone. Parking will, however, be allowed on the south side, providing a sufficient and safe space for bicycle lanes in both directions of 34th Ave. This course of action will allow convenient parking for residents and also provide for a safe environment for all motorists, cyclists and residents alike.
Question (September 2012): V/r request you consider putting speed bumps on Addor Street, specifically on the portion parallel to Ventura. Two or three of average height would be perfect.
There are many children on this street, as in most of our neighborhoods and I fear an irresponsible driver may strike my or someone else's child. I'm very concerned for my and other children's safety. Your consideration of this request is greatly appreciated.
Answer: Speeding is a dangerous activity, more so when the speeder is driving through housing areas, and curtailing this behavior is key to ensuring the safety of our neighborhoods.
Installations are prohibited from installing speed bumps or intentional traffic calming hazards such as dips or traverse ridges per AR 420–72 (Army Regulation for Transportation Infrastructure and Dams), which is the guiding document for Department of Defense installations. NBVC has speed humps at the main entry control points at both Port Hueneme and Point Mugu due to the confined configuration and inability to safely and effectively employ serpentine jersey barriers. This is purely a measure of protection for the gate sentries and not an ideal condition.
We have posted speed limit signs and signs indicating children are at play. I have asked Force Protection to move a digital speed readout sign to the area to increase driving awareness. They will also increase their patrols and enforcement action in all of our housing areas, identifying “hot spots” that will receive further attention. We ask that anyone who witnesses a driver violating the speed limit or driving in an unsafe manner contact Force Protection immediately at 805-982-4591 with as much descriptive information as possible. This will help establish where the biggest problem areas lie. Together we can help curb this behavior.
Question (November 2012): Why aren’t the gate guards saluting officers when they come through the gates? It seems disrespectful.
Answer: As the Commanding Officer of Naval Base Ventura County, let me assure you that the pride and professionalism of our security personnel is paramount. Our civilian security personnel are the "Front Line" for the installation and they literally have the safety and security of our Sailors, their families, our dedicated civilian personnel and critical missions in their hands.
To directly answer your concerns, CNIC policy has recently changed regarding salutes rendered by civilian contract security and Department of the Navy civilian police officers. This policy is in line with US Navy Regulations.
Salutes are a custom between military members dating back as far as Roman times when soldiers approached each other in a manner to indicate they were not armed. The custom evolved over many centuries in many militaries, but it has always been a custom between military members. It is also important to understand that the salute is a custom of mutual respect. That is why both members salute when each is recognized.
Two key points here: One is that salutes are between military members. At NBVC, our gate guards are civilian security personnel and not required or expected to salute military members. Second, on the occasion that a military member is standing the watch at our gates, they will salute active duty officers, and as a courtesy, retired officers, when recognized either by being in uniform and/or by providing their military ID card. DoD vehicle stickers, while a form of corroborating identification, are not proper military identification. If you have ever left your ID card at home and tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to the installation, you know that this is true. In short, we salute people, not cars.
I expect that our civilian guards will continue to display outstanding professionalism and customer service at our gates. They will render a proper greeting, verify proper identification, allow access to our installation and state “Welcome to Naval Base Ventura County.” While no one is perfect and we may fall short of expectations, we will always strive to do our very best in representing our installation and our Navy.
Question (October 2012): I keep hearing rumors about a rash of break-ins in base housing. What is Force Protection doing to keep housing residents safe?
Answer: Thank you for giving me a chance to address these rumors about base-wide crime at Naval Base Ventura County. I’ve heard many of the same rumors, and asked the head of Force Protection to look into it. Here’s what he discovered:
In the first nine months of 2012, there were 14 reported burglaries at NBVC. Half of these involved someone entering homes, the other half were thefts from cars and garages. Only three of these crimes involved forced entry – a removed window screen, for instance – and only a five of those reporting the burglaries could confirm they had secured their possessions. In other words, garages were open and cars were left unlocked and someone just walked in and took what was there. These were crimes of opportunity.
Living on base is a safe choice for your family. You live in a gated community that is patrolled by federal police officers and requires a 100 percent identification check to enter. You can help make it even safer by making sure you take some basic precautions: remove valuables from your vehicles and remember to lock your doors and close garages when you aren’t around to see who is going in and out of them. If you’re leaving for a vacation, let your neighbors know. If you notice suspicious activity, report it immediately to Force Protection at 805-982-4591 or the NBVC Quarterdeck at 805-989-7209.
Question (September 2012): Skipper, would it be possible to remind everyone on base that bicyclists are required to obey the same laws as motorists? I was walking from the parking lot to the air terminal, in the crosswalk with a walk signal, and was cut off by a cyclist who ran the light.
Answer: Thank you for giving us all a reminder. We take time to teach our children to ride their bikes safely, but sometimes forget to take that advice for ourselves.
Cyclists: you are required to follow the same traffic laws as motor vehicles. This includes riding with the flow of traffic, rather than against, stopping at stop signs and traffic lights and yielding right of way to pedestrians. Speed limits also apply, although it’s harder to speed on a bike! Those found in violation of these basic traffic rules can be cited.
Cyclists are also required to wear helmets at all times while aboard NBVC. Helmets really do save lives, and proper safety equipment is as crucial. Traffic safety should be taken seriously by everyone. Whether you're riding, driving, or biking down the road, observing safety standards will help get you there in one piece, and your passengers, too. Let's keep our base a safe place for everyone.
Question (April 2013): Last year, policy changed and we didn’t have to wear reflective vests on our motorcycles. Last week, a gate guard stopped me and told me I needed to wear one. Which is correct?
Answer: Thank you for allowing me to address this issue. Last year, Navy regulation changed regarding the requirement regarding reflective vests, allowing motorcyclists to come aboard without reflective vests. In March, the Commander of Navy Region Southwest (CNRSW) made a change requiring them for active duty military aboard CNRSW installations.
COMNAVREGSW Instruction 1020.1C, published March 8, governs uniform policy and regulations in the region. In addition to setting summer and winter uniform changeover dates, the instruction addresses the wear of uniforms on and off base and while riding motorcycles.
Active duty military riding motorcycles are required to wear reflective vests while riding and a reflective stripe on any backpack they might wear over the vest. As this is a military uniform policy, civilian riders are not affected, but for safety reasons, we always like to encourage reflective clothing and other safety measures for all motorcycle riders.
The policy also addresses appropriate wear of other Navy uniforms, such as flight suits and coveralls or Navy Working Uniforms. In short, it is a great instruction to get familiar with if you’re a member of the military at a CNRSW installation.
Question (September 2012): There have been changes to motorcycle policies for the Navy, such as reflective vest requirements. According to OPNAVINST 5100.12J, signed 26 June 2012, reflective vests are no longer mandatory to wear during limited visibility, but only recommended. As with all things, regulations can be made stricter, but I would like to know if NBVC is following the new instruction or filing our own addendum.
Answer: Thank you for your submission. Naval Base Ventura County does not currently have a local traffic safety instruction. As such, OPNAVINST 5100.12J applies. However, Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, Navy Region Southwest commanding officer, paid us a visit Sept. 12 and let us know that he is concerned about the safety of motorcyclists aboard NRSW bases. He is approving a regional instruction that will require everyone – military and civilian – to wear reflective vests when riding aboard any Navy base in the region. Additionally, he plans to prohibit the practice of lane splitting aboard regional Navy installations.
We want you to be safe while enjoying the year-round motorcycle weather we enjoy here at NBVC. Enjoy your motorcycle safely and you’ll always get where you’re going.
Question (February 2013): I just renewed my car sticker and was surprised at the insistence to use my Social Security number. My command and others I work with have made aggressive changes to comply with the PII (personally identifiable information) policy directives, including the elimination of using Social Security numbers unless it in connection with the Social Security Office. I ask that you please inquire as to why the CAC and driver’s license number also requested cannot be used instead.
Answer: The Department of the Navy has been aggressive about eliminating the use of Social Security numbers in our daily operations. We’ve started a phased approach, directed by the chief information officer, as you noted. However, agencies outside the federal government, particularly law enforcement agencies, have not made the move away from using the Social Security number as a cross-database identifier. Anytime we must rely on law enforcement databases during vehicle registration and/or background checks for base access, Social Security numbers are required. Thank you for your understanding.
Question (May 2012): Good afternoon Captain, I have a question and concern regarding the collection of SSNs by base police. I work at NSWC Port Hueneme, and my building has a recurrent issue with the fire alarm (activates constantly). The alarm went off once again this past Tuesday, 15 May, and firefighters/base police showed up. The police officer that showed up asked me for my CAC and SSN so he could write an incident report. He said I had to give him my SSN for the report, and that there's a naval instruction that requires employees to do so. He didn't provide the instruction number after I questioned him. Do you know what the instruction is for providing SSNs for base police reports? My concern is the handling of this information. The police officer wrote my SSN on a small report book, and he said it stays with him at all times and gets locked up in his locker at night. How do I know that's true? I'm very concerned about where my SSN is right now. I also understand that there's a push to stop collecting SSNs throughout the Navy (PII Info Alert: DON CIO Washington DC 171625Z FEB 2012). I'd like to know what steps the base police takes to safeguard employee PII. I would greatly appreciate your guidance on this matter. Thank you for your time.
Answer: Several databases – such as the one Force Protection personnel use throughout the Navy – require social security numbers to track individuals. Although you are correct that there is a phased approach to reducing the use of SSNs in the Navy, the use here by Force Protection is permissible under the current phase. There are instructions that require cooperation with security and emergency management personnel when working and living on military installations, including providing true and accurate information for reports. The police on base take your privacy and your PII very seriously, and by policy and practice keep all equipment and information collected under lock and key as part of their standard operating procedures. I understand your concern for your personal information, and assure you that the professional police force here on base are our partners in safeguarding both our persons and our PII.
Question (June 2012): NBVC Security forces need to adhere to posted speed limits they enforce, unless responding to a call, which should require lights and or siren. It has been observed they excessively speed on Pacific road past housing areas. This poses a safety risk to members and family. Thanks.
Answer: Our officers should set the example by following all traffic regulations while patrolling to ensure everyone’s safety. I’ve discussed this issue with Force Protection and effective immediately, if you see one of our police/security not following traffic regulations, please call our Force Protection Director, Larry Jones, at 805-982-4584. Mr. Jones will need to know what the driver was doing incorrectly, the last three digits of the vehicle license plate number, date/time and location.
Question (June 2012): Sir, I never expected the kind of insulting comments that I received from a DoD police officer the last time I visited the base. I weigh more than I wish I did, but I am within the Navy's standard for body fat and have never failed a PHA. Unfortunately, on my last visit to Pt. Hueneme one of the DoD officers at the North gate made derogatory remarks about my size. I believe his comment was, "You're in the Navy? You look like you're about to bust out of that seat belt." I honestly would expect more professional behavior from a man in uniform.
Answer: First, let me apologize for the treatment you received at our gate. Everyone coming aboard Naval Base Ventura County should be treated with the dignity and respect owed our friends, neighbors and fellow service members. I expect everyone – military, civilians and contract employees – to perform their duties in a professional manner, and as the commanding officer I will accept nothing less. I had alerted our Force Protection director to the incident, and we both agree – this should never happen at Naval Base Ventura County. If you or any visitor experiences unprofessional behavior of any sort while aboard NBVC, call the Force Protection director at 805-982-4584 or the NBVC Command Duty Officer at 805-989-7209. Thank you for bringing this to my attention and thank you for your service to our Navy and our nation.
Question (February 2012): It seems that the security department on board Point Mugu ONLY drive around our neighborhoods when called. Is there a reason for this? Last night (16Feb2012) a young male was wondering around Lark Dr. When confronted by my neighbor, his answer was that he was searching for his dog. I do not think that his dog was inside of my truck. If security does not provide better services on board Point Mugu and I end of having property losses, what are my legal resources?
Answer: Force protection is my number one priority. Since I’ve been aboard, I’ve been examining staffing levels, fence lines, equipment and trends. It’s our job to provide as safe an environment as we possibly can for you and your loved ones. The NBVC Police Department routinely patrols all areas of the installation, including housing areas. They have at their disposal marked, unmarked and K-9 patrol units. In areas where there are increased reports of suspicious or criminal activity – such as break-ins, vandalism or suspicious individuals – we respond immediately with a patrol to check it out and take reports and in the long-term we temporarily increase patrols in the affected area. This helps us track our trouble spots and provide the best service possible.
The police can’t be everywhere, though, and they need our help to keep our community safe. Remember to report anything suspicious immediately by calling the base police. Don’t confront, but definitely don’t delay. I live on base too, and I want my family and yours to be safe and secure. We have to remember to secure our homes and vehicles; most reports we receive on base involve unlocked doors and unsecured property. Our personal vigilance will help make the community as a whole better and safer. Thank you for your vigilance and for giving us a chance to address your concerns.
Question (April 2012): Flow of Traffic at Bard and Sunkist Gate Rush hour or not, traffic at these base gates gets hectic. Gate guards doing their best to get traffic flowing in from across and from the north lanes of Ventura Road. Drivers trying to get into the gate with the green light they are on (instead of leaving the intersection and pedestrian lanes open and wait for the next green light). Some gate guards do their best by doubling up at Bard Gate so they get the traffic flowing (Either there is no pedestrian traffic or they stop pedestrians from entering the gate). Some gate guards don't move from where they are standing and give some drivers an attitude as they go thru the gate. I'm not sure which is the best solution but here are my suggestions. 1. Across the board, all gate guards do the same SOP, be it doubling up or not move from their post. We're sending mix signals of gate guard procedures that frustrates both drivers and gate guards. 2. Coordinate with local traffic authorities (or personnel in charge of traffic lights) to prolong the duration of the green light from the north bound lane of Ventura Road. At the same time, inform all drivers to leave the intersections and pedestrian lanes open. 3. Leave it as it is and complain about gate guards who got an attitude.
Answer: Thank you for all your suggestions. I always say if you have a complaint about a process, have a better solution handy! Our gate guards are our first line of defense, and as you pointed out, they do their best to keep traffic flowing. Each gate represents a specific, unique challenge. To deal with these challenges, we occasionally assign additional guards to gates during busy times. Every guard follows a specific SOP that is closely monitored by on-site supervisors. None of those SOPs allow guards to be rude or have an attitude. If that happens, I would like you to immediately report it to Force Protection at 805-982-4587/4584. We need to know as soon as possible so that we can make it clear that such behavior is unacceptable. We’re maintaining a strong force protection posture, but we can do so politely.
As for changing the traffic light durations, our Public Works Department is in constant contact with the city regarding traffic lights and flow. This is something we monitor closely in partnership with the surrounding communities, and your suggestion gives us valuable feedback. Thank you for taking the time to make your suggestions, and know that we value your time and your input.