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Courtesy Patrol corrections can go too far, family members say

Nov. 5, 2013 - 04:53PM   |  
First Lt. Sherman Perez, of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, tells family members that proper headgear is required to skateboard on post.
First Lt. Sherman Perez, of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, tells family members that proper headgear is required to skateboard on post. (Sgt. Daniel Johnson / Army)
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First Lt. Andrew Maitner was recently at the post exchange when he noticed a woman wearing a see-through shirt. He could see her bra through her top and knew he had to say something.

“I approached her and I said ‘Ma’am, I apologize. However, I’m going to have to ask you that you please either change your shirt, and put on a shirt that does not reveal your undergarments, or I’m going to have to ask you to please leave the PX because you cannot display your undergarments where they are visibly seen,’” he said.

Maitner was on courtesy patrol detail at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and he was armed with the post’s policy memo onthe civilian dress code.

The Schofield courtesy patrol is one of several across the Army, enforcing the post dress code for civilians and family members, as well as soldiers. And the number is growing.

An Army spouse says correcting family members is “taking it too far.”

“If a soldier went up to my daughter and tried to correct her dress, I would not be happy,” said Jessica Olson, who grew up as an Army brat, enlisted in the Army when she was 21, and married a soldier. And while she said courtesy patrols are needed because she has seen the decline in soldiers’ appearance over the years, she said correcting civilians “crosses into dangerous territory.”

However, she said, as a military spouse and parent, it is her job to ensure that she and her family are dressed appropriately to represent her husband well. “It reflects directly on your soldier,” she said.

The appearance of family member also reflects on the Army, leaders said.

“They are part of our profession. We wouldn’t be here without our spouses or civilian counterparts,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ron Pflieger, signal regimental and senior mission command sergeant major at Fort Gordon, Ga. “We are trying to enforce our profession, show everybody, both on or off the installation that we are professionals, even if we are a spouse or a family member, or a contractor, or a department of the Army civilian or a retiree visiting the installation.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Stockton, garrison command sergeant major at Fort Gordon, said people can be banned from the installation for not adhering to the post policies signed by the commanding general.

At Schofield, Maitner said the courtesy patrols are briefed on how to approach civilians, and what they are allowed to do. For example, courtesy patrol members are not allowed to put their hands on a person, and if any situation escalates, they can call the military police.

“We have extremely professional leaders that are going out there to do this. They are extremely tactful, they are extremely fair, and they can all exercise great judgment,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert Parker, provost sergeant major for 25th Infantry Division. “They are very tactful when they talk with them and they show them in writing where it says that they are making a correction.”

On his courtesy patrol, Maitner said he corrected at least three women on dress code violations.

“Each one responded extremely well,” he said. “They were just unaware that that could not be done.”

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