Fort Drum’s chief of police wants unaware community members to know that federal law prohibits unauthorized personnel from wearing a military uniform.
U.S. Code Section 771, titled “Unauthorized Wearing Prohibited,” states “no person except a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps, as the case may be, may wear the uniform, or a distinctive part of the uniform, of the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps; or a uniform any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of the uniform of the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps.”
“Our Soldiers should be the only ones wearing the military uniform,” said Todd Julian, chief of law enforcement, Directorate of Emergency Services. “They’re proud (to wear) it, and we should be proud of our Soldiers.
“The biggest problem we could be dealing with here is (if) civilians wear military uniforms, insignias or anything like that,” he said. “The reason we need to worry about that stuff is for force protection issues, not just here at Fort Drum, but all the installations in our country.
“Unfortunately,” he added, “that’s just the world we live in.”
Law enforcement officials here said an incident occurred at one of the gates several weeks ago in which a Soldier’s girlfriend allegedly tried to gain access to Fort Drum using one of her boyfriend’s uniforms. Julian said she even had a nametag made up and placed all the correct patches on the uniform.
“Of course, she didn’t have an ID card to match it,” he said. “That (prompted) us to start asking her questions. Since she was a civilian, basically what we did is we titled her under the U.S. Code, and it now goes to the magistrate court here on the installation.
“As innocent as the (incident) may be, somewhere down the road, it may not be innocent,” he continued. “We really need to stay on top of our force protection posture and be vigilant – not just us as a police force, but also the Fort Drum community. Everybody needs to be vigilant.”
Julian said he has heard that the wearing of military uniforms by unauthorized personnel has been an issue at other installations.
“We haven’t had to deal with a force protection issue like that here,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that we are not being watched today.
“If a civilian approaches our gate wearing a military uniform,” he added, “they are going to be asked for military identification. If they can’t provide that, it’s going to spur some questions from our personnel, and could lead to an arrest and legal consequences … regardless of how innocent it may be (intended).”
Avoid unlicensed driving
Julian also took a moment to urge community members to not drive on post with a suspended license.
“Aggravated unlicensed operation has become such a huge problem here at Fort Drum,” he said. “A lot of our Soldiers’ licenses are getting suspended for a lot of different reasons, (including) failure to pay tickets, failure to show up for court date, failing to pay child support and previous DWIs.
“The bottom line, and really the main fix here for this whole problem, is individual responsibility,” Julian continued. “That is what needs to be stressed. …We are working hand in hand with the 91st Military Police Battalion to try to get the information out to the chains of command and the leadership (in the units).”
He said one reason many Soldiers’ licenses are suspended is for failing to pay responsibility assessment fee – annual charges administered by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to drivers convicted of various traffic violations.
“People know if they have a ticket, and they have to pay it,” Julian said. “The majority of people know if their license has been suspended or is about to get suspended.”