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More than meets the eye: Investigators dig into details

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – 21st Security Forces Squadron Investigator Seth McElyea takes finger prints as part of his investigative duties Sept. 12, 2016. SFS investigators bring experience and advanced training to the fight alongside other defenders to fulfill the squadron’s mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – 21st Security Forces Squadron Investigator Seth McElyea takes finger prints as part of his investigative duties Sept. 12, 2016. SFS investigators bring experience and advanced training to the fight alongside other defenders to fulfill the squadron’s mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Recording fingerprints is one way 21st Security Forces Squadron investigators gather information about a potential incident. Investigators work with patrols to make sure proper investigative practices are utilized on any case needing a closer look. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Recording fingerprints is one way 21st Security Forces Squadron investigators gather information about a potential incident. Investigators work with patrols to make sure proper investigative practices are utilized on any case needing a closer look. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

When an emergency or crime takes place on Peterson Air Force Base, members of the 21st Security Forces Squadron are often first to respond to the scene. They make sure people are safe, sites are clear of danger and the proper procedure is put in play dependent upon the situation.

The story is not always over when the initial incident ends. Some cases require a closer look and someone to dig deeper to discover the facts of the case. That’s when 21st SFS investigators get involved.

The investigations section is not the same as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The primary difference between the two is that OSI handles high profile cases like homicides, while the investigations section handles misdemeanors and lower profile situations, said Jeremy Guidry, 21st SFS NCO in charge of investigations. He and his team are the equivalent of detectives on a civilian police force.

“We try to be proactive,” Guidry explained. “We assist operations. Patrols respond and if it is needed, we investigate. We work with patrols to make sure proper investigations are done. What we bring to the fight is experience and advanced training. ”

The main difference between an investigator and a Security Forces defender is in the training. Investigators attend the Military Police Investigator course, where they learn how to properly handle a crime scene.

“We can respond to a simple assault, for example, process that crime scene and analyze the data,” said Guidry. “If it is (a situation) outside of our purview, we go to OSI.”

The more common cases investigators look into include drugs, unauthorized use of prescription medication, and positive urinalysis tests. When cases are drug related, Guidry said investigators work jointly with OSI to delve into the details.

Fraud investigations concerning government travel cards and Basic Allowance for Housing are handled frequently too, he said. Guidry’s team gathers information, and then pass it on to legal experts in the Judge Advocate General office for recommendations to give commanders for potential action.

“The purpose of all information gathering is to get the truth, get the facts and corroborate information,” said Investigator Kimberly Dykes. “We’re like a second set of eyes.”

21st SFS investigators work and train with local law enforcement agencies, Guidry said. There are collaboratives where they meet with local investigative units, including those of other area military installations, to share intelligence and build a common awareness of what is happening regionally.

“We bring back anything that is important to the base populace or Security Forces,” said Guidry.

After working as a defender, Dykes said she became interested in investigations because the job involves a lot of direct involvement with individuals.

“You can help a victim with resources,” she said. “You can talk to them and maybe prevent them from doing something later.”

Guidry said he always had an attraction to law enforcement, especially the investigative side of things. When he went to an Air Force recruiter with a friend, they talked about law enforcement careers and Guidry didn’t hesitate to enlist.

“At the end of the day it’s about getting the truth and making sure we thoroughly go through the investigative process to make sure we are getting the truth,” Dykes said. “It impacts people’s lives. Our report ultimately goes to the wing commander.”

“Our job is so important because ultimately we have someone’s career in our hands at some point,” Guidry said. “We want to get the best information. We are not here to judge you, we are here to get the facts.”

This is the third in a series of articles highlighting some of the major responsibilities of the 21st Security Forces Squadron.

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