Friday, July 25, 2014

TOP STORY >> It’s back to normal at LRAFB

Wednesday’s lockdown for almost four and a half hours after the report of a “suspicious person” at Little Rock Air Force Base had most on edge and sparked questions from others.

The Security Forces law-enforcement desk was told the person tried to forcibly gain access to a base building. Base investigators later found that “no threat existed,” according to a news release.

The incident occurred during an emergency readiness exercise. The release reads, “The report was a case of mistaken identity associated with the heightened awareness of a readiness exercise.”

The Leader’s Christy Hendricks, who was on base during the lockdown, said, “There was a moment when the atmosphere in the room turned from normal to intense, when things went from exercise to real world. We didn’t know details, just that we were on lockdown.

“The sirens were sounding every 10 minutes or so, and all we could do was sit in a locked room and wait.”

She added, “The airmen did their jobs, and everything turned out to be OK. Base leadership made the right call to investigate. They made sure we were safe.”

The base was locked down from 11:45 a.m. until 4:10 p.m. while the report that was not part of the exercise was investigated.

“We take all reports seriously and investigate them thoroughly,” Col. Patrick Rhatigan, 19th Airlift Wing commander, said in the news release. “Due to this report, I implemented a lockdown and our highly-trained Security Forces Air-men responded to secure our airmen, their families and Air Force resources.”

Most likely in response to some local residents who asked what the base was “hiding” by not releasing more details and not releasing information sooner, the release reads, “For security purposes and to prevent future incidents, the base’s policy is to not release information concerning response tactics.

“To ensure due diligence of safety and security measures, and verify that no threats existed, law enforcement personnel conducted a thorough sweep of the 6,100-acre base.”

Rhatigan also said in the release, “We understand yesterday’s lockdown caused difficulties and inconveniences for our base guests. While we apologize for the unplanned disruption, I am pleased to report no injuries or damages occurred during (Wednesday’s) lockdown.”