The commander of the Navy Region Southeast has ordered security procedures be tightened after a sailor aboard a ship in Norfolk, Virginia, was slain by a civilian transportation worker in March.
Naval installations from South Carolina to the Gulf Coast of Texas, including NAS Jax, are implementing a new series of background checks and tightened security measures that mean more and more people could be denied access to the base.
”They typically check ID, that's my experience,” said local government contractor Bryan Dyer, “but maybe they will do even more with the upgrade.”
The tightened security measures are the result of a tragic incident in March. Convicted felon Jeffrey Tyrone Savage gained access to the Norfolk Naval Station and shot and killed Petty Officer Mark Mayo. Naval officials said Savage should have been denied access to the base.
”They definitely need to look at everything,” Dyer said, “because usually it's because of someone's temperament or emotional or political attachment that makes them do these off-the-wall things.”
As part of the tightened security, access to Navy bases is now being denied to felons who have been convicted in the past 10 years, to any member of a group that advocates overthrowing the government, and to anyone convicted of an offense meeting sexual offender criteria. Security will also deny access to any person barred from a Navy installation.
”They are starting to get a better grasp on it,” retired Navy sailor Jim Sorenson said. “When you go to the gate, they want you take your ID out and scan it to match the person with the person driving.”
Sorenson said he worries that technology today makes it easier for people to produce fraudulent documents, but he thinks the improved procedures will help.
”It was a lot more secure when I was in,” Sorenson said. “You couldn't get your ID online.”
A Naval spokesperson released a statement Thursday that says: “The Navy Region Southeast has released a security directive to conduct random national crime information screenings of personnel requesting access to the installations, using a transportation worker identification credential.”
“They have to do whatever they have to do to protect the people,” Dyer said.
The Navy spokesperson also said rules could be tightened even further in the future.