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Station to name off-limit areas

By Sgt. David A. Bryant | | August 19, 2004

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An off-limits board, also known as an Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board, convened on station to determine possible areas, businesses and establishments of concern to the safety, good order and discipline of station service members, civilian personnel and families.

The board will look into areas that pose potential criminal hazards, establishments that promote racial discrimination and businesses using unfair commercial practices targeting Marines, sailors and their families, said Maj. Charles C. Hale, director, Joint Law Center.

Some of the conditions that could place an area off-limits are related to disorder and lack of discipline, prostitution, high risk of sexually transmitted disease, liquor violations, racial or other discriminatory practices, alcohol and drug abuse, drug abuse paraphernalia, criminal or illegal activities involving cults or hate groups, illicit gambling, areas susceptible to terrorist activities, unfair commercial or consumer practice or any other undesirable condition that may adversely affect service members or their families, according to Station Order 1620.1B.

"This is not an attempt to control what Marines do on liberty, and we're not out to 'get' certain establishments," Hale said. "This is an attempt to promote good order and discipline and protect the health and safety of Marines. Since it can affect businesses economically, it is not something that is lightly done out of hand."

While most major military bases, such as Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., or MCB Camp Lejeune, N.C., have long-standing boards to determine areas of concern, Yuma has not had the need in recent years, Hale said. However, with the growth and expansion of the city of Yuma, more areas are becoming a concern for the physical, moral and financial safety of service members and their families.

"Say a geographical area is placed off-limits. The order won't just blanket the entire area, because there may be some places that are okay to go to," Hale said. "If the high-risk activity only occurs after dark, say, then it will only be during those times that the area is off-limits."

If an area, business or establishment is placed off-limits, however, then it is considered a legal, binding order. Station Order 1620.1B is the binding order on service members, and also sets the guidelines for the off-limits Board to consider, act upon and place an area off-limits.

According to the order, "the board provides a forum for all commanders aboard the air station who seek to have an area or specific location placed off-limits to military personnel."

The board is then required to investigate the request and make recommendations to the station commanding officer.

"A business will be notified if they are being considered by the off-limits board and will have plenty of chances to correct the situation before being placed off-limits," Hale said. "They will be given the opportunity to work with the installation to address the concerns of the board.

"This also helps promote the positive health and safety of the community," Hale added. "Thank goodness our community leaders have maintained such close ties with local businesses, because we don't have the problem places such as (MCB Camp) Pendleton and (MCB Camp) Lejeune do."

The board also gives the local community a chance to see what the station is doing about areas of concern, and is not only a safety tool for station personnel, but for the community, Hale said.

"This board is composed of 17 voting members from a broad cross section of the air station and is not set up to be a 'knee-jerk' reaction to the news of the day. It will not be dominated by one particular group of people," Hale said. "The process is set up so that no place can be put off-limits without due process."

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