Dover Air Force Base signs partnership initiatives with state, local officials

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Dover Air Force Base’s 436th Airlift Wing commander Col. Michael Grismer Jr. fist bumps DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan after singing one of the agreements under the First State Community Partnership initiative at The Landings Club Wednesday morning. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE — Dover Air Force Base signed nine agreements under the First State Community Partnership Initiative Wednesday afternoon, all designed to help further build relationships through programs that provide value and benefit to both the base and the community surrounding it, officials said.

“It’s a great victory for everyone,” said Staff Sgt. Jesse Bechtel. “It’s a great victory for both the base and the local community.”

Some of the initiatives signed included the executive charter, adopt-an-airmen, a community garden, a civil air patrol license agreement, a financial stability program and a Law Enforcement Co-Op program.

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Hunt Military community director Sophia Reeves and Kent County economic development director Jim Waddington sign after singing one of the agreements under the First State Community Partnership initiative at The Landings Club Wednesday morning.

It’s a diverse mix of initiatives, expanding from public transportation on base to partnerships of education and recreation programs with Delaware Technical Community College and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

DAFB has worked hand-in-hand with leaders in the local public and private sector — including the city of Dover, Kent County, the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Kent Committee — to jointly leverage mutual capabilities in a resource-constrained environment, officials said.

“For the most part when they’re signed they usually are effective immediately,” Staff Sgt. Bechtel said. “It’s great and it just shows the collective effort of everyone that helped put this together.”

Lt. Col. Dana Metzger, commander of the 436 Security Forces Squadron, and Dover Police Deputy Chief Maj. Marvin Mailey praised the Law Enforcement Co-Op initiative.

“This has been nothing but beneficial for the both of us,” Lt. Col Metzger said. “We opened our fire range, so the police department doesn’t have to travel an additional 45 minutes to a different range. They can come down at any point in the day and use our range.

“Our troops are learning from them,” he added. “They have different skill sets that they bring when it comes to courses. We have guaranteed seats in their classes that they offer their police officers.”

He pointed to one particular example.

“The FBI course that they just had, we had two guaranteed seats,” Lt. Col. Metzger said. “That’s almost a $10,000 savings. I don’t have to send my guys to San Antonio to take this course. They can stay here and take it and that’s pretty huge for us.”

Maj. Mailey said both departments gain first-hand knowledge of each other.

“We have one goal in mind and that’s public safety,” Maj. Mailey said. “It’s a partnership. We’re the first responders to the DAFB in case of an emergency, or in case of an active shooter.

“Officers came out here recently for a joint exercise with the DAFB to simulate what the response would be like for an active shooter, so we can see how they handle things and vice versa.

He said DAFB helps the police department in other ways as well.

“They have several explosive canines,” Maj. Mailey said, referring to dogs trained to detect possible explosives. “Recently there have been a lot of bomb threats at our schools here in Dover.

“They help us out a lot because we don’t have explosive dogs. We have narcotic and patrol dogs and the cost savings for us is tremendous.”

He said it’s very easy to pick up the phone when Dover Police Department needs an explosives-detecting canine.

“It’s been great. I couldn’t ask for a better partner than the DAFB.”

For her part, Staff Master Sgt. Michelle Browning hopes to expand on the adopt-a-airmen initiative.

“Some of our community members and airmen think it’s just for the holidays,” she said. “It’s all year round,

“In the next couple of weeks we’re going to meet with the airmen and tell them that it’s not just the holidays.

“I think that’s going to make them feel more comfortable and may cause them to reach out more to the community.”

Kent County Levy Court Vice President Bradley Eaby said the initiatives are great for everyone.

“The Civil Air Patrol License Agreement allows other aircraft to land here and taxi over to the terminal,” Mr. Eaby said.

“The popularity of events like NASCAR, Firefly generates aircraft that aren’t able to park on the air terminal, but this will allow that.”

He said with today’s scarce resources it takes a lot of collaborations with many sectors to accomplish joint Dover Air Force Base and community goals.

“It was through all the hard work of everyone that this was able to happen,” Mr. Eaby said.

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