Okinawa prefectural police, Marine investigators express appreciation for keeping island safe
Okinawa City - Marines and a Japanese civilian employee with the Criminal Investigation Division of the Camp Foster Provost Marshal’s Office received letters of appreciation Feb. 20 during a ceremony at the Okinawa City Police Station, Okinawa Prefectural Police Department.
The Marines awarded are Gunnery Sgt. Terry D. Lewis, a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Staff Sgt. Andrew P. Smith, a native of Rosemount, Minnesota, and Sgt. Jacob V. Rogers, a native of Twentynine Palms, California. The Japanese civilian Master Labor Contract employee is Kaoru Kishimoto, of Nago City.
The Marines and Kishimoto are investigators with CID, PMO, Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Japan.
The Okinawa City Police Department presented the awards to the Marines for their efforts in preventing accidents and solving crimes throughout 2014.
The recognition continued when the Okito Taxi Company received a letter of appreciation from the CID Feb. 24 at the Okito Taxi Company headquarters in Urasoe City, Okinawa.
The letter of appreciation from Marine and MLC investigators was awarded to the taxi company, which is contracted with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, for their cooperation in detecting fraudulent credit card activity, as well as turning in to the proper authorities belongings that were left in the taxis.
The ceremonies demonstrated the ongoing partnership that Marines and citizens of Okinawa have developed with the goal of keeping the community safe.
Master Labor Contract employees, who are credential CID agents, play an important role in helping to solve community crime by enabling CID Marines and Okinawa citizens the ability to communicate with and understand each other, according to Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Ponte, the investigations officer with CID, PMO, MCIPAC. MLCs are employees of the Japan Defense Ministry who work on U.S. bases in support of the Japan/U.S. defense alliance.
“In law enforcement, we rely on many different relationships with people who may have information to help us solve our investigations,” said Ponte, a native of Portsmouth, Virginia. “(Okinawa law enforcement and businesses) play an important part in solving our cases. Their cooperation helps us maintain evidence to hold offenders accountable for crimes they have committed.”
CID observes crimes that commonly occur on and off military installations, according to Gunnery Sgt. Terry D. Lewis, a district chief and investigator with CID, PMO, MCIPAC. They work with Okinawa businesses and law enforcement to develop strategies that prevent crimes from occurring. Businesses such as the Okito Taxi Company do their part by staying vigilant and reporting suspicious activity to PMO.
The Okinawa Prefectural Police also work with Marines by informing PMO of local crime trends, so Marines know what to be aware of and how to identify suspicious activity while off the installation.
“They bring to our attention to what crimes are commonly occurring in the Okinawa public, even if a service member is not involved,” said Lewis, a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
PMO is always available and prepared to respond to calls for any crisis, according to Ponte. Marines are well-educated and know how to properly respond to virtually any scenario, he said.
“It is apparent that PMO is willing and eager to work with Okinawa law enforcement to provide the support they need for evidence in their cases,” said Ponte. “CID works undercover to collect information and evidence to ensure the safety of the residents of the island.”
CID stressed the importance of taking measures to stop crimes long before they ever happen, and how it is the responsibility of service members and the people of Okinawa to collaborate on prevention.
“It’s not always about investigating crime after it happens,” said Ponte. “We anticipate issues and problems, and work with the people of Okinawa to enforce strategies that could potentially inhibit future crimes from occurring.”