The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 14, 2013

Military works to change culture to combat rape

(Continued)

Troops also are being trained to speak out if a higher-ranking officer behaves inappropriately, military authorities said.

In San Diego, Chief Petty Officer Tate said the roving patrols, along with other measures, seem to be making a difference.

Six months ago, the Navy banned pitchers of beer at bowling alleys and pizza parlors on all three of its bases in the city. At the same time, each base also launched a resident adviser program. Chief petty officers now live in every barrack and are trained to respond to situations that could spiral out of control.

Many of the resident advisers, like Tate, also serve on the roving patrols, which started in February and were modeled after a similar effort at the Navy's training facility for new recruits in Great Lakes, Ill. Sexual assaults there dropped by more than 60 percent over a two-year period.

In San Diego, rotating teams of two senior enlisted officers patrol from 7 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends, walking from barrack to barrack to peek in on communal areas before checking popular drinking spots.

On a warm May night at Naval Base San Diego, Tate and his partner stopped by picnic tables, a bowling alley and the rooftop hot tub on the base, which borders a working-class neighborhood near downtown. An adult entertainment shop sits on a crime-ridden street near the base; sailors are barred from the thoroughfare.

The most common infraction Tate said he had handled so far were male sailors violating base rules banning earrings. Still, he said he believed his impromptu appearances were helping to keep people in line.

"They know we're watching them," he said.

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