Guard Soldiers and vehicles support police during winter storm
Spc. Christopher Partin, of Ballwin, and Spc. William Spencer, of Cedar Hill, both Soldiers with the 1175th Military Police Company, accompany St. Louis County Patrolman John Halliday to a house fire Tuesday on Wickstrom Terrace in Affton. (Bill Phelan photo)
By Bill Phelan
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Area law enforcement agencies are getting a helping hand from military police of the Missouri National Guard who are well-equipped to transport officers in severe winter weather.
Soldiers and vehicles of the 1175th Military Police, headquartered in St. Clair, and the 2175th Military Police Company, based in Hannibal, have been posted at St. Louis city and county police stations in the event they are needed to drive officers to an emergency call for service.
"This kind of weather makes it tough for us to get around," said St. Louis County Police Sgt. Jeff Hoots, of Affton, who works out of the South County Precinct on Telegraph Road. "So these National Guard Soldiers and their Humvees will assist us in getting to certain areas within our precinct that we might not be able to reach in a normal patrol vehicle."
On Tuesday afternoon, Spc. William Spencer, of Cedar Hill, and Spc. Christopher Partin, of Ballwin, both Soldiers with the 1175th, transported St. Louis County Patrolman John Halliday to a house fire on Wickstrom Terrace near Affton.
"Our officers have been having a lot of trouble in some of these subdivisions - getting their patrol cars stuck," said Capt. Michael Dierkes, commander of the Affton - Southwest Precinct. "We do have some four-wheel drive vehicles, but we could use more."
Capt. Shelby Wilson, commander of the 1175th, stressed that National Guard Soldiers would not perform the duties of police officers.
"Our primary mission is to provide our vehicles and our drivers to get officers to emergency calls," Wilson said. "We stationed 28 Soldiers and seven vehicles in St. Louis County and eight Soldiers and four vehicles in the city doing 12-hour shifts."
In addition to the military police, about 100 Soldiers of the 220th Engineer Company, headquartered in Festus, are standing by to clear roads and remove debris if called upon.
Because of the prediction for high winds creating blowing and drifting snow, Guard officials said Soldiers in the St. Louis area would remain on station throughout Wednesday.
The military police are among 600 Air and Army National Guardsmen that have mobilized statewide in response to the winter storm. Governor Jay Nixon activated the Guard after declaring a state of emergency on Monday.
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com.