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  • Military Police

    Well I know we have a few MPs here so I might as well ask. What exactly do MPs do compared to regular police? Are they just police on military grounds or what? Thanks.
    ~The Python~

  • #2
    Well that depends largely on what part of the world they are serving in. MP's posted on bases in my country don't do a whole heck of a lot of law enforcement and even if they wanted to are generally handcuffed, so to speak, by military leadership. I don't consider them to be in anyway involved with real law enforcement, and I don't mean that as the knock it probably sounds like, but they are military personnel, they are not cops. On bases they spend much of their time looking into breaches of military discipline that would not be remotely illegal in the civilian world. Their jurisdiction in anything is confined entirely to defence dept. property.

    Overseas MP's perform various functions, primarily security related but some even see combat duty. It can be a tough, stressful job at times, but it's not analagous to civilian law enforcement.

    Different jobs.


    • #3
      PC August: were you an MP? While some of your post may be true, such as that jurisdiction is solely on military property, others such as: "On bases they spend much of their time looking into breaches of military discipline that would not be remotely illegal in the civilian world" is not.

      Last time I checked domestic violence, traffic law violations including DWI, thefts, assaults and vandalism were illegal in the civilian world too. Granted Air Force security forces (equivalent to Army and Marine MP's) also protect aircraft and missile weapon systems and are more akin to industrial security guards, they also perform patrol functions. I've made arrests of civilians and testified in federal district court on a couple of occasions.

      Having served for 13 years in this field and 3 in civilian law enforcement, I can say that the role of a military policeman is often similar to that of a small town police officer. However, on many Marine bases and several Army bases, the population often approaches 50-60,000 people and there is occasionally major crime.

      No, the training I received in the Air Force is nowhere near that of a civilian officer, nor was the duty exactly alike, but I can say there is some similarity. Matter of fact that's my biggest bone of contention with the Air Force, the training lags far behind that of an Army and Marine MP.
      "A man's got to know his limitations" --Inspector Harry Callahan in Magnum Force


      • #4
        Well, I figured that post of mine might steam a few MP's. I actually meant to mention something you did but forgot to: that if the base is big enough, and there is enough military housing around, then yes, the MP's assume a role similar to smaller town police and yes, occasionally major crime will happen. That being said I do not have much faith in MP's to investigate major crimes such as homicide and sexual assault, not in my country. Some of your guys may be more experienced and that's fine. That's why I said it depends where you are. The base I served on there were very few, if any, incidents of major crime, NO fatal or serious auto accidents, and even when there was a crime committed by a service member, the commanding officer would usually insist that no criminal charges be pressed, rather service discipline imposed instead. And he'd always get his way.

        I stand very firmly by my earlier comment, the fact is much of an MP's time here is spent looking into simple breaches of miltary discipline. What else would they be doing? Looking into all the serious crime that isn't occurring? I have no doubt things are different on a base of 60,000 people, I'm just telling you the way it is as I know it.
        Last edited by PC August; 11-12-2003, 12:02 PM.


        • #5
          Is it hard to arrest bad military people? Don't they have access to weapons?
          ~The Python~


          • #6
            Originally posted by The Python
            Is it hard to arrest bad military people? Don't they have access to weapons?
            I dunno, but Im pretty sure you cant carry(conceled) on base. And I dunno if you are allowed to keep weapons in your house/dorm/room at all.


            • #7
              Enlisted personal who live on base must register and keep all privately owned firearms in the base armory. I'm not sure if this changes for officers or for personal not living on base grounds. Issued weapons would always be in the armory when not being trained or deployed with.


              • #8
                I'll put my 2 cents in, since i'm an MP and all. I'm going to dissagree with you, PC August, on several points. Military police are in the service, like you said, but we're not just regular soliders. While in garrison (working patrol and gates) our duties are the same as any civilian officer. We enforce all traffic, state, federal, and UCMJ rules and laws on base.

                We work domestic violence, fights, shootings, traffic accidents, thefts, homicides, drug busts, drunk drivers, sexual assaults, everything and anything. We do traffic stops enforcing the same traffic laws the civilian officers enforce. Our patrol cars are outfitted with front and rear radar, video cameras, and lights and sirens just like civilian cars. I have been to too many domestics, t/a's, and other calls to count. I've been in both foot pursuits and car pursuits. We work hand in hand with the civilian authorities of the surrounds cities/counties.

                You're right when you say that the average MP can't or shouldn't do big cases, because they're not supposed to. That's what MPI (Military Police Investigators), CID (Criminal Investigative Division) and Traffic (all major T/A's) are for. That's just like every civilian police department that I know of.

                So as you can see, we don't just enforce the UCMJ. And for anyone that may have the misconception that MP's only have authority over military personell, i'll go ahead and clear that up now. Anybody that enters a military installation, military or civilian, MP's have authority. I've apprehended probably just as many civilians as military people.

                As far as the "commanding officer" not wanting anything to happen to his soldier, it really dosn't matter what he wants or not. We are the ones that bring charges up on criminals and there's nothing their commander can do about it.

                As far as the weapon carry laws, you can bring a weapon onto a military installation as long it is out of reach of the driver/passengers, however, the only place a weapon can stored on base is in an arms room. We apprehend people that try to gain access to base with weapons or that are caught on base that are breaking the weapon laws. To bring the weapon on base you have to have proper paperwork that shows the weapon is yours and that it is registered. This applies to enlisted, officers, and civilians.

                I think I just about touched everything. I'm sure someone will respond to this, so bring it.

                Oh, and PC August, what country are you from where the MP's are so horrible?
                The only thing evil needs to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.


                • #9
                  Well, you're not exactly disagreeing with me. I fully concede that MP's might be busier in other parts of the countries and on certian bases. In fact I went out of my way to make that point. The MP's in my country are not horrible nor did I AT ANY TIME suggest they were. They are probably very good at what they do, but for the most part they don't do what regular civilian cops do. As for C.O.'s not having any say in matters, I know differently. I have two buddies who were MP's, neither of them ever laid a criminal charge. CO's talk to Provost Marshals, Provost Marshals wield to pressure, crim charges are dropped, service discipline charges are pressed instead. I'm not saying it happens all the time for all charges, just that it does happen. And yes, I am well aware that any civvie who steps onto military grounds is subject to MP's authority. I said only that their authority ends where military property ends. On the street MP's have no more authority than my milkman.

                  I've said all I'm going to say on this issue. MP's serve a role in the military and it is very often a valuable one. Military communities can be tough places, no doubt, I've lived in them. I just don't feel MP's are on the level of civilian cops when it comes to law enforcement. Period. It's how I feel from what I have seen and heard myself, and from the MP's I have worked with. They are different jobs man.


                  • #10
                    I'll address the original question first.

                    The US Army Military Police Corps has FIVE functions:
                    1. Maneuver and Mobility Support Operations
                    2. Inernment and Resettlement Operations
                    3. Area Security
                    4. Police Intelligence Operations
                    5. Law Enforcement Operations

                    As you can see, Law Enforcement is a small, yet important part of what we do. I agree with Army MP on most points. A couple that were left out: most MP's are trained in civil disturbance (riot control) and less than lethal weapons. We also have to learn new laws and statutes every time we move to a different location since we are charged with enforcing local laws as well as UCMJ. Most units also have a well trained SRT (Special Reaction Team) which is the equivilant of a civilian SWAT team on call.

                    One point I disagree on is:
                    the only place a weapon can stored on base is in an arms room.
                    This is accurate for duty weapons. All duty weapons are stored in an arms room. As far as personal weapons, while this is true in some places (overseas etc...) it is not accurate for most domestic bases. Junior soldiers cannot keep weapons in the barracks. They must be stored in an arms room. Once you live in NCO, Officer or family housing, you can have weapons in your quarters provided they are properly registered on base and with the local civilian agency. I personally keep a loaded 9mm in my nightstand and am not breaking any laws/rules by doing so.

                    One other point that has been mentioned is that unlike civilian police, when MPs are off duty, they have no authority. Even on base, as an MP, I have no law enforcement authority when I am not on shift. We are also not allowed to carry weapons on base while off duty.

                    I hope this answers some of your questions.
                    C. Davis

                    "Let us not forget those who gave their tomorrows for our todays"


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