Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

MacDill Air Force Base installing new computerized ID system

TAMPA — MacDill Air Force Base is bringing its gate security into the 21st century, and possibly beyond.

After decades of eyeballing identification cards and waving people through, Hillsborough County's second-largest employer is installing a computer database system with scannable ID cards.

One day, this Defense Biometric ID System could follow in the path of high-security military bases by replacing cards with fingerprint or hand scans.

"As times change, we need to look at our security measures to make sure we're up to date," said Sgt. Bryan Gatewood, a spokesman for the 13,000-employee base. "It's just one of the tools we're using to keep up with technology and keep Tampa Bay safe."

The cards provide a much-needed upgrade for a base that has had its share of security issues.

In June, a man and woman driving an sport utility vehicle that contained guns and ammunition tried to get through the MacDill security gate with fake IDs. And in May, an off-duty FBI agent shot and killed a visiting Army veteran after a confrontation and chase at the base.

Lt. Mark Graff said the new gate security system is not in response to any particular incident. The technology has been available for years and the base has had it since January 2009. Graff said installation, training and other factors have kept it from being implemented until this year.

Bases around the world, beginning with those in South Korea and Japan, have been using the system since the early 2000s. Some high-security bases, including those in Kuwait and Qatar, use electronic fingerprint or hand scans instead of cards.

Gatewood said he was unaware of any plans for MacDill to eventually use fingerprint scans, though the new database system will carry people's fingerprints on file and is capable of using scans in the future.

Besides a photo, the cards store biographical data including gender, height and weight that pops up on a screen when scanned.

The system will alert guards if the person reported a card stolen or is wanted by police. It can also determine at any given time how many people are on base.

While the new system is in place and ready to use, employees who regularly come and go on the base are still in the "educational phase" and all need to be issued new cards, said Staff Sgt. Victor Ferriera.

Military personnel, long-term contractors, civilian workers and retirees who regularly visit are among those who need to register for the new cards, which are expected to make security checks faster and easier once everyone has them. One-time or short-term visitors will not need to be in the system.

Base security officials have spread notices and bulletins urging everyone to register, Ferriera said. Anyone who flashes an old ID card at the gate will be reminded about the change.

Officials hope all employees and people who regularly visit the base will have the new security cards with bar codes by the end of the year.

Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8452.

MacDill Air Force Base installing new computerized ID system 08/10/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 9:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What you need to know for Thursday, June 29

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    See that thing in the water? No? That's the point. It's that time of the year when stingrays are often lurking in the sand, often not visibly. Remember to do the stingray shuffle if you're out at the beach this weekend. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  2. Pinellas beaches seeing fewer injuries from stingrays, but the summer is still young

    Environment

    FORT DE SOTO — Rebecca Glidden leaned back in her lifeguard chair, watching behind sunglasses as families splashed in the water at Fort De Soto's North Beach.

    A Clearwater water safety supervisor demonstrates the stingray shuffle. Pinellas beaches are reporting relatively few injuries from stingrays so far this year, but they anticipate more as the summer wears on. Officials are reminding beachgoers to do the shuffle when they enter the water and keep an eye out for purple flags flying from the lifeguard towers, which indicate stingray activity. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  3. Weeki Wachee River advocates agree to work to resolve issues

    Local Government

    WEEKI WACHEE — Degradation of the Weeki Wachee River is a complex mix of circumstances, with a variety of jurisdictions holding the authority to fix the problems. That has made finding solutions over the years more about frustration than success.

    A boat and kayak drift into one another as they share the narrow passage near Rogers Park on the Weeki Wachee River in March. Advocates fear too many vessels are damaging the river.
  4. Despite change in Cuba policy, cruise ships sail on

    Tourism

    TAMPA -- It's smooth sailing for cruises from Tampa to Havana, with the first of Carnival Cruise Line's 12 such excursions launching today, two months after Royal Caribbean's initial voyage from Port Tampa Bay to the island.

    The Empress of the Seas cruise ship docks at the Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 3 in Tampa. President Donald 

Trump's new Cuba policy may not hurt cruises to Havana at all. In fact, it may help these cruises. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  5. Lien forgiveness program aimed at blighted properties in Zephyrhills

    Local Government

    ZEPHYRHILLS — The city will begin offering a new residential lien forgiveness program in an effort to encourage improvements to properties and home ownership.

    City Manager Steve Spina said it is geared to foreclosures and properties for sale.