One Man's Passion Leads to Successful Police Hiring Rate
24 February 2021, By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News

It might take a village to raise a child, as the saying goes, but sometimes a single person can make a difference in something as large as the Defense Department's law-enforcement field.

The colleagues of Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Copper Jr. say he did just that when a need arose for a direct-hire authority to get civilian DOD peace officers around the world hired in a timely manner, and to make sure the law-enforcement mission continued without staff shortages. There are about 9,200 people in DOD law enforcement, excluding military police.

The lieutenant colonel was one of many Pentagon peace officers. He made sure the Air Force got the direct-hire authority when the issue first arose in 2018, and that authority has progressed DOD-wide because of his efforts, his colleagues said.

Copper passed away in August 2020. In December, he was posthumously awarded the first Law Enforcement Officer Certification because of his commitment to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, in addition to his work on the direct-hire authority. He was the Air Force commissioner of POST.

"Brian was a wonderful person and a great patriot; his enthusiasm was contagious. He is greatly missed." Shelley A. Verdejo, Director, Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission

Receiving his officer's commission in 2001 after military enlistment in 1989, Copper commanded squadrons within security forces at multiple locations throughout his career.

"He knew firsthand as a young airman and [non-commissioned officer] what it meant to be a law enforcement professional, and how important training was to those guys who are out there on the front lines. He had a unique perspective, having done it as an airman and then as a commander in a unit," Vince Heitmaan, senior law enforcement advisor to the office of the undersecretary of intelligence and security, said.

"Lt. Col Copper was very involved with making sure that all the partners within the department including [the military services] were all aware that we were pursuing this initiative, and that if we did it as a collective group, we'd have much more success," Jorge Vargasmorales, an action officer with the POST training and force development division, explained.

Copper, he noted, was quite instrumental in providing the points-of-contact that others collaborated with and they were able to obtain the DOD-wide hiring authority. The department-wide authority was issued in September 2020.

"Our goal is to make this a permanent direct-hire authority that will be included in the national defense," Vargasmorales explained, adding there are also 26 members of the law enforcement caucus in Congress. "When they were made aware [of the direct-hire authority], they were excited and had significant interest to make sure that these types of efforts become [reality]," he said of the caucus.

Among the military services, hiring and retention issues fell to the wayside, Vargasmorales added. It now takes about 86 days to hire a peace officer, and the fastest hire took only 50 days.

Dedicated to the direct-hire authority for use throughout the DOD, Copper was intimately involved in the effort and attended meeting after meeting to make sure the authority came to fruition, his colleagues said.

"He was a unique individual," Vargasmorales said. "He was passionate about everything. Whenever he put his effort behind something, it was always all or nothing with him. On the [direct-hire authority], he was instrumental in educating senior leaders, too."

Copper, he noted, could translate what is traditionally a very complex process in simple, understandable, bite sizes for leaders, he said.

"He was always the person who was an inclusion guy," Vargasmorales said. "He was really big on making sure that we all knew what each other was doing. He was always very open to expanding the conversation."

Cooper could light up a room when he entered. "We felt Brian exuded all of the things we would want law enforcement officers in the Department of Defense to be," Shelley A. Verdejo, POST director and chief of the law enforcement division in USD (I&S), said. "Brian was a wonderful person and a great patriot; his enthusiasm was contagious. He is greatly missed."







Brig Gen Collins and CMSgt Lewis would like to congratulate and wish their best to the colonel selects:












Promotion to 0-6 recognizes the significant dedication to the Security Forces mission of defending the base. Thank you for your hard work and congratulations again on this milestone achievement.

VR – R.
Director of Security Forces

Cuero, Texas
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From the Security Forces Directorate: Year in Review

Defenders -

2020 has been a fast-paced year for Defender Nation. Our Security Forces Enterprise navigated tough decisions on security and risk to maintain unblinking security for our installations at home and abroad. We enable the Department of the Air Force to fly, fight and win in air, space, and cyberspace. To continue this success, we must be ready to respond to emerging threats across all domains.

The top priority as Security Forces leaders, is to protect the Air Force community while safeguarding and maintaining our ability to defend the nation and its interests. We will continue to protect our people and our mission.

COVID-19 placed force health protection into the forefront of our efforts.  We will continue to ensure that Defenders have the most up-to-date information and resources on appropriate measures to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

The risk-based measures we are taking are consistent with guidance from the Department of the Air Force, Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We put safety procedures in place for handling of identification cards, distancing and personal protective equipment.  I  am exploring the fielding of even more protective measures to include leveraging technology, where feasible and acceptable.

I understand these restrictions cause hardships on Defenders, families, and local communities. I encourage everyone to lean on their commands for support and guidance during this challenging time.

Defenders remain safe by practicing both professional “on the job” and personal “down time” safety protocols that ensure a high level of readiness. A personal safety focus ensures we mission success.

I am committed to preserving the ability of Defenders to execute mission-essential tasks worldwide.  To do this, our Defenders must continue receiving world-class training that outpaces our adversaries.  This is only be achieved through repetition and a culture of continuous improvement. This training does not stop during a COVID environment. In fact, we took an in-depth look at our Civilian, Enlisted and Officer Academy training to determine what precautions our cadres and trainees required to continue to produce Defenders while COVID infection rates continued to rise.  

As we navigated our way through the COVID crisis, we also had to look at our security and training processes related to the law enforcement protests over the summer. We found a few areas for improvement and although our senior leaders have a high level of satisfaction in Defender responses and decision-making to properly secure our installations, missions, families and each other, we did find some areas where we can – and will – do better.

I am especially proud of the progress we made this year on the Security Forces Enterprise Plan. Below are a few areas that show the elements we are prioritizing for success:

  • Human Capital: We pushed through the Direct Hire Authority to ensure entry level equitable pay with local Law Enforcement. We also revamped the Civilian-Enlisted-Officer (CEO) Training Academy to ensure proficient civilian forces.
  • Weapons: We continue to standardize our equipment, facilities and technology to enjoy efficiencies for funding, training and procurement. This makes us interoperable and multiplies the force. We started fielding the new M18 handgun and will continue fielding that and other weapons.
  • Equipment: We must raise our Defenders to a level where they perform at their best. We can only accomplish this performance level by setting high expectations and investing in them. Female Body Armor is one example of how the Air Force is investing in Defenders during the Year of Integrated Base Defense.
  • Defensive Base Operations: As part of the Year of Integrated Base Defense the Air Force is standing up a Defensive Base Operations Division to counter emerging air threats via a cross-functional Air Base Defense approach, leveraging existing technology while rapidly developing next-generation capabilities.
  • Technology Modernization: We must be demanding customers of industry and Air Force partners to seek out next-generation equipment and technology decisive for the battlefield. Teaming with AFOSI, the AF Justice Information System was put online in ten months, fulfilling a congressional mandate and has already made significant progress.

Defenders are true professionals. They maintain unblinking security every day with a smile and a commitment to do what’s right. Senior leaders impeccably trust in our Defenders’ responses and decision-making to properly secure our installations, missions, families and each other.

We will enter 2021 continuing to look at our policies, procedures and readiness. Together we will organize, train, and equip to ensure all Defenders remain proficient and ready. 

I look forward to what comes next for Defender Nation.

Brig Gen Collins

23d SFS Receives AF’s First Female Body Armor

By A1C Jasmine M. Barnes, 23d Wing Public Affairs, Published December 02, 2020

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Emily Souza, right, 23d Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of combat arms, helps U.S. Air Force Investigator Kaitlin Curtis, 23d SFS, adjust a shoulder strap Nov. 20, 2020, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. The 23d SFS is one of the first squadrons to field test female body armor as part of the Air Force Security Forces Center’s initiative to modernize individual protective equipment. The adjustable vest is cut shorter and contains a corset to fit different female forms and provide more comfort to female Airmen as they accomplish the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jasmine M. Barnes)


The 23d Security Forces Squadron received the first female body armor from the Air Force Nov. 3, here.

The 23d SFS, along with Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, received the new armor to provide more form-fitting and comfortable armor to female Airmen.

“Having the peace of mind of knowing that the equipment you’re issued is going to fit you accurately and protect you the way it should because it is made to fit your body makes women feel more mission-essential,” said Investigator Kaitlin Curtis, 23d SFS. “We’re a part of the team and we’re all here to do the same job.”

The armor has features to fit different female body shapes including a vest with an adjustable corset in the back, a shorter cut to fit females’ torsos and a shoulder cut to make it easier for women to accurately position their weapons in the shoulder pocket.

“It was nice to know that higher leadership in the Air Force listened to [our] complaints and … cared enough to want us to have [armor] that specifically fits us better,” said Curtis.

As more female Airmen became part of male-dominated career fields and deployed, leadership realized women were having more daily comfort issues than their male counterparts due to the standard vests not fitting properly. The process of creating the armor started when female Airmen voiced their concerns to flight and squadron leadership.

”[Female] Airmen brought up comfort and health issues, and we started taking a look at what we can do to fix it,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Lugar, 23d SFS NCO in charge of supply. We spoke with the Air Force Security Forces Center [Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas], and they pushed [the issues] up the chain. These particular issues got all the way up to the [Air Force chief of staff], and he decided it was important and put in the work to figure out what would be best for female Airmen.”

As an Air Combat Command base, Moody has a high deployment tempo, so the new armor was given as a solution to the problems women were facing while accomplishing the mission.

“Moody received female body armor first because they were one of three installations that were involved with the field evaluation that allowed us to get to the current solution,” said Master Sgt. Markus Nelson, Air Force Security Forces Center SF individual equipment manager. “[To show] appreciation for their assistance, we wanted to ensure Moody was one of the first units to receive female body armor.”

With the new armor, female Airmen will be able to accurately fire a rifle due to the better fit of the vest as well as run and lift their legs without the vest causing discomfort.

“The male vests hung so low on my waist that I had to take off the vest to use the restroom, leaving me more exposed,” said Curtis. “When we would go to fire our weapons, the vest was so wide on my chest that I couldn’t get the buttstock into my shoulder pocket.”

“Since the new armor was designed for a female body, [the vest] cut in more on my chest,” said Curtis. “I immediately noticed that I would be able to put the buttstock [of a rifle] into my shoulder without having any issues. Also, it didn’t bounce up and down when I ran or jumped because I was able to pull the corset in the back to make it tighter.”



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