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Homeland Security

OSI 'protecting the force' at New Orleans airport

by Staff Sgt. Bryan Bouchard
4th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

9/15/2005 - NEW ORLEANS (AFPN) -- When Air Force Office of Special Investigations special agents arrived at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on Sept. 6, their mission was to help protect 4th Air Expeditionary Group Airmen deployed here.

“We’re conducting local criminal threat assessments to determine if there are any threats to Airmen transiting the local area while contributing to efforts after the hurricane,” said Special Agent Joseph Jordan, deployed from OSI Detachment 216 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.

Agent Jordan and his partner Special Agent Craig Golden, who is also from Seymour Johnson, initially inspected and evaluated the security of the Air Force’s encampment at the airport.

Primarily, the two agents were looking for criminal threats to Airmen assigned here, not forsaking critical anti-terrorism measures needed to ensure a full-spectrum threat assessment. Fortunately, the local threat has not been significant.

Agent Golden said that since most of the New Orleans population evacuated during the first week, local law enforcement officials are policing those who remained. Working and coordinating with law enforcement agencies in the area has been key to OSI’s mission here.

“We’ve probably met and worked with 50 to 60 different agencies since we arrived,” Agent Golden said.

From the FBI to the Louisiana State Police to even the New York Police Department, the two agents have been diligent in their duties to the point that they’ve happened upon incidents unrelated to their mission.

“We were able to ascertain some information relating to felony criminal activities in New Orleans,” Agent Jordan said. “We then handed the information over to other federal agencies to pursue.”

Agent Golden pointed out that one of the agents’ primary responsibilities has been providing safe traveling routes for Airmen traversing the South Louisiana area, while being careful not to impede recovery efforts unrelated to the Air Force mission. But being badge-carrying federal agents, Airmen from the OSI are a vital link between law enforcement agencies in the area and the military.

“Most agencies know who the OSI agents are and are happy to assist in any way they can,” Agent Jordan said.

Normally, the New Orleans area falls under the purview of agents at Keesler AFB, Miss. Agent Jordan said that since those agents are back in business at Keesler, he and Agent Golden are preparing to pack up and head back to North Carolina.

“In the first 72 hours, the crime level rose dramatically,” Agent Jordan said. “There was looting, shootings, homicides and rapes. As most of the people evacuated, the crime level dropped significantly.”

“Local law enforcement and their reactions to the activities here have suppressed any significant criminal threat in the area,” Agent Golden said.

“Now, New Orleans is probably the safest city in the country,” Agent Jordan said.

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