EL PASO, Texas - Fort Bliss commanding general Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard is defending the post's easy-access policy.
"In the immediate aftermath of a reported kidnapping that turned out to be a hoax, many keyboard warriors took to our official Facebook page last week to slam our easy-access policy for supposedly putting children at risk.,"Pittard said in a column in the Fort Bliss Monitor. "Many people demanded that we close the gates of Fort Bliss, walling ourselves off from the incredible 'dangers' lurking in El Paso. I'd like to respond to those people here: the easy-access policy is something we review constantly. The safety of our Soldiers, families, and civilians on Fort Bliss is always paramount to us. The easy-access policy is good for both Fort Bliss and El Paso. Some of the posts on Facebook created the impression that El Paso is some apocalyptic, lawless city where Mexican drug gangs roam the streets looking for children to kidnap. That skewed view of our great city could not be further from the truth."
Pittard then cited the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting database, saying El Paso has been the safest city with a population larger than 500,000 residends for three consecutive years.
"Since we made Fort Bliss an easy-access post, crime on Fort Bliss has decreased in every single category: assaults, aggravated assaults, larceny, shoplifting, weapons violation, and shoplifting," Pittard wrote. "In fact, Fort Bliss has one of the lowest crime rates in the entire Army. The majority of crimes that do take place on Fort Bliss are committed by residents of Fort Bliss—Soldiers or family members of Soldiers. The numbers simply don't lie! However, I know that many people fear the unknown or fear people who don't look like us or act like us. Building higher walls and higher fences around our community will not necessarily make us safer. Building bridges of trust, friendship, and understanding within Fort Bliss and El Paso will ultimately make us more secure. We must also always be vigilant and watchful to protect our community."
Pittard added that the easy-access policy ties Fort Bliss to El Paso.
"The partnership between Fort Bliss and El Paso dates back 164 years, with Soldiers and El Pasoans joining together to celebrate a shared culture and heritage," Pittard wrote. "This enduring linkage creates a sense of society that supports our Soldiers, Families, Civilians, and Retirees."