Stories of the Highway Patrol
HIGHWAY PATROLMEN AID MOTORISTS:
A white car with a black hood cruises along the autobahn at 40 mph headed for Augsburg. Suddenly in the other direction toward Ulm, an army 2 ˝ ton truck zooms past moving at what appears to be a speed far in excess of its 40 mph speed limit. The black and white car makes a hasty turn at the first cross-over and moves in pursuit of the larger vehicle.
In this manner, an autobahn highway patrolman has commenced one phase of his duties; to stop excessive speeding of Army vehicles which can lead to serious trouble of one nature or another.
But the problem isn't solved yet. For safety purposes, the man behind the wheel of the patrol car must not exceed 60 mph. He moves along at this speed until the car is near enough to the truck that is possible to check the huge vehicle's speed against the patrol car's carefully calibrated speedometer. According to highway patrol rules, you don't write a man up on suspicion. When the patrolman has assured himself that a speed limit is being violated, he pulls his car alongside the speeding truck, gives a short blast or two on his siren and both vehicles pull off the traffic way at the first parkplatz.
his face, an unidentified driver has his driver's license and vehicle
The highway patrolman gets out of his car and moves to the driver’s side of the huge truck. Courtesy is the word as he politely asks the offending driver for his ID card, Army driver’s license and trip ticket. If any of these three are incorrectly filled out it is a military violation, but probably the MP will only explain this fact to the driver and show him how it should be corrected. It is the belief of the Military Police that in many cases of minor violation it is better to warn the offender than to make a formal report for the administration of punishment.
Not so lightly brushed aside, however, is the subject of the speeding truck for the patrolman has his ticket book in hand and is writing. The truck driver may say that his speedometer has a mechanical defect. Highway patrolmen will not argue the point—they let the other individual do the talking. In such a case, the patrolman would make out the ticket but suggest that the driver report the malfunction to his dispatcher.
Tickets given by the highway patrol are in three copies One goes to the offender on the spot while the other two are sent to the Provost Marshal’s office. One of the latter two will eventually find its way down to the man’s company commander who may administer punishment as he feels befits the situation. The Provost Marshal may ask the offender’s CO to reply by endorsement concerning the manner in which the situation was handled.
Actual ticket writing is of lesser importance in the highway patrolmen’s work, however, as their approach to the autobahn traffic problem is one of preventive enforcement. That is, when the patrol cars drive up and down the road, people see their cars and automatically drive more carefully realizing the consequences that could result from a violation. In keeping with this theory, autobahn patrolmen are forbidden to hide in places where they can observe autobahn traffic without being seen themselves. Thus the main traffic violations, speed and accidents, are curbed.
Speed enforcement is not the only duty of the highway patrolmen who cover Alfa 6 South, MP code for the autobahn from Munich to Salzburg, Alfa 6 West, autobahn from Munich to Heidelberg, or Alfa 3 North, autobahn from Munich to Nurnburg.
Other important duties are Alfa Tango Tango, MP key words for aid to travelers and signal 18, key words for “made contact with another person or unit.” Alfa Tango Tango can cover anything from changing a flat tire to, most common, loaning five gallons of gas from the can always carried in the trunk to the American motorist who didn’t believe his gas gauge at the last EES station. “Signal 18” may cover anything from rushing rabies vaccine to a hospital to aid a GI bitten by a rabid fox, to transporting important documents between distant headquarters.
It’s an Alfa Tango Tango also when Sgt. Herman Hughs, Det, C 62nd Highway Patrol, pulls up beside a 3/4 ton Army truck where Sgt. Joseph Cilpninano, 42nd AAA Bn., is working with the truck’s carburetor. Ten minutes later the truck motor is idling smoothly as Sgt. Cilpnano remarks, “Sergeant, I don’t know what you did but I’ve been fooling with this thing for two hours.”
Keeping Tabs on accidents on the autobahn, Sgt William C. Beasley operates the radio station at the Highway Patrol on the Augsburg autobahn cut-off. Calls from this station alert patrolmen to mishaps on the super highway.
There’s more at stake than the Alfa Tango Tango however, when a highway patrolman gets a call on the radio, which is always turned on to provide never ending contact with the control unit, concerning a “23” [MP signal code for accident] at any location within his patrol area.
Moving from whatever he might have been doing when the call came through, the patrolman gets to the scene of the accident as quickly as possible seldom knowing just exactly what he will find at his destination. It may be a case where two buses have sideswiped resulting in eight casualties and 22 injuries, or it may be that of a drunken driver has merely driven his car off an embankment injuring nothing but the car.
In any event the patrolman moves in to give aid, control the situation, and secure the accident investigation facts. He’ll later have a complete accident report to fill out giving detailed information covering all aspects of the incident which will be forwarded to the Provost Marshal.
A highway patrolman may be called on to furnish escort service to American Express money laden trucks, ambulances or VIP’s. In this case his mission is safe and efficient guiding of the escorted object to a designated area.
Highway patrol cars are well equipped for any situation they may confront. Besides the invaluable radio, the car has numerous articles of emergency equipment in the trunk. Standard equipment includes an ax, wrecking bar, wool blanket, five gallons of gas, extinguisher, railway warning flares, jack, first-aid kit, rope, shovel and spotlight.
Naturally, the patrol’s main concern involves military personnel, equipment and dependents of service personnel, as well as DA civilians. They have no jurisdiction over other than military personnel in military equipment, or military personnel dependents and DA civilians driving a car bearing 6C license plates. To better serve these people, each highway patrol building, located at intervals along the autobahn for housing the men and operational activities, is also an information desk. Here military people, or tourist can check detailed maps, get the latest weather condition, or find answers to multitudinous other problems.
Change Of Autobahn
Detachment “C-H,” commanded by Capt. O.D. Oglesby with headquarters at Augsburg, has charge of all the autobahn plus many secondary roads in the 27,000 square miles of SACOM territory. This area is covered with 36 patrol cars operating out of highway patrol stations in Chiemsee, Stuttgart, Nurnberg and Augsburg. Heidelberg is headquarters for Maj. Joseph B. Byrnes who commands the highway patrol covering all autobahns in Western Germany.
Getting assigned to the highway patrol detachment is not the easiest thing for a military policeman. All patrolmen are interviewed to determine their interest in tins sort of activity. Any record of court martial or disciplinary action of any sort will probably be sufficient reason for keeping a prospective MP out of the high standard highway patrol. Civilian and military accident records also have an influence on any decision made.
Once in a highway patrol unit, a man subjects himself to the 11 commandments of this unit. These compel an individual to be courteous, obedient, accurate, immaculate, dean and respectful among Other things.
Each patrolman handles all the first echelon maintenance on his vehicle. That is, they wash the car and keep it clean from motor to trunk. A maintenance check and grease job is administered every 2000 miles to make sure the cars are always in tip-top condition.
Military obligations are not all is the highway patrolman’s duty. He works in close cooperation with two other autobahn organizations One of these is the German civilian police [Landpolizei], and the other are the men on yellow motor bikes who patrol the highway offering free assistance to anyone experiencing mechanical difficulties. These yellow bikes are sponsored by the German automobile association. The bikes are operated by superior mechanics who always have a store of knowledge plus spare parts at their disposal.
Excellent cooperation exist between the highway patrol and the German Police. If a patrolman discovers an accident between two German civilians he will immediately radio for the German Police but will administer aid, and control the situation just as he would do for Americans until the police arrive. German police handle like situations between Americans in the same manner. Should the accident involve Americans and Germans, then the police and the highway patrol share the responsibility.
This story previously appeared in Volume # 3, Issue # 2, April-May 2000 edition of "The White Mice"