Because of the Defense Biometric Identification System (DBIDS), there were 379 denials for access to NAS Patuxent River in the month of September alone.

USMC photo by Cpl. Justin Wheeler

LEXINGTON PARK, Md. — The Defense Biometric Identification System, better known as DBIDS, has been in effect at NAS Patuxent River since 2017, and has proven itself to be effective at managing personnel and installation access.

DBIDS is a Department of Defense system developed by the Defense Manpower Data Center as a force protection program. The system is used to enter personnel data into a database, capture biometric information, and retrieve that data and information for verification and validation at a later time.

“Everyone with base access has to be in the computer system that DBIDS pulls from,” said Lt. Charles Whittenton, Security Officer at Pax River.

DBIDS enhances installation security and communication by updating the database more frequently with information and providing continuous vetting each time a DBIDS card is scanned at an installation entry point.

Because of DBIDS, Whittenton noted there were 379 denials at the entry gates in just the month of September alone, not including turnarounds by people who approached by accident. Denials may come as a result of an individual being barred from the installation, the ID presented was reported lost or stolen, credentials presented are expired or invalid, and wants or warrants hits.

“A want or warrant can be issued by a judge for a slew of things,” Whittenton explained. “It’s always when someone is suspected of a charge or being charged with something and they’ve either failed to show, or been out on bail, and there’s been a violation of a statute they were not supposed to violate. They’re effectively having to be legally detained, arrested, apprehended and returned to the judge for adjudication. We definitely have people trying to get access who aren’t able to get access because they have wants or warrants or a criminal background that prevents them from coming onboard.”

Visitors attempting to obtain access are also vetted through the same database during their application process at the Pass and ID Office.

“They have to give information too, and if something is there, we’ll see it,” Whittenton said. “We’re not actively looking for people, we’re just trying to keep the wrong people out. So when we screen your record or information when you’re there, it pulls from the same database and it will pop up, as long as a governing authority or magistrate has put it there.”

There are also a number of reasons why someone might be barred from accessing Pax River and most of them are felonious offenses, Whittendon said, such as sexual assault, domestic violence or weapons violations.

“But here’s the big one that applies to our entire populace at Pax River: it’s something called ‘Disrespect to a Sentry,’” he added. “Refusal to show an ID, or cursing and exploding at officers are examples of Disrespect to a Sentry; and that will get you barred immediately.”

Whittenton admits that when DBIDS first arrived on the scene a number of years ago, he was skeptical.

“But then I started seeing the numbers and thought ‘we definitely need this,’” he said. “Sure, it delays people a bit [at the gates], but it’s worth it for the extra security.”

DBIDS cannot end all incidents, of course, but Whittenton says it has had a profound impact on reducing the number of possible incidents that may have otherwise occurred.

“And with the geopolitical paradigm that’s currently shaping up, the world is not getting any safer; it’s becoming more dangerous,” he noted. “Any little thing we can do to stack things on our side — the good guys’ side — is beneficial.

We all need to remember that Pax River is a military installation that is here specifically to feed into the national strategy and provide warfighters what they need to do their mission. As long as we maintain that perspective, we’ll be fine.”