New procedures for checking identification at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island’s main gate are tightening security but slowing traffic.
A handheld scanner called Mobilisa is being used to scan IDs and provide immediate background checks on those going through the gates, according to 1st Lt. Jean Durham, depot spokeswoman.
The scans have caused temporary morning traffic backups on Parris Island Gateway and the Russell Bell Memorial Bridge outside the base’s entrance.
Traffic problems are particularly acute on family days and graduation days, when the depot has many visitors, she said.
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The machines, first employed in May, can read military and government-issued ID cards, drivers licenses and state-issued ID cards. The scanners check federal, base and other records.
When the checks raise red flags, such as an outstanding warrant, military police pull aside the vehicle and contact local law enforcement and the jurisdiction issuing the warrant.
“This electronic vetting of personnel is one of a number of security measures in place that help to protect the depot from potential threats,” Durham said.
She was not aware of specific incidents that triggered the use of the handheld scanners, which were first used in early May.
Federal regulations adopted in 2010 require ID checks on all military bases and the scanners are being added to assist with those checks.
To minimize problems, additional scanners are added on busy days, Durham said. She expects traffic flow will improve with time.
“It’s a brand new thing, so they're getting used to it and getting used to the timing,” she said. “There's going to be some growing pains, but the more that they use it the quicker it will be.”
In the meantime, those who work on base have been told to anticipate delays in their commutes. Visitors also are asked to have their IDs ready, to speed the checks.