He killed before, but still got access to Naval Station Norfolk

Posted at 6:59 PM, Mar 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-27 20:49:21-04

He killed a man, but was still able to get a TSA-issued ID card and gain access to the world’s largest Naval installation.

When Jeffery Savage filled out the application for his Transportation Worker Identification Card, or TWIC card, he didn't have to check any boxes that disqualified him, because only asked him if he had murdered someone, or if he had assaulted someone with the intent to kill.

Since he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, he still passed the TWIC card background check, it's the standard credential for truck drivers all over Hampton Roads.

“Naval Station Norfolk is a major logistics node, and hundreds of truck drivers come on base every day,” said retired Captain Joe Bouchard, the former commander of Naval Station Norfolk.

Bouchard tells NewsChannel 3 the TWIC card was never meant to be used for access to military bases, but the Navy has still been relying on it for years, since they didn’t have another option.

“There is no thing as absolute security. You do the best you can, and prioritize your threats,” said Bouchard.

The Navy has been upgrading their base access by also starting to implement the RAPIDGate program.

It performs background checks on those that don't have DOD or Federal credentials.
RAPIDGate’s system, though, also has limitations.

“Today, we only use public accessible data,” said Jim Robell, the president and COO of EID Passport, the company who runs RAPIDGate.

Robell says it’s because they do not have access to the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, or the Terrorist Screening Database.

It was the subject of a scathing Inspector General report last year, which found that 52 felons got through RAPIDGate's background checks.

“We have been working on this for a very long time, but it takes the cooperation of a number of government organizations to make this happen,” said Robell, who says the Department of Justice has yet to give them access to the law enforcement databases.

In the end, both these men say an ID alone is not enough...the military needs to make sure there are more layers of security.

“They have to have a reason to be on the base. In the case of a truck driver with a TWIC card, he has to be doing a delivery, or a pickup. He has to have reason to be on base. Merely possessing a TWIC card does not give an individual access to a base,” said Bouchard.

NCIS confirms Savage had a valid TWIC card, but had no reason or authorization to be on Naval Station Norfolk Monday night.

The civilian truck driver was able to get his 2002 Freight liner truck, without a trailer attached, through inspection at Gate 5 and was able to get past pier security.

They say the chain of events that allowed Savage entry to the installation and the USS Mahan are under investigation.

“He did not have authorization however to be on my base. So as the commanding officer, I am looking into the procedures that were followed for access Monday night to make sure we followed proper protocols. If I find the procedures were not adhered to, I will take immediate and appropriate corrective action,” said Captain Robert Clark, current Commanding Officer of Naval Station Norfolk.