Recruiting commander reacts to Clay County arrests

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The commander of the US Army Recruiting Battalion in Jacksonville said he's working to make sure recruiters inside schools aren't there for any other reason.

"We're doing very high levels of screening to try and make sure we have the best individuals with the lowest risk of any criminal behavior," said Colonel Stephen Grabski. He's been with the recruiting battalion in Jacksonville for 22 months.

In the past several months, two men with ties to Army recruiting have been arrested in Clay County. In November, Master Sergeant Reginald Richardson was arrested for sexual battery of an underage girl. Then last week, Julius Wright, a recruiter inside Clay High School, was arrested for meeting an underage girl, and arranging to meet her off campus for sex.

"As a military officer, military professional, and a parent, very frustrated, and naturally upset," said Colonel Grabski.

Colonel Grabski said the level of screening of recruits has increased over the past two years. He said it's now at the point where it's among the highest in the military.

"If you want to be a ranger and parachute into Afghanistan during combat operations, you have higher levels of screening than to become a recruiter," he said.

Grabski went on to say recruiters are trained from day one about the importance of keeping professional relationship with students. That's part of why he said he's frustrated over these two arrests.

"They have clearly demonstrated a violation of trust with young people," Colonel Grabski said.

Both Richardson and Wright have been suspended. Grabski said if they're found guilty of the charges they're facing in civilian court, they could be kicked out of the military.


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