The US military doesn't follow its own rules when investigating domestic violence on bases

news

An analysis of more than 200 cases of domestic violence at eight military installations has determined that commanders and law enforcement personnel are not following their own rules when investigating and handling these cases and their victims.


The report, released April 19, reviewed military law enforcement practices when responding to domestic violence incidents, specifically looking at whether those practices were consistent with Department of Defense policies. The report also examined whether law enforcement complied with the policies at the scene.

"If military law enforcement personnel do not thoroughly investigate and document their response to domestic violence, decision-makers such as commanders and prosecutors will not have the necessary information to make informed and prosecutorial decisions," the report, released by the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General, states. "These deficiencies could hinder criminal investigations, impact law enforcement and national security interests and expose victims to additional harm."

Of 219 cases studied, 209 did not comply with Defense Department policies, the report found.

Cases of domestic violence that occurred between 2014 and 2016 were reviewed at eight bases. Two bases were selected from each service military branch, one with the highest number of domestic violence reports and one with the lowest number. There were a total of 956 domestic violence incidents during this period on the eight bases.

The installations included Camp Pendleton; Naval Base San Diego; Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.; Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulf Port, Miss.; U.S. Army Fort Bragg, N.C.; U.S. Army Installation Fort Belvoir, Va.; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and Joint Base Andrews, Md.

Camp Pendleton had the highest number of cases reviewed with 47 incidents.

The report looked at how crime scenes were processed, how interviews were conducted and whether the Family Advocacy Program was notified of domestic violence incidents.

In one instance cited, at Fort Bragg, a person tore down a curtain rod and attempted to use it as a weapon during an assault. The incident report described the property damage but did not indicate whether law enforcement personnel conducted a search for the curtain rod or took pictures of the property damage.

"The Fort Bragg Chief of Police told us that he didn't know why his department had non-compliance to crime scene processing," the report states. "He told us that several inexperienced investigators may have contributed to noncompliance."

The Army had a crime scene search compliance rate of 50%; the Navy, 56%; the Marine Corps, 24%; and the Air Force, 35%. When it came to evidence collection, the report found an overall compliance rate of 8%. The Army scored 5%, the Navy 0%, the Marine Corps 6% and the Air Force 29%. NCIS scored 58 percent.

The report also found that in some cases, a person's criminal history was not submitted to the Defense Central Index of Investigations. This database provides information to commanders making disciplinary decisions and security clearance assessments. Information also was not submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation CJIS Division and the Defense Forensics Science Center in 180 of 219 cases.

In a case at Camp Pendleton, NCIS investigated an incident in which "the subject strangled the victim and threw her to the floor," the report stated.

"We evaluated the domestic violence incident report and determined that NCIS personnel at Camp Pendleton had sufficient credible information that the subject committed a criminal offense," the report said. "However, NCIS personnel at Camp Pendleton did not title and index the subject in the Defense Central Index of Investigations."

Of the 219 incidents, the report found that a total of 247 people were evaluated in investigations and, of that number, 135 were not properly indexed.

Overall, the report concludes that the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force need to take prompt action to make sure Defense Department policies are complied with at crime scenes, that information and evidence is indexed appropriately and that military law enforcement comply with policies at the crime scene.

Officials with the Army have agreed with some of the findings and plan to conduct an analysis to review cases dating back to 1988; Air Force officials agreed with some recommendations and described specific actions they will take to implement changes. Officials with the Navy responded but did not state if they agreed or disagreed with the recommendations.

"As a result we consider all recommendations to the Navy and Marine Corps unresolved and we request additional comments from the Navy and the Marine Corps," the report states.

———

©2019 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

SEE ALSO: The US Military Is Officially Counting Domestic Violence As A Separate Crime For The First Time

An average of 20 people per minute are victims of abuse in the United States. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Christopher Quail0
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."

"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.

"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."

Read More Show Less
(Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse)

Former Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn will plead not guilty to a charge of murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed Afghan man whom a tribal leader had identified as a Taliban bomb maker, his attorney said.

Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.

No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Read More Show Less
Taran Tactical Innovations

John Wick is back, and he's here to stay. It doesn't matter how many bad guys show up to try to collect on that bounty.

With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.

Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.

And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.

But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.

As it turns out, there's a good reason for the caliber of gun-play in John Wick. One of the franchise's secret weapons is a professional three-gun shooter named Taran Butler, who told Task & Purpose he can draw and hit three targets in 0.67 seconds from 10 yards. And if you've watched any of the scores of videos he's uploaded to social media over the years, it's pretty clear that this isn't idle boasting.

Read More Show Less

The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.

That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.

Read More Show Less
(AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

The Justice Department has accused Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) of illegally using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with five women.

Hunter, who fought in the Iraq War as a Marine artillery officer, and his wife Margaret were indicated by a federal jury on Aug. 21, 2018 for allegedly using up to $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.

In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign money to pay for a variety of expenses involved with his affairs, ranging from a $1,008 hotel bill to $7 for a Sam Adams beer.

Read More Show Less