Civilian misconduct officials meet, discuss changes to regulations

by Mindy Campbell
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

When an active-duty Soldier breaks the law, he or she will face possible punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. But what happens when a civilian or family member gets in trouble?

Anyone who holds a military identification card, except active-duty military, and gets in trouble, may appear before the Civilian Misconduct Action Authority, which is authorized to impose administrative actions, said Don Gwinn, assistant CMAA for U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern.

According to the 2010 KMC Census, of the 12,727 Army-affiliated civilians and family members in the garrison’s footprint, about 350 people ended up in the CMAA office last year. The most common offenses for civilians included shoplifting and both domestic and general assaults, Gwinn said.

“Shoplifting is a major crime for both juveniles and adults in our community,” he said.

Gwinn and Robert Leist, his fellow assistant CMAA, process these cases and then forward recommendations to the garrison commander, who is the CMAA for all Army-affiliated civilians in the community.

“It is very important to understand that the Civilian Misconduct Action program is an administrative program,” Gwinn said. “It is an administrative process, not a judicial process. We don’t have a court. We don’t have a judge or jury. The criminal jurisdiction in Germany falls under the host nation.”

Also, whether the incident occurs on or off an installation, the CMAA has authority to take action against the civilian, Gwinn said.

However, the CMAA has a range of actions it can take against a civilian, including counseling, logistical support loss, barment and even the early return of a family member, he said.

“That person has an ID card affiliated with the military,” Gwinn said. “Under that ID card, they are given a lot of privileges. Those privileges are just that – privileges. Command sponsorship is a privilege. Shopping at the (post exchange), driving a (U.S. Army Europe)-plated vehicle, being able to come on an installation, using (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) facilities, all those are privileges that the garrison commander, acting as the Civilian Misconduct Action Authority, can take away.”

Regulations that govern the CMAA recently changed. To understand the six changes to the regulations, Gwinn and other local assistant CMAA members gathered at the Kaiserslautern Community Activity Center on Daenner Kaserne Jan. 20 to discuss those updates and to share information. In addition to USAG
Kaiserslautern, representatives from Baumholder and Wiesbaden attended the conference.

“We want to make sure by talking to all the bordering communities’ assistant Civilian Misconduct Action Authorities that we are on the same sheet of music,” Gwinn said. “The regulations are a guideline. We want to make sure that we interpret these the right way.”

The conference provided them with a forum to discuss and clarify the changes as well as to ensure they are sharing important information.

“We communicate a lot,” he said. “If we bar a person from the Kaiserslautern Military Community, we want Baumholder and Wiesbaden and Heidelberg to know that.”

The conference was a great opportunity for the members to share “best practices” and to ensure the standards are enforced across the board, said Lt. Col. Lars N. Zetterstrom, USAG Kaiserslautern commander, who also attended the conference.

“What’s really important to me, hopefully, is that we can learn from the other communities about the initiatives they are doing and how we can better educate and prevent misconduct,” Zetterstrom said. “If we can do this, it’s going to be a better quality of life for everybody.”

For Walt Tobash, Wiesbaden assistant CMAA, the conference was a chance to not only discuss the new changes, but to compare how each installation handles cases.

“A conference like this gives us the ability and opportunity to come together with our colleagues to discuss different cases and different methods of dealing with misconduct in other garrisons that we can possibly incorporate into our program in our installation that can better serve the community and the commander,” Tobash said.