Civilian misconduct program brings order to overseas communities

by Mary Davis U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Public Affairs

When you bring 35,000 people from various backgrounds, cultures and values to live and work together in one military community, you may have a few disciplinary issues. If this group of people is located in a country outside the United States, disciplinary issues are handled in a different way.

While service members in the Kaiserslautern Military Community are subject to military law for their transgressions, family members and U.S. civilian employees are subject to German law, military reprimands and possible revocation of logistical support or privileges. That is where the Civilian Misconduct Program comes in.

“The Civilian Misconduct Program provides fair, meaningful and impartial resolution of incidents concerning misconduct of civilians overseas,” said Don Gwinn, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Civilian Misconduct Program manager. “The program establishes administrative actions and procedures to be taken in response to civilian misconduct to safeguard the resources, facilities and welfare of U.S. Forces communities in Europe.”

Within the KMC, there are Army and Air Force civilian misconduct programs, and civilians will fall under the respective program that provides their individual logistical support. For civilians receiving logistical support from the Army, USAG RP Garrison Commander Col. Keith Igyarto and USAG RP Deputy to the Garrison Commander Deborah Reynolds serve as the Civilian Misconduct action authorities for contractors, family members, Department of Defense employees, diplomatic staff, military retirees and Army-affiliated local national employees, Gwinn explained.

Gwinn and his counterparts, Robert Leist and Rick Anderson, serve as assistant Civilian Misconduct officers who advise the CMAAs. In this role, they compile reports, conduct interviews, collect data, coordinate with supporting agencies and supply vital information to the CMAA, while providing recommendations as well. Gwinn’s team works alongside the 86th Mission Support Group Civilian Misconduct office that takes care of adverse conduct within the Air Force’s scope of responsibility.

“Often, there are several perspectives to a particular incident. We are an impartial party that interviews suspects, witnesses and law enforcement officials to ensure the CMAA has a 360-degree view of a particular incident,” Leist said. “We provide as much information as possible to the CMAA to ensure he or she has all the pertinent facts to make well-informed decisions.”

Last year in the KMC, the most common incidents involved physical assaults, followed by property crimes and alcohol offenses, Leist said. Depending on the severity of the offense, a civilian could lose various logistical support privileges, to include commissary patronage, participation in Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, driving privileges, ration and fuel card privileges, postal services and Army and Air Force Exchange Service sales facilities privileges. If violations are especially abhorrent, violators can be barred from entering one or more military installations or even returned back to the United States.

“What people sometimes don’t realize is civilians who violate laws on a military installation can also find themselves in trouble with the German Polizei off base,” Leist said. “The host nation has exclusive criminal jurisdiction over civilians under the Status of Forces Agreement.”

When minors commit crimes on post, the Civilian Misconduct team gathers information from parents and schools to not only get a better picture of what happened but why it happened. They do this to mitigate events from happening in the future, said Rick Anderson, Civilian Misconduct officer at Baumholder.

“It’s important to know if the kids are doing well in school to see if they are actively engaged in academics and what their school discipline report looks like,” Anderson said. “Measuring their academic school discipline report and what problems they may be causing in the community determines what counseling and administrative actions the CMAA may take against them.”

Department of Defense Education Activity has its own discipline program, Gwinn explained, and must take appropriate internal administrative action to address student disciplinary problems. Consequently, school administrators are required to report to their respective ACMAA all cases of misconduct that warrant suspension or expulsion from school.

“When students perpetrate serious offenses, we attend their disciplinary hearings to see if their actions or misbehavior occurring at school may crossover into the community,” Gwinn said. “Occasionally, if students are suspended from school and have a lot of time on their hands, they may find themselves getting into trouble in the military community. So it’s important that we know what we are dealing with.”

Sometimes unlawful incidents are symptoms of much larger problems people may have at home, work or interpersonally. When they see this, the Civilian Misconduct Program team will make referrals to several helping agencies to include Army Sexual Assault Program, Employees Assistance Program, Adolescence Support and Counseling Services, Behavioral Health Clinic, Family Advocacy Program, Army Community Services programs and other organizations to help people struggling with difficult issues receive the assistance they need.

After all the information is gathered and referrals are made, the team presents their data and makes recommendations to the CMAA to decide on fair and adequate administrative actions.

Depending on the severity of the incident, the CMAA actions may be as simple as verbal or letters of warning to as severe as eviction from on-post quarters, early return of dependents, mandatory referrals to social work services, alcohol and drug counseling or other support agencies, Leist said.

“Sometimes several infractions will add up and a pattern of misconduct will become evident,” Leist explained. “This will sometimes lead to the individual being sent back to the States. If a severe infraction was caused by a military family member, it may even affect the military sponsor’s career.”

To exchange information and best practices among field offices, the annual Civilian Misconduct Round Table was initiated last year by the USAG RP Civilian Misconduct office, Anderson said.

“This June, we are coordinating with Installation Management Command-Europe Headquarters to sponsor the event at Sembach,” he said. “The intent and goal for this event is to invite all garrison ACMAAs in the region, including the 86 MSG Civilian Misconduct specialist, to share information, look for best practices, gain more knowledge and receive briefings from subject matter experts from the various support agencies that we do business with.”

Those agencies include ASAP, Employee Assistance Program, Directorate of Emergency Services, Adolescence Support and Counseling Service, Family Advocacy Program, Army & Air Force Exchange Service Loss Prevention, IMCOM-E and 21st Theater Support Command Legal Liaison, Installation Access Control System, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Behavioral Health, DODEA, Civilian Personnel Advisory Center Management Employee Relations and all investigative services.

The event will provide an opportunity for Civilian Misconduct specialists to stay abreast of changes in regulations, policies and procedures that are vital to their execution of actions imposed by the civilian misconduct authority. At the 2016 ACMAA Round Table, more than 43 support SMEs provided briefings to the ACMAA attendees.

“This type of forum has priceless information and tools ACMAAs need to prepare them to be expert advisers to garrison commanders on civilian misconduct matters,” Leist said.

It is imperative that all military community members military, civilian employees and family members are cognizant and vigilant of their actions at all times, Gwinn said.

“We are ambassadors of the U.S. military overseas. Poor decisions resulting in misconduct reflects poorly on the United States, especially when rules and regulations of the military and laws of our host nation are not properly heeded,” Gwinn explained. “Actions taken by the CMAA are only tools to correct misconduct.However, to reduce misconduct, it takes all members of our community to ensure incidents are kept to a minimum and hold individuals responsible for their actions. We are all responsible for ensuring the safety, good order and discipline of our military communities overseas.”