Fallacies about civilian misconduct debunked
April 2, 2009
- Process for dealing with civilian misconduct
- Involvement of German law enforcement within civilian misconduct process
- Penalties through the civilian misconduct program
- Hours of community service if a law is broken
BAMBERG, Germany Aca,!" Who hasn't seen the TV documentary show Cops' It shows some of the uglier parts of human society; it also portrays some heartbreaking realities.
Mistakes, poor judgments, violence, abuse or neglect can lead to adults going to jail, spouses going to homeless shelters and children being ordered to foster care.
There's a sense of disturbance people feel when witnessing emotional suffering. In other words, a crime will almost certainly have a victim whether it's deliberate or unintentional.
Watching these events unfold on TV and seeing the suffering they can cause, one might think a garrison community is immune to these ugly realities. Yet the military is a microcosm reflecting the rest of human society.
No one knows this better here than the Civilian Misconduct Action Authority, his assistant and the Provost Marshal.
"Denying the fact these events take place in the military is a misrepresentation of the truth," said Duane Kozel, the assistant CMAA. "The one thing our community can be assured of is we take these matters seriously and investigate the incident thoroughly."
When a law has been broken, the Military Police and local German authorities get involved, said Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Newman, Bamberg's acting provost marshal.
While a Soldier can be subject to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, family members and civilians can't, Newman said. Civilian misconduct is used as surrogate to the German judicial system when officials believe the matter can be dealt with internally.
"We contact the German authorities almost every time we have an incident involving a civilian," Newman said.
The MPs don't have to call the Polizei (German police) for situations involving a family member or civilian, but Newman said it's important they are involved in the situation.
"There is a myth out there," he noted. "Some people believe that since they're a civilian, MPs are not allowed to detain, arrest or apprehend them. I'm here to tell you this is a big misconception. We have the authority to apprehend anybody on the installation. The Polizei's authority supersedes ours, and they can decide whether they would like to prosecute the case.
"Typically, German law enforcement will let the military leadership handle the case through civilian misconduct, but they aren't required to," he said.
All family members who reside overseas with a sponsor should be command-sponsored family members. The details for allowing a family member to reside with a sponsor are agreed on in a Status of Forces Agreement.
Penalties through the civilian misconduct program can include warning letters, community service, restitution or loss of privileges.
Kozel usually gathers facts and evidence from various organizations to present the offenders' case to Lt. Col. Gary A. Rosenberg, commander of USAG Bamberg.
Kozel and Rosenberg take all matters into account before passing a ruling. In accordance with suggested penalties in U.S. Army Europe Regulation 27-9, the CMAA, who is Rosenberg, and his assistant developed a standardized chart to pass fair and impartial judgments on offenders. The chart is based on a point system.
Shoplifting, larceny, fighting and assault, damage to property, drunk and disorderly conduct, unauthorized use or possession of a controlled substance, driving while intoxicated, vehicle and traffic violations, child neglect, spousal abuse, truancy, misuse of ration card, purchase, or postal privileges, and others are all offenses listed on the chart.
Each offense corresponds with points based on the severity of the offense. The more severe the offense, the more points are issued to the individual. If a person is issued two or more points, he will be required to perform community service. Hours of community service will be determined by adding a zero at the end of the point, which means if people receive three points, they will be required to perform 30 hours of community service. Between one and eight points is considered civilian misconduct. Anything more than eight points causes the individual to be banished from the country involving an Aca,!A"Early Return of Dependent.Aca,!A?
"We are fair and consistent," Rosenberg said. "Illegal acts and unruly behavior have no place in our community. My priority is to provide a healthy environment for our residents and maintain the welfare of our community. I am fully committed to making sure it's the best in Europe. If someone breaks the law in our community, I can assure our residents the punishment will be swift and stern."