The Journal Gazette
Thursday, May 06, 2021 1:00 am

Sources: Civilian to direct criminal probes for Army

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Army plans to put a civilian in charge of the command that conducts criminal investigations, a response to widespread criticism the unit is understaffed, overwhelmed and filled with inexperienced investigators, officials familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

The decision, expected to be announced today, reflects recommendations made by an independent commission in the wake of violent crimes and murders at Fort Hood, Texas, including the death of Vanessa Guillén, whose remains were found about two months after she was killed.

According to officials, the Army Criminal Investigation Command, or CID, will be separated from the Provost Marshal General's office, and instead of being run by a general officer it will be overseen by a yet-to-be-named civilian director. The move is designed to improve the capabilities of the command and address the findings of the Fort Hood commission.

The CID will be responsible for criminal investigations, and the Provost Marshal office will continue with separate duties.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said immediate changes would be implemented at three Army installations considered high-risk to increase qualified staffing and help improve relationships with local law enforcement. It's unclear which installations will be affected.

Longer-term changes would address how to improve the criminal investigations to better deter crime.

More than two dozen Fort Hood soldiers died in 2020, including in multiple homicides and suicides. Guillén's death and other cases prompted the independent review, which found that military leaders were not adequately dealing with high rates of sexual assault, harassment, drug use and other problems at the base. The review also concluded that the Army CID was understaffed, badly organized and had too few experienced investigators.

Members of the independent review panel told Congress members in March that the CID investigators lacked the acumen to identify key leads and “connect the dots.”

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