FORT HOOD, TX — Members of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee presented their findings and recommendations to change the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division (CID) at a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing Tuesday.
The committee shed light on a number of issues, including problems with criminal investigations on post.
Investigators said the agents who worked Spc. Vanessa Guillen’s case, as well as several others at Fort Hood, were under-staffed, under-trained and under-resourced.
“Vastly inexperienced staff there. You can tell from the interviews. There were two or three question interviews. They are mostly done by phone, particularly some of the key interviews. Some of the key follow up questions just weren’t asked or they just weren’t documented in the file, and the dots weren’t just connecting," said Christopher Swecker, chairman of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee.
Natalie Khawam, attorney for the family of slain Spc. Vanessa Guillen, says she noticed Fort Hood CID officials' lack of resources and experience when she asked if they subpoenaed the cellphones during the investigation into Guillen's disappearance.
“Little did I know that the technology that they had to investigate a very important high profile case doesn’t exist or expired," she said.
The committee found a lack of higher-ups overseeing the case, specifically looking at forensics, prioritizing leads and more important details of the investigation.
“I don’t think any investigative agency that I know of which staff their offices that way when they have complex cases on the table, death cases, suicide cases,” Swecker said.
Another issue discussed was sexual assault and harassment on post.
The committee stated several dozen incidents of sexual assault and harassment were under-reported. Investigators went on to say the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program (SHARP) at Fort Hood has been ineffective and leadership failed to instill the program's core values below the brigade level.
“It just goes to show there is no accountability. There’s no organization. There is no real leadership,” said Khawam.
Investigators gave several recommendations, including adding victim advocates and using civilian sexual assault response coordinators.