DoD Task Force Seeks Better Domestic Violence Response
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 9, 2001 In a Feb. 28 report to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the DoD Task Force on Domestic Violence made 59 recommendations to improve the military's response to domestic violence.
The report filed by the 24-member panel is based on the first year of a congressionally mandated, three-year review called for in the fiscal 2000 Defense Authorization Act.
The report stresses the importance of preventing domestic violence, protecting victims and holding offenders accountable. Task force recommendations include:
- Issue a "zero tolerance" policy memorandum, signed by the defense secretary, that states domestic violence is a pervasive problem within society that transcends all ethnic, racial, gender and socioeconomic boundaries, and it will not be tolerated in the Department of Defense.
- Conduct standardized domestic violence training for military police during initial training and specialized training for police patrol officers being assigned duties requiring them to respond to domestic violence.
- Create traveling teams to expedite domestic violence training to military police patrol officers at installation levels.
- Require the investigation of every reported domestic violence incident to determine whether a crime was committed.
- Conduct domestic violence fatality reviews "to ensure no victim dies in vain."
- Issue final guidance on implementing the Lautenberg Amendment; reviewing the appropriateness of waivers issued since DoD's interim policy went into effect; and conducting an awareness campaign to inform the military of the amendment's existence and related consequences.
- Require the services to educate military spouses on DoD Transitional Compensation Program, which authorizes temporary payments for families even after the military offender is separated from the service or court-martialed.
- Conduct mandatory initial training for commanders prior to assuming command and for service members assigned as commanders' senior enlisted advisers.
- Develop standard guidelines to assist commanders who seek to substantiate allegations of domestic violence by a person subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and to determine appropriate actions when such allegations are substantiated.
- Require installation and regional commanders to seek memorandums of understanding with local communities to address collaborative responses to domestic violence.
- Employ full-time DoD liaison personnel to work with local law enforcement agencies and dedicated domestic violence response coordinators to be the link between military installations and civilian agencies responding to domestic violence.
- Require "batterer intervention" for those determined to be culpable for domestic violence offenses and develop criteria for different types of interventions based on individual case assessments.
- Develop criteria for conducting risk/lethality assessments to determine which victims are at greatest risk of injury or death.
- Review the impact of mandatory reporting on victim safety, victim disclosure, access to services, victim autonomy and early offender intervention.
- Develop policy on who should be removed following a domestic violence incident in military housing.
- Develop a standard Military Protection Order form, providing victims with a copy of the order within 24 hours; and establish a system to record and track all such orders.
- Request Congress enact legislation to make it a violation of federal law to disobey, on federal property, a valid civilian protection order or any other form of restraint issued by a civil or criminal court.
- Re-emphasize the need for domestic violence awareness education for all healthcare staff, and institute such education at the services' chaplain officer indoctrination courses.
The task force report is posted on the Defense Domestic Violence Task Force Web site at www.dtic.mil/domesticviolence/index.htm.