Panels present Fort Hood review findings to Congress

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 7:12 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (KWTX) - Two panels presented findings to Congress Tuesday in response to the ongoing review of Fort Hood, specifically in the Criminal Investigation Command.

Lawmakers expressed frustration Tuesday with how slowly improvements are being made to criminal investigation at Fort Hood, where rates of violent crime and sexual assaults are particularly high.

An independent review committee earlier presented nine findings to improve the climate and culture on Fort Hood, one dealing with a lack of experience in CID.

Members of the congressional subcommittee grilled the commander of CID, who said she is “seizing this moment” to correct the staffing and resource problems within her agency that led to sweeping failures in tracking and solving cases.

“We can and we will do better,” Maj. Gen. Donna Martin told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

She said the Army is working to restructure and modernize CID and is considering adding more civilian investigators and creating special teams that could respond to major criminal cases when needed at any base.

Chris Swecker, chairman of the independent review, says that lack of experience in investigators let to the lack of proper leads being followed and not knowing what evidence was most relevant in high profile cases, like Vanessa Guillen’s.

In the middle of the investigation into Guillen’s disappearance, Swecker says the lead investigator was transferred.

“Many of them leave I’m told by the time they get some kind of experience,” he said.

He says more than 90% of Fort Hood CID investigators were at the apprentice level, something Martin says they are already working to change.

“We wanted to look at experience of our agents we wanted to look at how long were staying on station. Some of the very immediate things that we did was extend our agents time on station so agents can now stay up to five six years on station,” Martin said.

Swecker says during interviews in the Guillen case, investigators only asked two to three questions to key witnesses and did the interviews over the phone.

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