What Are the Most Common Crimes That Happen on a Military Base?
You would think that a military base is one of the safest places to be in the United States. You are surrounded by men and women who have the best training in defense. Unfortunately, military bases are not immune to criminal activity.
Murder on Military Bases
Shootings and other acts of homicide are generally the most publicly reported crimes that occur on military bases. News reports cover mass shootings and other murders on military bases throughout the country extensively.
The mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas was the deadliest mass shooting at a military base at that time. In November 2009, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire on the military base. He killed a civilian and 12 soldiers. He claimed that it was an attempt to protect Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.
However, most of the shootings have more personal reasons. In April 2014, Army specialist Ivan A. Lopez injured 12 people and killed three soldiers in another mass shooting at Fort Hood. The Army found that Specialist Lopez had numerous personal issues, including financial troubles, the death of relatives, and a crisis of faith. He also had a disagreement with his superiors about a request for leave.
According to media reports, there were 30 shootings and other violent episodes on American military installations since the 2009 Fort Hood attack. An F.B.I. study found that 27 people were killed and 43 people were wounded in five shootings on military properties between 2010 and 2013.
In 2019, there were at least seven shootings or attacks at military bases. In just four weeks during March and April of that year, three people were killed in three separate shootings on military bases in Virginia, South Carolina, and California.
Domestic abuse and violence are common on military bases, but it is often swept under the rug or is called a “spousal aggression issue.” Some military officials blame domestic violence on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after soldiers return from combat. However, many domestic violence events on military bases occur when neither spouse had been in combat.
The domestic violence rates on military bases increased from 19 in 1,000 soldiers in 1990 to 26 in 1,000 soldiers in 1996. Congress appointed a task force to investigate domestic violence rates after three spouses or girlfriends were killed at Kentucky’s Fort Campbell. In 2004, approximately 16,400 cases of domestic violence were reported on military bases (9,450 of these cases were substantiated).
Domestic violence was recently added as a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice as part of the 2018 Defense Authorization Bill. Before that, domestic violence allegations were prosecuted under other regulations, making it incredibly difficult for the military to track the number of domestic violence allegations filed on military bases.
In 2017, a Blue Star Family survey found that approximately 15 percent of military family members did not feel safe in their current relationship. However, the most recent task force analysis of domestic violence in the military took place over 15 years ago.
Other Crimes on Military Bases
Other crimes occur on military bases. Some crimes relate to a servicemember’s active duty. Other crimes are of a personal nature.
Common crimes on military bases include:
- Absence Without Leave
- Theft of military property or personal property
- Assault and battery
- Use of illegal drugs
- Driving under the influence
- Violations of Military Protective Orders
- Sexual assault and rape
- Violating military orders
Servicemembers are still capable of committing crimes. Just because they are housed on a military base or have a military job does not mean they do not commit crimes. The above crimes are just an example of the crimes that could be committed on a military base.
If you are the victim of a crime on a military base, you can report the crime to the military police force for the service branch. You can also call 911 to report a crime in an emergency.
What Should I Do if I Am Charged with Committing a Crime on a Military Base?
A military serviceperson charged with a crime has the right to legal counsel. As with any crime, the best thing for you to do is contact a military defense lawyer if you face criminal charges by the military or for crimes committed on a military base.
Anything you say could be used against you. You need to exercise your right to remain silent until you have consulted with a military lawyer. An attorney explains your legal rights and provides an assessment of your case.