In the days following a mass shooting at small town Texas church in 2017, investigators discovered that former Airman Basic Devin Patrick Kelley had been discharged from the Air Force for assaulting his wife and child, yet was still able to legally buy the firearm he used to kill 26 people and wound 20 more.
His case is one of the reasons the Pentagon’s inspector general cited for its most recent review of the the many law enforcement agencies within the Defense Department and whether in 2019 they sent fingerprints, DNA and other information to federal authorities after service members are convicted of a crime.
“In one tragic event, the Air Force failed to submit the fingerprints and final disposition report of Devin Patrick Kelley, a former Air Force member who had been convicted of domestic violence and discharged from the Air Force, to the FBI," according to the IG report released Feb. 21.
The services did have 100 percent compliance when it came to crimes that would make owning a firearm illegal, which includes all felonies, as well as misdemeanor domestic violence.
As far as other reporting requirements, the IG found the services are mostly complying, with one notable exception — Navy Security Forces.
Naval Security Forces failed to include "the collection and submission of fingerprints and final disposition reports in its training schools,” according to the findings.
"Furthermore, we determined that the Navy Security Forces did not establish any management oversight procedures to ensure that fingerprints and final disposition reports were collected and submitted to the applicable FBI [Criminal Justice Information Services] Division databases.”
The military’s crime reporting is in the spotlight this week in the aftermath of the Texas church shooting that killed 26 people.
The report found overall, however, that most of the services have been making progress on sharing information with the FBI. The Army submitted DNA for 99 percent of its cases ― 428 out of 431 ― in 2019, up from 92 percent five years earlier. The Navy improved from 91 percent to 100 percent, with 331 cases, and the Air Force from 78 to 98 percent, reporting 111 out of 113.
Only the Marine Corps faltered, dropping from 99 percent reporting to 89 percent, or eight out of nine. The Air Force and Marine Corps also failed to report all of their convicted sex offenders to the FBI for database inclusion, at 80 percent and 84 percent, respectively.
While the report does not explicitly discuss why the services might not be making 100 percent on all of their cases, or make specific recommendations to take steps to reach that goal, several other recommendations are included.
The IG recommended that the Navy secretary update training and oversight procedures for Marine Corps and Navy law enforcement agencies, and the Navy department agreed with that finding.
The IG also recommended that the services make an effort to get DNA samples from their missing sample submissions, which the service secretaries’ offices agreed to.