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Shaheen outlines her provisions included in 2014 National Defense Authorization Act to combat sexual abuse

(Durham, NH) – Continuing her efforts in the fight against sexual assault in the military, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today joined law enforcement officials and military personnel for a roundtable discussion at the University of New Hampshire to discuss efforts to improve sexual assault prevention. Shaheen was joined by representatives from the New Hampshire National Guard and the Dover Police Department and outlined provisions she included in the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act to address sexual abuse prevention. Those provisions include a measure that will leverage the expertise of civilian best practices at law centers like UNH’s National Criminal Justice Training Center.

“The National Criminal Justice Center at UNH has been a premier law enforcement and public training organization for more than 20 years,” Shaheen said. “Utilizing the expertise of officers at the National Criminal Justice Training Center to train our military officers and first responders will have a measurable impact in our fight against sexual assaults in our military.”

“We have a responsibility to act. The Department of Defense has had a zero tolerance policy on sexual assault for over two decades. Yet, we’re still having this discussion instead of implementing reforms. If we continue to avoid the fundamental issues, 20 years from now we will find ourselves in the exact same place. We can’t let that happen,” Shaheen said. 

The provision introduced by Shaheen requests a comprehensive review from the Department of Defense (DOD) for the coordination and incorporation of civilian law enforcement best practices in sexual assault prevention and response. The report directs the DOD to evaluate its existing program and identify ways to incorporate civilian law enforcement practices in training, investigation and prosecution of sexual crimes.

In addition, Shaheen was also successful in including a measure building on bipartisan legislation she introduced with Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) requiring more rigorous screening of military assault officers after multiple Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) officers were accused of sexual assault. The provision is designed to ensure the highest caliber candidates are considered for sexual assault prevention positions and that the positions are career enhancing assignments.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Shaheen has been a leader fighting the crisis of sexual abuse in our Armed Forces and has worked extensively to provide care and service to victims. She has co-sponsored legislation, the Military Justice Improvement Act, to improve accountability in handling of cases of sexual abuse by removing the decision to take a case to special or general court-martial out of the chain of command and give that discretion to experienced military prosecutors. The bill has garnered significant bipartisan momentum and last week Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced their support.