That individual was questioned because of his status as a registered sex offender. Air Forces in Europe policy change instituted last fall requires all base housing applicants at USAFE bases to fill out a sex offender disclosure form.
Base commanders can use the information to deny someone government housing or to restrict a registered sex offender from living near where children may play or attend school or day care on base. The new policy is one of several recent changes made by the military services making it harder for convicted sex offenders to live in base housing.
The new rules are particularly significant for overseas bases, which currently lack public sex offender registries and notification laws common in the United States. Air Force officials discussed the new policy during a series of town hall meetings in May to inform base residents of recent incidents involving threats to children. Since January, there have been four reports of child molestations and attempted abductions on Kaiserslautern-area bases.
When the Air Force approved the mandatory-disclosure policy at Air Force bases in the States over a year ago, it allowed overseas commands discretion on whether and how to implement it, said Lt. The form asks for specifics on the nature and circumstances of the offense, including the age of the victim at the time the offense was committed.
Residents already living on base at the time the policy was implemented also were required to complete the disclosure form, USAFE officials said. No one in USAFE has been forced to move off base or been denied base housing since mandatory disclosure began, Mitchell said. However, because the sex offender form is only required of those applying for base housing, there is no way to track those living off base. Also, unlike in the United States, there are no public sex offender disclosure laws in Germany.
Germany, however, maintains a private database of the names of convicted sex offenders, to which criminal prosecutors and law enforcement officials have access, said Rudolf Egg, a forensic psychology professor and director of the Center for Criminology in Wiesbaden, Germany. USAFE has asked the Air Force to examine the legal and policy issues associated with implementing a screening program that would identify sex offenders before they receive orders to move overseas, said an Air Force official speaking on background.
The Navy and Marine Corps already prohibit any sailors or Marines or sponsored family members who are sex offenders from being assigned overseas, absent a waiver, according to a policy issued about four years ago. Those services also prohibit sex offenders from occupying base housing, as per guidance issued in The Army is also evaluating whether to screen military households for convicted sex offenders before moving them overseas, said Paul Prince, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, in an email.
In , the lack of an overseas sex offender registry at bases abroad emerged as a leading issue from an Army Family Action Plan conference in U. Conference recommendations included requiring all sex offenders holding a DOD identification card who are assigned or residing overseas to be entered into a registry comparable to those in the United States.
In , the secretary of the Army expanded the issue to address sex offender management across the Army, according to Army officials. The Army is looking at requiring any registered sex offender who works or lives on post to register with the provost marshal office, Prince said. Currently, only soldiers convicted at court-martial of qualifying offenses have to register, Prince said.
The Air Force does not disclose any information about registered sex offenders, such as the offense or where the person lives, and would be unlikely to do so. Legislation is pending that would create a DOD central database of all military members convicted of sexual assault that would include, among other items, a photograph of the individual, criminal history and a DNA sample.
The information would be shared with a national sex offender registry, according to the proposed legislation. Meanwhile, if an incident similar to the cases reported on Kaiserslautern-area bases were to occur off base, an American could go to the local police and file a report, said Egg.