Members of Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention Unit Didn't Face Background Checks, Go through Training

By Michael Klazema on 6/3/2015

The Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention & Response program is designed to combat sexual assault in the United States military, and to work with victims of sexual assault crimes. According to an internal audit conducted in April 2014, though, many of the personnel appointed to work with the program never went through background checks or received training of any kind prior to taking up their new roles.

The good news is that the audit, which was conducted last year by the Air Force Audit Agency, inspired the military to start refining screening policies for Sexual Assault Prevention & Response personnel almost immediately. In fact, the head of training and development for the SAPR program told The News Tribune, the publication that obtained the audit documents and reported them to the public, that such oversights "cannot happen anymore." The Air Force has supposedly implemented background checks and training regimens for any airmen involved in the SAPR program, to prevent potential threats to sexual assault victims.

Still, the findings of the audit remain damning for the Air Force. Considering the sensitive nature of work that involves victims of sexual assault, it goes without saying that everyone involved in the SAPR program should have been screened for past sexual offenses themselves. However, according to the audit, 826 of the personnel members for the program did not receive background checks, checks that the Air Force is legally required to conduct. That's roughly a third of the 2,500-some individuals who were chosen to be a part of the program, either as "response coordinators" or as "victim advocates."

To make matters worse, 167 of the personnel chosen to work SAPR had not yet received security clearances from the United States Military; 117 members never received any kind of training on how to respond to reports of sexual assault or work with assault victims; and 852 individuals didn't participate in required "refresher training" prior to starting work with the new department. The final figure of 1,435 highlights the number of personnel who had something wrong with their records before joining SAPR, considerably more than half of all involved program personnel.

From the sounds of it, the oversights might just have been the result of the Air Force rushing to implement the new sexual assault program. Congress has been putting pressure on different branches of the United States Military as of late, with the goal of reducing the frequency of sexual assaults in the military. A 2012 Pentagon survey suggested that 26,000 sexual assault cases occurr in the military ranks annually. A recent study from the Rand Corporation estimates that the number was down closer to 20,000 for 2014. As you can see, the number is dropping, but there is still a long way to go. Hopefully, the new background check and training standards in place for the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention & Response program will help to reduce the case number even further.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.

  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.
  • June 04 The organization, The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRCNMS) was founded on the belief that families are the heart of community and that promoting healthy families leads to healthy communities. Read more about how they carefully screen and vet new employees with the help of
  • June 01 Past mistakes can have lingering effects in criminal records that appear on background checks. People with minor convictions can erase those mistakes for help starting over. 
  • May 29 The city of Greenley, Colorado has added background checks and new affidavits to its process for screening candidates for city council. The new measures come after a candidate with a felony conviction for forgery got elected as city councilman.