Kadena punitive program chief strives to keep civilians in line
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Any civilian working or living here better behave.
That’s the word the Kadena Disciplinary Action Program is putting out, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Denis P. Delaney, the 18th Mission Support Group’s deputy commander.
Delaney oversees the program and implements punishments for those who misbehave, whether it’s vandalism, substance abuse, underage drinking or drunk driving, just to name a few.
“I’m more or less the hammer,” Delaney said. “They come in, and I nail them.”
The program began in 1996 to help reduce misconduct of Kadena community members who aren’t active duty, Delaney said.
Even though Kadena community members may be punished in the Japanese legal system, they still face disciplinary action at the KDAP.
“There is no [law against] double jeopardy here,” he said. “The Japanese can give a fine, and then we can deal with it also.”
Delaney said that along with preserving good order and discipline on base, he is especially concerned with misconduct off base.
“We are on someone else’s soil, so we want to make sure and do the right thing,” he said.
Most cases are decided within a month, and base privileges are suspended during that time, Delaney said.
“If you shoplift at the Exchange, you can’t shop there until after your KDAP hearing,” he said. “And if you drink and drive, you can’t drive until after your KDAP hearing.”
Once an individual gets into a situation that could require a hearing, the individual’s sponsor and chain of command is notified. The hearings are attended by the suspect, his or her sponsor and the sponsor’s first sergeant or commander at the Kadena Law Center. The hearing officer then listens to all sides and makes a decision concerning the appropriate action. If punishment is meted out, the action is documented and kept as a permanent record throughout the sponsor’s tour.
Punishment can range from a letter of warning or community service to 24-hour parent supervision or expulsion from the base, Delaney said.
Each situation is different, he said.
“It’s not cookie-cutter justice,” Delaney said. “We listen to their side of the story and take everything into consideration.”
While Delaney may be the “hammer,” Jane Ellis, the director of KDAP, could be called the “rehabilitator.” For example, when students are involved, she goes to the schools to get their grades and monitors their progress. She also helps set up counseling for those who need it.
The number of cases seen by the KDAP is increasing, Ellis said.
But it’s not because more people are misbehaving.
“[Delaney] addresses cases that last year would’ve had no action taken on them,” she said. “So it’s not fair to compare the numbers.”
The KDAP staff is spreading the word by giving briefs for all newcomers and unit commanders.
In her role as “good cop,” Ellis said most of the kids who have hearings realize the seriousness of their actions by the official tone set in the courtroom.
“They say the worst part was in the courtroom … it’s very intimidating,” she said.
Delaney said the key to staying off KDAP’s radar is simply doing the right thing.
“If you just do what you’re supposed to do, you’re not going to get into trouble,” he said. “But if you break the boundaries, things are going to happen … expect to pay. Just be a good player on Team Kadena.”