JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Whether it’s investigating crimes involving service members or briefing commanders on preventive measures to fight crime, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has a small, yet vital, presence at Joint Base San Antonio.
Naval Criminal Investigative Service – otherwise known as NCIS – is the civilian federal law enforcement agency within the Department of Navy that investigates felony-level crimes involving active-duty members serving in the Navy and the Marine Corps, including cases on and off military installations in the U.S. and around the world.
In addition, NCIS supports the Navy in providing counterterrorism and counterintelligence capabilities.
“Our mission is to prevent terrorism, protect secrets and reduce crime,” said NCIS Supervisory Agent Erin Hansen, who heads the resident agency office at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.
Hansen leads a small team of NCIS agents stationed at JBSA. She said the resident agency office investigates criminal cases including homicide, robbery, theft – whether it involves government or personal property, aggravated assaults, domestic assaults and sexual offenses involving both adults and children and Internet extortion and financial crimes.
She said the job of an NCIS special agent is to gather the facts on a case and report their findings in a clear and concise manner to a commander or officer who oversees the service member involved in the case.
“We spend a lot of time at our desks generating reports; that’s the crux of what we do,” Hansen said. “We go out, we investigate, we talk to people, we gather intelligence and we gather information.”
Last year, NCIS agents at JBSA investigated 46 cases. Half of those cases – 50 percent – were sex crimes involving adults and children, including sexual assaults; 20 percent were violent crimes, including aggravated and domestic assault. A handful of cases involved drugs, fraud, theft and Internet scams and extortions.
NCIS agents assigned to JBSA are part of a larger team of agents that cover an area stretching from Austin to San Antonio to Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande Valley, with subordinate resident agency offices in Austin and Corpus Christi.
Hansen said cases are referred to NCIS by various Navy and Marine Corps commands, whose members reported it to a supervisor, or online on the agency’s website.
For cases involving sexual assault, a victim advocate from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program assigned to a Navy or Marine Corps service member notifies NCIS to contact the victim who wants to make a report.
With any incident or case off a JBSA installation involving a Navy or Marine Corps service member, Hansen said NCIS works with local law enforcement agencies, including the San Antonio Police Department and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, in the jurisdiction the crime occurred.
If the case pertains to a situation in which one subject is an active-duty member of the Navy or Marine Corps and the other is a member of another service branch, NCIS will work with that service branch’s investigative agency, such as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Army Criminal Investigation Division.
Besides investigating crimes, Hansen said NCIS provides safety and security briefings to local Navy and Marine Corps assets, including for students during orientation at the Navy Medicine Training Support Center at the Medical Education and Training Campus at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and to staff members at the Master-at-Arms school at the JBSA-Lackland Naval Technical Training Center.
Hansen said the safety briefings cover sexual assault prevention, domestic assaults, internet scams and resources available to service members on those type of crimes. Plus, NCIS agents also provide annual counterintelligence briefings to Navy and Marine Corps commands at JBSA.
In 2019, local NCIS agents presented 49 safety and security briefings at JBSA. Hansen credits those safety briefings in bringing down the number of sexual assault and internet crimes NCIS agents investigated in San Antonio within the past year.
NCIS employs 1,100 special agents in 191 locations across the world, including all major Navy and Marine Corps installations, aboard every Navy aircraft carrier and several other ships and platforms and at several U.S. embassies where there is a large presence of Navy and Marine Corps members.
The agency conducts counterterrorism operations and investigations that are focused on thwarting threats to the physical safety and security of Navy and Marine Corps service members and Department of the Navy civilians by preventing terrorist attacks against installations and ships.
NCIS conducts counterintelligence investigations into actual, potential or suspected acts of espionage, sabotage and intelligence activities conducted by foreign powers.
“We do our job to keep Sailors and Marines safe by protecting them from foreign threats, be that from intelligence services or terrorist activity, so that they can focus on doing their mission,” Hansen said. “We take that on in support of the Navy so that they can be a more lethal and effective military force.”
Since NCIS is an independent civilian agency, Hansen said it’s able to conduct investigations without being subjected to the military chain of command.
“We are not subject to any kind of command influence and I think that speaks to the integrity of our organization and our investigations,” she said.
Any Navy or Marine Corps service member at JBSA who wants to report a case directly to NCIS can contact the JBSA resident agency office at 210-671-5708 or go online to the NCIS website at https://www.ncis.navy.mil.