For civilian heroes of Fort Hood rampage, Army service appears over

Joe Davidson
Columnist August 30, 2011

The two Army civilian police officers who were hailed as heroes for their response to the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Tex., that left 13 dead are no longer on its police force.

Mark Todd and Kimberly Munley, along with other officers, were told their terms would not be extended, according to the union representing them.

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about the federal workplace that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. View Archive

Todd shot Maj. Nidal Hasan, who was charged with the homicides and with wounding about 30 people, including Munley, during the rampage on Nov. 5, 2009. Munley said the trajectory of one of Hasan’s wounds indicated she also shot him, though her bullet was not recovered. If court-martialed, Hasan could face the death penalty.

A statement released by the base said “Officer Mark Todd resigned his position at Fort Hood earlier this year and has accepted a position with another contractor for a position overseas. Officer Kimberly Munley is a Term Employee, and at her request she is currently on Leave Without Pay Status and living in North Carolina.”

In an interview, Munley said she had planned to return to Fort Hood after her leave — which she took to deal with family issues — was over in January.

“I had all intentions to go back in January, but then we were informed our terms would not be renewed,” she said.

Munley, a SWAT team member, said she was on a four-year term and realized there was no guarantee it would be extended. “However, we were told from the day we were hired that our terms would go to a permanent status,” she said. “We waited and waited and it never did.

“It’s disheartening.”

Todd could not be reached for comment. He is working in Afghanistan, according to Munley and Jeff Zuhlke, an American Federation of Government Employee Law Enforcement Committee official.

“Once [Todd] was told he would not have a job he started looking elsewhere,” Munley said.

About 20 civilian police officers hired on a term basis at Fort Hood will not have their employment renewed “and an additional 11 officers at Fort Drum are being let go,” according to Zuhlke, who also is a detective at Fort Drum in New York.

In addition to the term employees, other police officers who have permanent status likely will be let go by September 2012, Zuhlke said, including, perhaps, himself. He did not know the number, but expects at Fort Drum it will be “considerably more than term employees.”

Munley said the 20 officers at Fort Hood do not include those who quit in anticipation, but before their term ended, so the actual number is much higher.

Pentagon spokesmen said they did not have information on the number of civilian military police officers affected nationwide.

The departure of Todd and Munley from Fort Hood was first reported by the American-Statesman in Austin, about an hour’s drive from the base.

Munley said she received a call from two Fort Hood officials on Friday, and was told “they’re getting heat” because of the employment issues surrounding her and Todd. She said she was told the officials would try to find her another federal position.

“I could end up on a desk job or in the field,” she said. “I just don’t know yet.”

The Army is able to reduce the number of civilian police officers as more military police become available with troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“As Department of Army contract police personnel leave, more Military Police Soldiers will perform law enforcement duties, resulting in no reduction of law enforcement support on Fort Hood,” said a statement by Tom Rheinlander, the base’s public affairs director.

Munley, however, said MPs don’t have the same kind of experience as the civilian police officers. “I really think it’s a big mistake,” she said, “especially with all the increased crime.”

Zuhlke objected to wording in Fort Hood statements that implied the police officers are “contract” workers, rather than federal civil service employees.

“Calling federal police officers ‘contract police personnel’ is a complete misnomer,” Zuhlke said. “These officers are not employed by some hired-gun private security firm. They are federal employees. They are trained by the federal government. They swore an oath and heeded the call to public service. They are professionals who have chosen law enforcement as a career.”

Christopher J. Haug, a Fort Hood public affairs officer, said “it was not our intention to seem indifferent to either the Federal Term Employees who have lost their positions due to restructuring or the contract employees whose contract is ending in FY12.”

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