The Coast Guard Academy failed to properly investigate, track and discipline several race-based harassment claims, according to a newly published report from the Office of Inspector General.
The OIG, under the Department of Homeland Security, launched an investigation into the CGA in 2018 and evaluated how the Academy handled race-based harassment incidents and allegations during a five year period, from 2013 to 2018. Of the 16 allegations they reviewed, they found issues with how the Academy addressed 11 of the incidents.
The report outlines incidents where the OIG believes the Academy did not thoroughly investigate, discipline or track hate incidents. Several examples are listed including multiple allegations of people using racial slurs and an incident of cadets watching and laughing at a black face video. The OIG wrote that in several instances people were not disciplined even though an investigation found their behavior to violate policy.
According to the report, for one incident, an investigating officer did not pursue three allegations further because, "he said he followed oral instructions not to go on a 'witch hunt.'"
The report also found that race-based harassment is underreported at the Academy for various reasons, including concerns about negative consequences for the reporting cadet.
"I was not here during the period of the report from 2013 to 2018. I am here now. I own the report. I accept the report. The US Coast Guard recognizes the report and we are fully committed," said Rear Admiral William Kelly, superintendent of the United States Coast Guard Academy. "That is not indicative of the United States Coast Guard Academy today."
Kelly said that work is already being done to address concerns. The OIG offered five recommendations ranging from mandatory training to changing the way the investigative process is documented. The CGA has already made changes to meet one requirement.
"There are efforts large and small, but my responsibility, I believe as superintendent of this institution, is to create a climate where those discussions can happen, where folks can feel safe and secure and we can be truly and inclusive community," said Kelly. "It identifies things with our culture that we need to continue to address and we need to continue to work."
Congressman Joe Courtney, (D-2nd District), released a statement saying, in part, "This is a fundamental problem that stunts the goal of an inclusive academy that can tap into the ‘best and brightest’ of America regardless of race, gender, or ethnic background. This report sets out a road map to achieve inclusion with specific recommendations whose implementation Congress will track.”