Thursday, May 7, 2009

Complaining officer's powers removed

Complaining officer's powers removed | Cincinnati Enquirer | Cincinnati.Com

When I first started out in the USAF, if a senior officer disciplined a junior officer or NCO it went pretty much unchallenged unless it was a gross abuse of power.  Disciplinary actions were carried out and weren't subject to the level of second guessing that is now common place.

By no means were all of these disciplinary actions well founded or even carried out equitably.  Hence more and more appeals and review actions were implemented.  If all disciplinary actions were carried out fairly, appeals and reviews would be the exception and not the norm.

Creating multiple opportunities to have a disciplinary action reviewed had the unintended consequence of having almost every action subjected to review.  In other words, the power of commanders was drastically curtailed.  Maintaining good order and discipline has become very challenging for military officers.  

I can't imagine the level of scrutiny Chief Streicher and Chief Wright face.  Each disciplinary action taken against a police officer or firefighter is immediately questioned and scrutinized by the media.  The union immediately weighs in as well often protecting the weakest link rather than insuring fair work practices.  The Chiefs also face the scrutiny of city hall and various citizen action groups.  I'm not saying all of their decisions are correct, merely pointing out the challenges of their jobs.

I have no idea what Lt Col Janke did other than what was reported in the newspaper.  Anyone who has worn a uniform can tell you if the commander kicks you that hard and that far, it wasn't because you merely raised your voice.  The whole episode getting played out in the paper is all about the individual and not about justice.  There are both legal and contractual means of filing grievances and requesting appeals.  It doesn't need to be drug out in the media where only part of the story gets told.

Reliance on the media to bring pressure on the boss is becoming so common place across industry and the country.  An employee facing disciplinary action or job termination seems to automatically contact the media.  It makes for sensational headlines but in the end, what do they hope to achieve?  If the employee is exonerated, they will forever carrying the stain of having gone outside the organization to tell their story.  Whistle-blower protections only protect against retaliation/adverse personnel actions, it does not guarantee upward mobility for the individual.  An employee who has gone to the media may be protected in some cases but their career will most likely stagnant if they stay with the same agency or company.

If the individual is proven to be deserving of the disciplinary action, then it is all over the media for the world to see.  It will make it even harder for the individual to start anew.

I hope over time there can be a balance struck between the needs of managers and supervisors to maintain discipline and oversight of those actions.

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