Saturday, November 22, 2008

Whistleblowers - how viewed?

In many organizations, when an employee blows the whistle and complains outside the organization about things that are wrong (more than "wrong"), that person often ends up on the outs with his former colleagues.

This seems to be especially true in the world of law enforcement. When the dirt gets aired, everyone runs for cover. Counter-attacks are often launched; smears begin; getting the "spin" right is important to the organization.

I suspect that many colleagues of the whistleblower are silently applauding his bravery in challenging the system.

In the case in this week's news, Deputy Zane Seipler was fired by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department. This occurred less than a month after the October 21st McHenry County Merit Commission convened briefly in what I believe was a failed attempt to hold a Special Meeting entirely by teleconference. At that meeting they merely continued the hearing to February.

In a communication with Zane after he was fired, he shared this with me. He said, "The vast majority of Sheriff's deputies are good people and the reason for this lawsuit is so good people no longer have to be afraid of the Sheriff's Department."

There are some who will stand up to an organization. Zane is one of these men. By doing so, he is not only looking out for his own interests, but he is paving the way for wrongdoings to be corrected. It'll take a while. The best support he can have is for his friends to stand with him.

When you see something going south while you are on duty, stand up and speak out. Complain that you cannot, you will not, break the law to enforce it. Re-read your oath of office, especially the part about "protect and serve."

If you are asked to write something into a report that is not true, refuse. No discussion. No "ifs, ands or buts." OK, so you want to avoid being charged with insubordination for refused to follow an order. I understand that. So, when you write your report, then write it the way you are told to write it and add a sentence that "This report has been written under the guidance and at the direction of my supervisor, Sgt. ______, who told me specifically to write that ."

There are good deputies and good officers at work in McHenry County. They need our support.

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