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The Whistleblower Conundrum

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  • The Whistleblower Conundrum

    "If you know something, say something."

    Or so I was told my entire career. At academy training. At professional development day. During annual ethics training. The mantra was always the same: Public trust is integral. There is a process to address waste, fraud and abuse. You are obligated to report it. If you don't report it, you can be fired and even criminally charged (malfeasance of a felony).

    So twice I did what I was told and notified the power structure about waste and abuse. First time involved misuse of the DRMO program (surplus military equipment was obtained for personal, not official use). Second time involved a grossly unfit, mentally deranged supervisor who was causing significant internal problems and destroying crucial partner relationships.

    Management response for my first report: "No one misses that stuff."

    Management response for my second report: "As far as we are concerned, so and so is a hard charger who demands accountability."

    Both times, no accountability resulted (although the whacko supervisor did get transferred, only to burn down another district).

    The lessons I learned:

    -The whistleblower process was mostly a joke.

    -Management won't address serious problems unless they get publicly shoved down their throat and they are forced to deal with them. But they won't hesitate to sledgehammer the little problems.

    -The first person who breaches the castle wall gets the bloodiest.

    Basically, if you do go through the process, your career will never be the same. It very well might even be over.

    We're seeing the dynamic play out on the national stage right now:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/26/trum...ce-to-spy.html


    Just curious if others have had similar experiences.....



    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

    Hanlon's razor

  • #2
    I'll give you a "like." Beyond that...well, I'm still in the trenches, so I'll keep the details to myself.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

    Comment


    • #3
      I've seen similar situations and it all seems to come down to whose ox is being gored?

      Many years ago, one of my officers had a side business as a gun dealer. Another officer approached him and asked his assistance in purchasing a silencer, which is highly illegal in my state. In soliciting the purchase, the officer suggested he was going to use the silencer to kill two supervisors and two managers within the department. Not wanting to be involved in such a mess, the gun dealer officer reported the event and BATF became involved. The officer who solicited the purchase was arrested by Federal agents as he took possession of the silencer in a controlled buy. After the arrest, he changed his threat from an implied one to a direct one.

      In spite of the fact that the officer had solicited purchase of the silencer to kill fellow cops, a good segment of the department turned against the officer who blew the whistle, simply because the arrested officer was their friend. The facts and the truth didn't matter. Again, it all depends on whose ox is being gored.

      (The arrested officer later plead guilty in Federal court.)
      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

      Comment


      • #4
        My experiences have been much like the OP's. Administrators hate any publicity that reflects badly on their administration. It can be much easier to silence the whistleblower than to deal with the problem, or even admit the possibility of a problem. Remember the stories about the ancient king known for killing the messengers who brought bad news?

        I never troubled myself much over trivial stuff, but I have stepped up in a couple of cases involving serious misconduct.

        I remember a young officer who liked to hurt and humiliate people. First time I saw him slapping a handcuffed prisoner around I called him on it and reported it to the boss. My written memo disappeared and I was told to drop the matter. Second time I caught him beating a handcuffed prisoner with a flashlight I arrested the jerk, disarmed him, put him in a holding cell and called the chief at home. Nothing happened except I was transferred to another shift after my written report was torn up in front of me. About 10 years later I heard that the jerk had been terminated following a domestic violence conviction.

        Knew a vice officer once who owned a small apartment house. Had a couple of hookers running a hot sheets trick pad on his property, with his girlfriend collecting hourly fees. He was transferred out of vice and into property crimes.

        Doing background investigations for a state agency and one position ran through about 15 applicants (accounting job), each requiring interview, photo, fingerprinting, criminal history check, credit reports, and all the usual stuff. Asked the division supervisor what was going on, he told me that they wanted to hire #33 on the eligible list, but had to call applicants in groups of 5 for interview before calling another group of 5, so it would be 33 backgrounds for me to initiate before they hired the candidate they wanted. Why, you might ask? Seems that #33 was the deputy director's daughter-in-law. I wrote up a report and submitted it up the chain. Report disappeared and they hired #33, then a new unwritten policy was declared; they would tell me which applicant they wanted to hire before interviews started, saving me hundreds of hours of work and tons of useless paperwork. Ain't a civil service system wonderful?

        Got a tip of a mid-level supervisor submitting false expense reports (to the tune of doubling his salary every month (felony embezzlement of public funds). Conducted my investigation, got my evidence, witness statements, and photos. Guy was promoted and transferred to another division within the agency. Shortly thereafter I was directed not to open any new investigations without submitting all the pertinent information (and names) in advance to the Director's office because the agency was under scrutiny by a legislative committee and they wanted no embarrassing incidents.

        Worked with another investigator (senior to me) who was running a side business (alarm systems, surveillance cameras, etc) on duty time, using his state car, using his state office phone for long distance calls, and billing personal business expenses on his agency expense reports. Tried to talk to the guy, he laughed at me and told me to mind my own business. Gathered all the documentation and evidence, submitted my report. Director told me to mind my own business and stop bothering him with such matters or it could affect my assignments and promotional opportunities.

        Deputy director involved in a drunk driving accident in his state car, off duty time, 2 people injured. I was told to get all the police reports and get the local PD to downplay the incident while they sent one of the legal staff to try and settle the matter quietly. I begged off, but it happened anyway. Bozo later lateralled to another state agency, got drunk again and ran his state car into a bridge abutment. At least he had to decency to die at the scene.

        Kickbacks on state contracts, expensive gifts (golf resort trips and others) from contractors or vendors to supervisors in charge of contracts, political favors done by state officials on duty time, I've seen more swept under the rug than I ever saw made public.

        Comment


        • #5
          We're seeing the dynamic play out on the national stage right now
          no, we aren’t.

          A whistleblower reports a serious problem that’s been ignored by the powers that be.

          a whistle blower is NOT someone who fabricates a lie out of whole cloth for political purposes, about a subject that they couldn’t possibly have any direct knowledge of even if it existed.

          a Chief embezzling money, when there is money missing and the complainant has some connection to accounting, might be a subject for a whistleblower complaint.

          a complaint about a chief banging his secretary in the office closet, when the chief doesn’t have a secretary or a closet and the complainant has never set foot inside the building, is not.
          "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

          "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

          Comment


          • #6
            You also have to look at retaliation. Yes there are laws that clearly state whistleblower retaliation is a violation of law but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. I personally know 3 people who have reported issues as a whistleblower and all 3 of these federal employees for fired 6-12 months later. All 3 of these employees petitioned to be reinstated; 1 won at the MSPB level and was rehired, 1 lost at the federal district level (after losing at the MSPB) and due to the fact the Supreme Court was next he decided to give up and move on with his life and this was after he served collectively for the federal government for 18 years and the 3rd person took it all the way to the Supreme Court and won.

            So be careful because if you decide to be the whistleblower it could end your career and you could be tied up in courts for years trying to get your job back.

            Last edited by pissedoff; 09-28-2019, 06:44 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              So be careful because if you decide to be the whistleblower it could end your career and you could be tied up in courts for years trying to get your job back.
              ...and whistle blower protections don’t extend to legitimate disciplinary action. If you’re going to be a whistleblower make sure you’re above reproach yourself.
              "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

              "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

              Comment


              • pissedoff
                pissedoff commented
                Editing a comment
                100% correct. That’s how the agencies get around it. They will dig deep and find something else to fire the employee who made the whistleblower disclosure. It’s the oldest trick in the book. So if you have the balls to report something make sure your ‘house’ is squared away because ‘they’ will look for anything to screw you and fire you.

            • #8
              It's being played out on a national stage and I have my popcorn, candy and soft drink. You can survive being a whistleblower, especially if the Chief has a meltdown in front of other department directors, it was not a pretty sight. He was gone within 3 months.
              Last edited by retired137; 09-29-2019, 10:04 AM.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by retired137 View Post
                It's bring played out on a national stage and I have my popcorn, candy and soft drink. You can survive being a whistleblower, especially if the Chief has a meltdown in front of other department directors, it was not a pretty sight. He was gone within 3 months.

                The 'process' is intended, however, to not be played out in public. But you're right- when the sunlight hits the cellar floor and the roaches scatter... when the wall of lies comes crashing down... when the public becomes aware of the crime and the cover up.... that's when the meltdown occurs.
                “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

                Hanlon's razor

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by Ratatatat View Post


                  The 'process' is intended, however, to not be played out in public. But you're right- when the sunlight hits the cellar floor and the roaches scatter... when the wall of lies comes crashing down... when the public becomes aware of the crime and the cover up.... that's when the meltdown occurs.
                  HOWEVER, the majority of the time it takes media sunshine to work . A whispered whistle blow often gets ignored. A shouted one gets heard ( and SOMETIMES acted upon)
                  Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                  My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by Iowa #1603 View Post

                    HOWEVER, the majority of the time it takes media sunshine to work . A whispered whistle blow often gets ignored. A shouted one gets heard ( and SOMETIMES acted upon)
                    It's amazing what happens when the council members, mayor and city manager are included in the email string. They sat on it for a minute then the media got wind of it. I had never seen a department director head abruptly head for an exit. That was all it took.......

                    Comment

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