Unit 6 Assignment
Scenarios: Bad Behavior and the Difficult Employee
CJ345: Supervisory Practices in Criminal Justice
In the first scenario, Sergeant Stevens reported that he heard two male officers telling sexually explicit jokes, and a female dispatcher was nearby. The sergeant didn’t say anything, but he made a report of the situation.
Sergeant Stevens made no attempt at speaking to the officers about their behavior. The female employee could file a sexual harassment complaint, and the two officers would have to explain their behavior to IA (Internal Affairs) and/or CID (Criminal Investigation Division). The two officers are working in a mainly male-dominated work environment, but that doesn’t allow them to use public spaces as a backdrop for their lewd jokes.
One problem is that the sergeant is ambivalent. (More & Miller, 2014) He probably identifies with the officers and doesn’t want to make a scene that would throw him into the spotlight of ridicule by the other officers. In the same sense, he doesn’t want to make a scene that would call for attention on the officers’ behavior. This is termed “being thrown under the bus”. By allowing the officers the make those jokes, in a public space, and within earshot of a female employee, the sergeant has shown a blatant disregard for enforcing any rules and regulations concerning sexual harassment complaints.
Sergeant Stevens needed to confront the officers, in a private setting, and speak with them about their use of sexual remarks. After getting a report from each officer, the sergeant could also speak with the female employee and gather her thoughts about the situation. It may be possible that she was a catalyst in the conversation and wasn’t at all bothered by the comments. It could also be possible that she was offended, but too afraid to say anything to anyone. Another scenario could be that she was going to report the situation and wanted to speak with someone, maybe the sergeant, about the officers remarks, before she filed a complaint with the administration.
The officers may be feeling too complacent in their roles as police officers, surrounded by civilian personnel. They aren’t bothered by the fact that their comments could land them in a heap of trouble, possibly even in a civil lawsuit. Their behavior would best be categorized as being indifferent. (More & Miller, 2014) They may see the agency as being male-dominated, and by that fact alone, they should be allowed to say anything they want regardless of whom could be listening. Their work level may be just at the minimum level, and the sergeant needs to address this as well.
However, with the sergeant already being classified as ambivalent, his attitude of the situation seems clear because he didn’t bother to say anything to the officers. He just wanted to clear himself of any wrong-doing by documenting the situation and filing a report. This would allow him to recognize that a sexual comment was made, and that a female employee was nearby when that comment was made. By having a report filed, he could thereby claim his innocence of just letting the situation go without being addressed at all.
The sergeant is also probably seeking some approval from his superior officers. Even though his ability to deal with complicated situations leaves something to be desired, he will work for his pay as long as he’s enjoying the benefits of recognition.
As long as the sergeant continues to observe-and-report these types of situations, he feels as though he has done his job. In fact, the opposite is true. The report was a good step, but he missed out on an opportunity to discipline, not necessarily punish, the two officers. Now the fact remains that the officers will continue to use lewd comments and jokes, and the department may suffer from the actions of just a few.
In the second scenario, Officer Smith is a difficult employee, speaking with sarcasm at roll call, and giving grief about new policy changes and orders. And, until recently, he was a productive employee. However, the recent change to minimal effort stems from disciplinary charges that he received from his sergeant.
Although it’s not clear what prompted the disciplinary charges, Officer Smith appears to run a gamut of characteristics associated with problem employees.
If Officer Smith has some kind of specialized training, or even a college degree, he would fall into the group known as erudite. He might see himself as an intellectual compared to the other officers, and his input is valued to him. The sergeant can deal with this type of employee by acknowledging the contributions made by Officer Smith. (More & Miller, 2014)
Officer Smith has shown to have a disdain for policy changes, and he reflects this in his comments during roll call. This is a defeatist attitude. With his constant stream of complaining and disruptions, the other officers may begin to follow his lead and this would ultimately lead to chaos within the shift and even the department. The sergeant would best be suited to confront Officer Smith directly, being specific in any question, and avoiding questions that only need general answers. Officer Smith should be asked to explain his position. There may be something at the root of his complaints that hasn’t been addressed properly. The sergeant can handle this by providing written documentation of the rules and procedures so that Officer Smith will have a visual record to back up policies, especially new policies that are being tested on a small scale. The sergeant does not need to concern himself with trying to change Officer Smith’s attitude, but he should keep a written record of each outburst. (More & Miller, 2014)
Because the other officers view Officer Smith as a worthy leader, there may be some manipulation happening as well. Being deceitful and creating conflict are some attributes of those that seek to manipulate their fellow officers and coworkers. Many times, less educated and socially awkward officers may not recognize the deceit as being purposeful. These officers may gravitate to the manipulator because of a shared bond for something or someone. Others may keep the manipulator at bay by pretending to be a friend so that they themselves aren’t targeted by any conflict or strife. If this is the case for Officer Smith, his sergeant needs to document each case of manipulation, and then objectively refute Officer Smith. (More & Miller, 2014)
Because his performance has dropped significantly, it is obvious that there is some underlying stress mechanism at work. It may be possible that Officer Smith no feels compelled to bring a high-level of achievement to his work because he is simply bored. It’s not uncommon for officers to get frustrated with a daily routine that doesn’t change often. If the sergeant would ask direct questions about the daily routines for Officer Smith, he might learn of the boredom. This would be easily handled by giving Officer Smith something new and even challenging in order to raise his overall morale. (More & Miller, 2014)
Another issue could simply be that the shift work has become a problem at the home. As anybody knows, police agencies typically demand a 24-hour, 7 day a week, response to all calls for service. Someone has to work at any given time of the day. Night shift makes things extremely difficult for the person that doesn’t sleep well during the day. Noises, phone calls, appointments, shopping, etc., are usually all done during daylight hours, and this makes for a rugged sleep pattern. The sergeant should evaluate Officer Smith’s performance for his time during each of the available shifts. If his work performance is better during day shifts, the sergeant might consider keeping Officer Smith on during the day for a while, until things need to changed. There may even be a permanent day shift available for him. (More & Miller, 2014)
If all else fails and there just doesn’t seem to be a nice, neat solution, then maybe a FFDE (Fitness-for-duty evaluation) should be performed. (More & Miller, 2014) It may be possible that Officer Smith is no longer qualified to handle the rigorous mental and physical demands of the job. If he is about to have a mental breakdown, it would be wise to determine this before it happens. Officer Smith could find himself in a very dangerous and/or deadly situation. Many officers find themselves trapped in their own thoughts and suicide among officers are all too common. Some officers will even resort to a method called “suicide by cop” in which they will not shoot themselves, but instead put themselves in the line of fire of other officers. In their mind they did not die by their own hand. (Caruso, n.d.)
In each situation, the sergeant has a lot to consider. Without knowing all of the facts surround Officer Smith’s disciplinary charges, I would suggest a formal evaluation of the officer’s mental faculties. With the incident involving the two officers and their sexual innuendo joke, Sergeant Stevens needs to be more proactive in reminding his officers that their behavior and attitudes are a direct reflection of the department as a whole. Should they feel the need to tell those kinds of jokes to each other, it should be in the privacy of their own homes and not at the work place.
More, W., H., Miller, S., L. (01/2014). Effective Police Supervision, 7th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://kaplan.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781455777600/
Caruso, K. (n.d.). Suicide by Cop. Article retrieved from http://www.suicide.org/suicide-by-cop.html