disciplinary charges for not reporting to work and for filing a fraudulent sick leave request form.

disciplinary charges for not reporting to work and for filing a fraudulent sick leave request form.

switch with him, so his final appeal rested with Sergeant Rick. For Sergeant Rick, the decision was tough, but he stood his ground, not allowing Johnson to take the day off. When Officer Johnson did not show up for work, it was assumed that he had taken a sick day, but department policy required that a visit be made to the homes of officers who had “abused” the sick leave policy. Johnson was categorized as a sick leave abuser based on his previous year’s usage of sick leave. If he was not home during the visit, he faced disciplinary charges for not reporting to work and for filing a fraudulent sick leave request form.

Sergeant Rick knew that if he went to the officer’s home he would not be there. What should he do? He empathized with the officer because he had experienced similar issues with his children when they were growing up. However, Rick knew that his integrity and ability to effectively supervise all officers was being called into question. He also knew that other officers were watching how he was going to react in this situation; his boss, Lieutenant Murray, could be brought into the situation. As Rick expected, Officer Johnson was not at home when he visited, so when he did show up for work on his next working day, Sergeant Rick confronted him.

He informed Johnson that he was going to recommend that disciplinary action be taken against him by Lieutenant Murray. The officer, upon hearing the news, was infuriated and filed a union grievance against Sergeant Rick, stating that his actions were to “single” him out and that it was common practice in the prison to give people days off for “special circumstances.” The lieutenant got involved in the dispute only as the person who would have to formally react to the allegations and mete out discipline to Johnson if justified. The lieutenant decided in favor of Officer Johnson and recommended no action be taken against him. Sergeant Rick was dismayed by the decision; he approached Murray to determine why his recommendation for discipline of Johnson was overturned. Rick felt he was being undermined by his immediate supervisor. He also felt that he was being tugged by two different loyalties: one to his former officers and one to his new supervisor. The lieutenant ended the matter by stating to him in confidence, “If you knew how to supervise officers you would not have gotten into this trouble. Before you bring this type of bullshit case to me again and it blows up in your face, like this one did, think of the consequences you will pay.”

This experience made Sergeant Rick consider whether or not being a supervisor was worth all the hassles. He had spent days documenting how his actions were correct and consistent with departmental policy, only to have it all fall apart when reviewed by the lieutenant. He learned from the experience that keeping a low profile is what needed to be done. Don’t rock the boat and don’t make the lieutenant look bad. Supervision was about “covering your ass” and not holding line officers accountable.

Sergeant Rick rose to the rank of correctional lieutenant and retired under a cloud after serving twenty years with the department. He never was able to resolve the dilemma of serving two sometimes-competing interests as a correctional supervisor. Other supervisors labeled him as “mushroom Rick.” Similar to a mushroom, he wanted to be kept in the dark, especially regarding officer improprieties. This supervision style finally blew up on him when some officers were caught holding “gladiator games” among rival gangs in the prison and betting huge sums of money, all on his watch. An external investigation by the state’s watchdog group for prisons found that mismanagement and poor supervision were at the heart of problems in SCI prison. They recommended that all first-line supervisors be given more training on how to supervise and that accountability standards be implemented. Sergeant Rick’s supervisory practices were offered as examples of how not to supervise correctional officers.
disciplinary charges for not reporting to work and for filing a fraudulent sick leave request form.

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