U05: Abuse of power turns into an ethical issue

Nolanville Police Chief Gary Kent resigns from his position as a result of accusations of harassment on female police officers and violation of police policies. “Chief Kent made several comments about how he likes ‘blonde women’ and offered to have (a) female police officer … go dye her hair back to blonde while ‘on the clock.’” (kdhnews.com) With proper management training on organization climate could this behavior have been avoided? Organizational climate is the responses of organizational members to the organization. (PSU)

The female officers filed complaints that Kent acted unprofessionally. The officers stepped forward because it was emotionally draining for them, they didn’t want to hear the inappropriate comments and they didn’t want to work for the station without the city knowing about it.

Once this was investigated, they also found that Kent changed monthly call reports, mismanaged pay stub collection, made inappropriate comments, worked on an election campaign while on duty, attempted to falsify employee’s applications, mismanagement of the Toys for Tots program and was part of an incident involving the injury of an officer at a gun range.(kdhnews.com) Kent ultimately abused his power that eventually cost him his job.

Principle E of the APA ethics code, which relates to Respect for People’s rights and dignity is very important in this situation. Kent should have respect the rights and dignity of these female officers. Instead, he only thought of himself and the inappropriate comments that he made. The affective component of organizational climate can be related to Kent, as his concerns for interpersonal relationships in the workplace, played a key role in his behavior.

The ethical criterion egoism, is another important aspect of this situation. Kent was doing what was best for himself. This behavior is clearly something that he enjoyed and thought that he could get away with it because of his role in the organization. As a leader, Kent should have known better than to behave in this manner, however as a result of this behavior, he lost his job and possibly ruined his reputation in the process. “If leaders do not actually exhibit the values of the organization, followers conclude that the values are not that important, and they become less likely to follow those values.” (PSU) By the Chief of police acting in this manner, it sets the tone, in a sense, that this behavior is ok. Therefore, Kent had to resign or otherwise face getting fired.

References:

http://kdhnews.com/news/local/nolanville-chief-faced-misconduct-allegations-city-documents-show/article_803f170a-aed3-11e6-9c96-8fe659576e4d.html retrieved on 12/1/16

American Psychological Association. (2010, June 1). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct: Including 2010 amendments. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/

Pennsylvania State University. (2016). Unit 05, lesson 13: Ethical climate [Canvas]. Ethics and Leadership: Psychological and Social Processes. Retrieved from http://psu.instructure.

One Comment

  1. Lisa Schmidt December 4, 2016 at 8:46 PM #

    Kimberly,
    This is a good example of a leader not upholding the values of the organization. As I read your post I was thinking of the several Commanding Officers/General Officers that have fired or relieved of command over the past several years within our military. One of the officers that come to mind is General Petraeus. To summarize what happened with General Petraeus, he shared classified information with his biographer, who had the clearance, who was also his mistress.; in addition, he lied to the FBI during the investigation. Much like Chief Kent, the decisions that General Petraeus not only caused discredit upon himself and the office that he once held, but also created an unethical environment for his subordinates. As we learned in lesson 13, since General Petraeus, an inherent leader, didn’t exhibit values of the organization, followers therefore think that values aren’t important that most likely won’t follow them (PSU, 2016).

    Reference:
    Pennsylvania State University. (2016). Unit 05, lesson 13: Ethical climate [Canvas]. Ethics and Leadership: Psychological and Social Processes. Retrieved from http://psu.instructure.

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