Early in my first term as Sheriff, my command staff and I were confronted with a management situation that put the Dynamic of Discipline to the test.

There were two employees who were engaged in an improper action that clearly demanded some type of discipline. They were both essentially guilty of the same offense, but we noted that the character of the two individuals was clearly different. By applying the Rule of Discipline, we were able to come up with two entirely distinct disciplinary actions which ultimately resulted in the full restoration of both employees.

Rule of Discipline 

Let the nature of the offense determine the range of options
Let the character of the offender determine which option you choose

First, we determined what range of disciplinary options were available to us based on the nature of the offense. In this case, we had the full range of options available from counselling to termination. Secondly, we looked at the character of the individuals. I actually passed out a printed copy of the Path of Destruction dynagram from the Dynamic of Restoration which depicts the steps in the downward progression of a Renegade. I asked the staff to tell me where each employee fit on the dynagram.

Path of Destruction

Path of Destruction

With very little debate, they were in agreement that the first employee was typically very faithful, but just this once had stepped out from under a authority by demonstrating an Independent Spirit. We decided that counselling was all the action that was necessary. In fact, when the employee was confronted, she broke down in tears and demonstrated a genuinely repentant spirit as she expressed her heartfelt apologies over and over again. We never had another problem with her and she continued to be a very valuable member of our team.

The second employee was more of a challenge. He was in a supervisory position and, as such, needed to be held to a higher standard. Also, he had a reputation of being a renegade, consistently demonstrating a poor attitude and a lack of respect for his authorities. The debate was whether he was Unrestorable, in which case termination would have been the appropriate choice, or merely a Rebellious Spirit, in which case a severe, but more lenient option would be called for. I decided that we should give him the benefit of the doubt and attempt to restore him if possible. And that’s the same advice I give to you in implementing this principle. The tie should always go to the runner. If in doubt as to an employee’s character, consider being more lenient rather than more severe.

So, instead of termination, we chose demotion as the appropriate discipline option. Only we didn’t bump him just one rank, we bumped him down three ranks! I really thought that he would show a negative and rebellious reaction when he was informed of our decision. But he accepted it graciously and continued to work at the Sheriff’s Office for many years before retiring honorably. During those ensuing years, he was a very faithful employee and valued member of our team. He was meritoriously promoted and turned down a second promotion because he did not want to be assigned away from his team.

We spoke frankly about the situation many times. He continued to show repentance, an understanding of the predicament he had placed us in, and an appreciation for us giving him a second chance.


About the Author


2 Responses to Example of Discipline

  1. Brad Logan says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your Police Dynamics emails and videos. I forward all emails and videos to my Corporals to share with them the knowledge that you instill. Please do not think for a moment that you are wasting your time.

    Keep up the good and very valuable work and stay safe!!

    Sgt. Brad Logan
    Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office

    • Sheriff Ray says:

      Sarge:

      Thanks for the encouragement. I have long appreciated the great relationship that Police Dynamics has with the OK County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Whetsell has always been one of my biggest supporters…

      Sheriff Ray

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