Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Missing in Action: Leadership and Supervision

The Friday, January 19, 2007, Seattle Post-Intelligencer (P-I) carried a story by investigative reporters Eric Nalder and Lewis Kamb. The story was headlined Port officers sent explicit e-mails. The article's subhed was "Few received more than reprimand."

Referring to the P-I's story, a Spokane newspaper blogger commented, "Question: According to a Seattle PI poll, almost 40 percent of the work force has sent improper material via a work e-mail (including, of course, individuals in the Kootenai County sheriff's and prosecutor's offices). Why are people so clueless?"

Whitecaps' response to that blogger was succinct: "People", meaning subordinate employees, are not clueless. They are merely adopting the behaviors tolerated and exhibited by their "leaders" and "supervisors". Poor leadership and poor supervision begets poor subordinate behavior. One doesn't need to go outside the boundaries of Coeur d'Alene and Kootenai County to see that.

Whitecaps' assessment seems to be supported by today's P-I story headlined Port commission to call for investigation of e-mails. This article, also by P-I investigative reporters Nalder and Kamb, reveals the Port of Seattle Commissioners believe senior management in the Port of Seattle Police Department has misled them by understating the volume and content of the material exchanged. The article also notes, "The P-I filed a request under state public disclosure law 57 days ago for 'any and all' documents and e-mails generated during the disciplinary discussions in the e-mail case." It further states, "Though the port has released other documents in the case, and has acknowledged the P-I's right under the law to more, it has refused to release those related to the disciplinary discussion. The documents have apparently been prepared for release, with redactions, but an earlier promise to respond by Jan. 20 was not honored."

It was interesting and relevant to note that one of the Commissioners attributed the decision to launch a thorough investigation to the P-I's aggressive news coverage and its demand for more information under Washington's public records law.

In December 2006, ten Port of Seattle Police sergeants sent a letter to Chief Tim Kimsey. The P-I story said the letter raised "serious issues" about, "Strategic planning and direction; the internal investigations process; the administration of our complaint process; enforcement of policies and procedures department wide; morale; support from our command staff and the perceived indifference that is shown when these issues are raised."

Poor leadership and poor supervision beget poor subordinate performance. It's not a mystery.