The Right Decision of State Police Leaders


“Nothing will kill a great employee faster than seeing you tolerate a bad one.” Perry Belcher

I saw this posted on LinkedIn. The truth is, I don’t even know who Perry Belcher is, but his statement sure hit the mark. Morale is one of those intangibles that cannot be objectively measured, but is as important as any recorded performance statistic. Morale doesn’t appear on a spreadsheet or stat chart, but it’s critical to the success of any organization.

I commend State Police Commissioner James Rovella and Col. Stavros Mellekas for addressing an ugly problem: the cheating scandal within the current Connecticut State Police Academy class. Their action to fire eight recruits – who were just days away from graduating – not only sends a powerful message to the remaining 54 recruits (and all recruits who follow), but also resonates with the 888 current members of the sworn staff.

Commissioner Rovella and Colonel Mellekas acknowledged that while the initial misconduct of cheating was troubling, the denial of cheating was more egregious. While the first could have been dealt with with punishment, the second was fatal. Anyone can make a bad decision, but the inability to own up to that decision and lie to cover it up cannot be tolerated or corrected. Undoubtedly, given the current staffing crunch, the last thing the state police chief wanted to do was cut the promotion by 13%. However, the worst alternative was to discipline violators and then let them graduate and become law enforcers.

In my book, I addressed this issue even when I was forced by circumstances to become a whistleblower. However, in my case, the FBI decided it was more important to save face and defend the misconduct of its agents. Instead of conducting a legitimate investigation, the FBI chose to conduct a limited scope “investigation”, which is a fancy word for a whitewash. It fooled no one, let alone a federal judge and jury. This is one of the reasons the FBI periodically finds itself with the recurring stain of ethical lapses. The federal agency is more concerned with seeing its public image tarnished than seriously addressing misconduct.

Good for Commissioner Rovella and Colonel Mellekas…for the good of the State of Connecticut.

Greg Dillon is the author of “The Thin Blue Lie: An Honest Cop vs. The FBI”. He served as a Branford police officer, FBI agent, and detective in the state attorney general’s office during his 30-year career.


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