How A Toy Dinosaur Sparked A Police Officer’s Resignation – Workplace Bullying Story
Today’s workplaces require strong leadership. Those workplaces need individuals who role model professional and compassionate behaviour and who champion respectful workplaces, sending a strong message that inappropriate and bullying behaviour will not be tolerated.
Recently I wrote about the leadership qualities exhibited and exemplified by Ernest Shackleton and the impact that he had had within his ‘workplace.’
Well, there is story being circulated from the small community of Morano, New South Wales, Australia concerning a dinosaur and the awful impact it has had in the lives of several people. Non more so probably than Lucie Litchfield, who claims that she was forced to resign from the Morano police department because of the bullying she endured following a call which involved the dinosaur.
Leadership and Dinosaurs?
The story which appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald appears to revolve around a badly handled police incident where a vehicle ‘similar’ to the car driving away from a home invasion call was pulled over and the occupants commented that they had no weapons in the vehicle but they did have a dinosaur.
Ms. Litchfield, a police officer with the Morano Local Area Command (part of the New South Wales Police) at the time of the incident (21st December 2013) had a different point of view from two of her male colleagues regarding what followed that comment from the vehicle’s occupants. What was clear was that there was certainly a use-of-force incident and the two male officers claimed that they were attacked by the two males in the car and responded by detaining them both, during which force was used.
Ms. Litchfield was also there at the time of the vehicle stop and the men’s detention and claimed that it was actually the male officers who were the aggressors.
That difference eventually let to the assault charges being dropped and the New South Wales police being ordered to pay the two males more than $100,000 (AUS) after a court determined that the ‘prosecution had been handled in an unreasonable manner.’
The fallout from Ms. Litchfield contradictory evidence appears to have led to a series of incidents in the police station itself where her fellow officers abruptly began behaving very differently towards her.
Ms. Litchfield says she was isolated, bullied and victimized by her colleagues at Monaro, from senior officers to the rank and file.
“It was toxic,” she says in the Sydney Morning Herald article. “I’d walk into a room and they’d get up and leave or I’d walk into a room and they’d just immediately stop talking. Unfortunately, the culture of the police force is that people gossip and then there’s a lot of rumour and innuendo going around without any evidence to support it.”
The former officer says that on one occasion she returned to her work station to find that a copy of the force’s policy regarding the protection of internal police complainants had been placed on her desk. “The suggestion was that I needed protection,” Ms. Litchfield says.
She made a formal complaint over the incident, but says it was not taken seriously and those investigating the matter were unable to find out who was responsible. She says this was indicative of a lack of support from senior officers at Monaro.
Ms. Litchfield stated that she felt that she had no support and things were going from bad to worse and that she had no option but to resign, something that was probably a million miles away from her mind before the incident back on 21st December 2013.
On the face of the story, it sounds like that role modeling behaviour which I was trumpeting earlier, that compassionate support from her leaders within the workplace, the ones who are supposed to champion appropriate behaviour and hold others accountable, was sadly lacking for Ms. Litchfield.
There’s still work to be done – perhaps we are back to the dark ages with this obvious lack of progress.
Or maybe back even further….to a time when there were dinosaurs.