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Recently one of our senior officers was caught downloading the personal contents of a female firefighters phone onto a company computer. The data included every text message ever sent on that phone, every e-mail, basically every data entry ever entered onto her phone. These actions were preceeded by an unwanted advance from the officer onto the firefighter. In your departments, what would be done about this? What would you do about it?

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WOW. Improper conduct for sure. At the top of my the list for VIOLATIONS is a violation of her right of privacy, next is sexual harassment, next is hostile work environment, followed up by stalking which is a criminal act in most states. I would add theft if he got the phone from her without her knowledge.

The CHIEF needs to step in and conduct an investigation using an outside investigator. Inside personnel conducting the investigation tend to get blocked by the “troops” and the outcomes are generally not productive or successful.

The offending officer needs to be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation and have the local cops investigate this action as he is probably doing this to other females. I doubt this is an isolated incident.

A deeper investigation needs to be conducted with the female firefighter as to the effect it had on her job and her role, if any, into this incident. This may extend to other female firefighters in the department as the officer may have conducted himself in this manner with other female firefighters and they were afraid to report this behavior.

In my department, this action is considered conduct unbecoming an officer and after a proper investigation and findings against him, he would be disciplined and possibly demoted and if egregious enough, terminated. A lawyer would have a field day with this as she can file a claim with the EEOC for any of the above mentioned items in addition to a restraining order against the senior officer. If the department fails to act, it’s a cakewalk to the bank for her.

If this is the Chief, the issue needs to be taken to the Board of Supervisors, Commissioners or his bosses for the aforementioned actions.

Finally, it appears that there needs to be some training on harassment, sexual harassment and hostile working environment and defining permissible and impermissible conduct.

Good luck
As a retired NCO, anyone that I found doing that; I'd give him 2 weeks w/o pay, reduce him in rank and have him placed on probation from 6 months to a year. If he is the front line supervisor of the female, I'd fire him.

Sexual harassment is a deal breaker with me. If you are going to trust me with your life, you should trust me to keep you safe in EVERY situation. Cough (pouring booze into an underage vollie at a convention) cough, (stupid@$$) cough.
Fired. This would be seen as a huge liability to not proceed with the most aggressive possible disciplinary action. The unwanted advance and then this? Seems pretty cut and dry, though there are always two sides. Well, maybe one and a half sides to a harassment case. Of course all of this would follow a prescribed disciplinary process with built in hearing(s), but I'm certain our City Attorney would be pressing for termination.
Eric:

My thoughts and my thoughts only, because that is what this site is all about. I can only comment you the statements that you have provided. As I do not have 100% of the facts.

I think any time a firefighter intentionally causes harm to another firefighter, that person needs to look at their self and question why they are in the fire service. AT NO time would I ever stand around and allow another firefighter do harm to another. That kind of conduct would not be tolerated on my shift nor would be tolerated at my firehouse. A stance should not only be taken by you towards that firefighter, a stance should be taken by every firefighter on your shift and department. To me there is no room for that behavior in the fire service!

They can't be trusted in the fire house, they can't be trusted on the fire ground!

Your Friend,
Todd McKee
-Any member, regardless of rank, that does something like this would be disciplined up to and including termination and be subject to criminal prosecution.
TERMINATION is the only option.
Now that you have posted this...you too are obligated to act. Have the courage to keep this conduct out of our workplaces! How would you feel, were it being done to your wife (significant other) or daughter at her place of business, or even yourself?
John K. Murphy,
Great answer. the procedure you mentioned is fair and unbiased. We do not have any female firefighters at my departments, but the procedure you mentioned is similiar. One added note from my deparmtents is that we all had to read and sign a new SOP about conduct with computers and other tehcnological devices. That Officer's conduct violates the by laws of what we are expected and allowed to use computers for. He/she would be immediately suspended and an investigation would be conducted pending termination. We have a zero tolerance when it comes to inappropriate computer use.
I get pretty steamed when I hear things like this. I think that disrespecting someone, male or female, that trusts you to make decisions that put them in harms way is completely unacceptable. Now we have only heard one side and though he is in the hot-seat, he deserves respect as a brother. If he actually did these things, then he should be paraded in front of a detail of brother and sister firefighters when he is fired.
My initial thought after talking to her was to take him out back and throw him a beating. Not going to lie. But I knew I'd be in the wrong, as good as it would have felt. I was heated to say the least, I still am. We're a small combination department, about 40 members. Everyone is on a first name basis here, we like it that way. I called the Chief and told him that he and I needed to talk. I calmly told him what happened and that it would be a good idea to keep the Captain away from me for a while. Since then I've had a second meeting with the Chief where we discussed everything. Nothing public has been done yet. I know quite a few of our members are giving the Chief to the end of the month to act or they say that they're going to the board of directors with this. Personally, I prefer that things be handled in house. Guess we'll see what happens.

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