AND YET AGAIN we have a public employee who can’t understand why the behavior was wrong.
Former Kingston Assistant Police Chief Dan Hunsinger refuses “to be made a scapegoat.” He complains he wasn’t contacted and no one returned his calls during an investigation into unreported payments to Kingston cops doing after-hours security work, proving “they had already made up their minds.” He grumbles about an effort “to make this out to be some sort of criminal conspiracy.”
Note Hunsinger doesn’t deny that he and outgoing Chief Keith Keiper violated a 2009 municipal policy that mandates prior approval for police to provide private security, and that payment for such security was supposed to pass through Kingston’s payroll system, as an investigation from an outside law firm revealed.
So, first rule of ethical behavior to remember: If you did what someone accuses you of, you’re not a “scapegoat.”
The second rule: If the evidence is as conclusive as it seemed to be in the 200-plus page report released by Kingston, see rule number one before complaining about no one talking to you.
And the third — and most important — rule: You don’t have to break any law to be unethical.
In the end, this isn’t about violating a law or a municipal policy. It’s about having the moral compass that can tell you when to pause and think things through. This was one such case. Police do a difficult and dangerous job, and the public owes them respect and due compensation. But officers, particularly brass, must remeber how important public trust is to getting their job done.
That trust is threatened by this behavior. Even when well intentioned, if police accept payment out of approved procedure for doing their job, they open themselves up to questions and doubt. Suddenly, the public has the right to ask what other compromises they are willing to make for personal profit.
Admittedly, there are gray areas when it comes to ethical behavior. This was not one such case. And the fact that Hunsinger seems unable to understand that is the real crime here.