- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2001

Top D.C. police officials have allowed the department's director of human services to keep his job despite an internal investigation that found he created a hostile environment for employees.
Complaints that Bert Ennis verbally abused, threatened and embarrassed workers in the police department's human services division were substantiated in an internal investigation conducted by Cmdr. Joseph F. Griffith, who reported his findings after the probe was completed Jan. 26.
Cmdr. Griffith recommended Mr. Ennis be severely disciplined but did not specify a punishment. He noted that Mr. Ennis had been placed on notice two years earlier for similar complaints against him but "has failed to modify his conduct."
"His sustained misconduct had the potential to bring discredit and embarrassment to the department if it became public," the police commander said in his report.
"The sustained allegations and findings and conclusions in this investigation support that Mr. Ennis has engaged in employment-related misconduct and malfeasance that has interfered with the efficiency and integrity of departmental operations and is 'cause' for discipline," the report states.
It could not be determined if Mr. Ennis has been disciplined or has changed his behavior since the completion of Cmdr. Griffith's investigation.
Mr. Ennis did not return telephone calls made to his office.
Executive Director of Corporate Support Eric Coard Mr. Ennis' boss since 1998 said he could not comment on a personnel matter.
Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey did not respond to requests for an interview.
D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, said she has received complaints from residents about Mr. Ennis.
"I requested and read the investigative report and was horrified. It shows a clear pattern of abusive behavior to subordinate employees, and District government workers have a right to far better treatment than that," said Mrs. Patterson, who heads the Judiciary Committee, which oversees the police department.
"Leaders in agencies have an obligation to protect employees from abuse by superiors, and that is a responsibility that apparently has been ignored in the Metropolitan Police Department," she said.
Mrs. Patterson said she has complained recently to Chief Ramsey and Mayor Anthony A. Williamsabout Mr. Ennis, but nothing has been done. She said Mr. Ennis sat with Chief Ramsey last Thursday when the chief appeared before her committee hearing on police manpower and personnel.
"What signal does it send to District employees when a senior official found guilty of workplace harassment is there, sitting next to the chief, testifying before the council, as happened last Thursday? The message is 'anything goes,'" Mrs. Patterson said. "That is wrong. That has to change."
In his report, Cmdr. Griffith said Mr. Ennis lied to him during the investigation, which the police commander considered to be serious misconduct and perjury.
The report states that Mr. Ennis defended himself by saying complaints were made against him because of his "aggressive style" of management and because he was caught up in a "witch hunt."
"He said that when you start an investigation like this, people who don't want to be managed or who want to do things their own way, when you manage for results, people get mad and it turns into a witch hunt," Cmdr. Griffith said in the report.
The investigation began Sept. 11, 2000, when Mr. Coard asked Cmdr. Griffith to investigate several complaints from human services managers about Mr. Ennis' conduct. Cmdr. Griffith said his preliminary investigation found merit to complaints that a pattern of misconduct and abusive behavior by Mr. Ennis created a hostile work environment.
Mr. Coard was briefed about the preliminary findings and forwarded them to Chief Ramsey, who directed Mr. Coard to conduct a full investigation.
The investigation found that Mr. Ennis was vindictive and retaliated against employees, made personal attacks against employees and made sexist and derogatory comments.
Cmdr. Griffith found, however, that charges that Mr. Ennis discriminated against women were unfounded.
"While I found no evidence to support that he is discriminating, I sense that in our agency he finds females and civilians to be more vulnerable and he is more comfortable applying his bullying tactics towards them," he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide