Battalion Chief Kevin Sloan told The Washington Times’ Andrea Noble that Chief Kenneth Ellerbe’s actions are “a classic example of workplace bullying”. Chief Sloan says that he was transferred from operations to the logistics division a week ago, less than four hours after finding Lt. Henry Dent not guilty on charges related to the beer Chief Ellerbe found in a refrigerator at the quarters of Engine 9 last year.
Kevin Sloan said in an article posted this evening on the paper’s website, “It’s not ethical, it’s not moral. It’s retaliatory action.”
Chief Sloan’s case has similarities to the demotion of Battalion Chief Richard Sterne in April after Sterne reduced the penalties against two other firefighters connected to the beer incident.
According to Noble, while Chief Sterne was notified his demotion was directly related to his handling of the disciplinary, Chief Sloan was not given an explanation for his sudden transfer.
As part of Chief Sloan’s findings, he determined that Lt. Dent was not present at the fire station when the beer was delivered, so he could not be held accountable for accepting a gift. He also ruled that when Lt. Dent was notified by another firefighter that there was still beer in the station refrigerator, he told the firefighter to get rid of it but did not have enough time to check to ensure the order was followed through before Chief Ellerbe arrived.
Chief Sloan said the investigation was unusual and that evidence in the case went missing. In one instance, when he requested copies of taped interviews with witnesses the administration simply sent him paper photocopies of CDs, rather than the CDs themselves.
“For the rank and file, this takes away a fair, equitable disciplinary trial for the members,” Chief Sloan said.
According to the article department spokesman Lon Walls refused to comment because the case is a personnel matter, but did say Chief Ellerbe has the final authority in the disciplinary process.