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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

Guest Column The Art of the Cull

Oct 28, 2020 12:46PM ● By G. Gregory Tooker
In recent years, we have witnessed many examples of poor job placement and the disappointing results such decisions produce, especially in the public sector. Two glaring cases in point exist in youth services and law enforcement. Your writer offers some insights and possible solutions based upon personal experience.
The Boys Scouts of America has been a very popular organization, helping to shape the lives of many political leaders, scientists, artists and authors, among others. Scouting has helped give direction to millions of young men, equipping them with practical knowledge and experience that will serve them all through life.  BSA has encouraged constructive communication among youth across the planet, especially during World Jamboree events.
I entered Scouting as a Cub Scout in 1947, part of a pack in Haverhill. All of my pack members lived in what was then wide-open countryside on the New Hampshire border, a perfect place to practice the skills I was learning with fellow Cubs in my den.  At age 11, I transitioned into BSA Troop 13 in Lone Tree Council, a big step that meant real hikes, mountain climbing and overnight camping. Mr. Jim Page was our Scoutmaster, an officer who served in the U.S. Navy during WWII in the Pacific theater and one of the finest men I have ever met.
In 1952, my dad, an Eagle Scout himself, was transferred by his employer and I ended up in Natick where I joined Troop 1 led by Mr. Herb Adams, another outstanding role model.  Since I had at that point achieved the rank of Star Scout, I was fortunate to be considered for and then elected Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 1 soon after my arrival.  It sure did help me acclimate to my new town and to form new friendships. 
Both Scoutmasters Page and Adams represented some of the best America had to offer at the time.  Both were men of faith, veterans and upstanding citizens. Although the selection process for such a leadership position was unknown to me at the time, it really did function efficiently in their cases. Not so anymore, however, judging by the numbers of child abuse claims being filed against scout leaders. Now, the Boy Scouts of America are about to be deposited in history’s dust bin, all because of a few bad actors who somehow slipped in the door unnoticed. We left the flock unprotected.
Later in life when I served as a risk management consultant to the public sector, I worked closely with the National League of Cities and law enforcement professional organizations, including the International Chiefs of Police and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in Washington, DC. We monitored incidents that resulted in claims and litigation filed against police departments throughout the U.S., looking for those agencies with a greater than expected frequency of claims alleging excessive force and other abuses.
Our country is presently embroiled in a wave of litigation stemming from alleged police negligence. Today’s high speed communication broadcasts these incidents worldwide in a matter of seconds, giving the impression they are growing exponentially. But these incidents were happening a generation ago; they just weren’t getting as much publicity. What was occurring then and is evident now is that a disproportionate number of claims and lawsuits are popping up in certain agencies and communities.
The two examples outlined above demonstrate a failing, I believe, in the screening, selection, education and monitoring of individuals serving in sensitive public service roles. There are other examples to be sure but these two are under intense public scrutiny at the moment. Dismantling the Boy Scouts and “defunding” police departments will not cure the problem. If we merely jettison or “defund” organizations because they potentially expose persons to abuse, we will soon discover we have destroyed valuable resources in the process. Let the bath water sit for a moment while we contemplate the depth of the problem and its potential solutions. 
Best practices models with which to cull applicants not suitable, as well as questionable persons currently in a position to do harm, are essential to a cure.  Let’s do the hard work required to craft permanent solutions that will eliminate our current systems’ weaknesses.

Mr. Tooker is a Wrentham resident.