MORALE LOW AT FT.
DIX IN WAKE OF HARASSMENT
It's hard to imagine in this day and age, a supervisor using the racial epithet "boy" on a African-American Department of Defense (D.O.D.) police officer at Ft. Dix, N.J., but that's what allegedly happened to Officer Glen Perry, who's filed an EEOC complaint against acting Maj. Bonnie G. Morris.
Perry, a highly-respected policeman who holds a pilot's license for rotary and small fixed-wing aircraft, tells MilitaryCorruption.com the derogatory term was "just one of a series of incidents" in recent years that constitute what he calls, "a pattern of harassment" against himself.
Ranked second in "seniority" on the 54-member D.O.D. Police Force at Ft. Dix, Perry has been passed over for promotion to sergeant because - according to Morris, in a sworn deposition we have obtained, "he's not ready" and "doesn't have the maturity" to wear sergeant's stripes.
A majority of his fellow officers disagree. Those we've spoken to - who've asked their identities not be revealed for obvious reasons - feel Morris has "abused her position of authority" and does not possess the proper temperament to command or lead. They say morale is low in their department at Ft. Dix because "Morris is out-of-control."
Criticism of the "at-times imperious" Morris is not confined to just the D.O.D. ranks. We spoke to a senior Army officer on Ft. Dix who has worked closely with the government cops there and has nothing good to say about the female supervisor.
"She's very arrogant and disrespectful, with no people skills whatsoever," he said. "There seems to be a vendetta going on, where Morris takes every opportunity to harass Glen Perry. Her leadership ability is badly lacking. And her behavior is no secret on this installation."
A CLIMATE OF "FEAR" AT FT. DIX D.O.D. POLICE DEPT.
Fear of what could happen to them at her hands has caused D.O.D. officers to speak to us only on the condition of anonymity. They say Morris is "protected" by bosses who "look the other way."
[Later on in this article, prepared after a seven month investigation both on Ft. Dix and its environs - familiar territory to MCC - you will read a laundry list of incidents involving the female supervisor, any one of which could have ended a male D.O.D. cop's career. But somehow, acting-Maj. Morris, just keeps on going, no matter what, with her latest promotion coming just a few weeks ago, thanks to longtime friend, Public Safety Director Stephen Melly. In her sworn deposition, Morris acknowledged knowing Melly for 20-plus years.
While rumors of some sort of relationship between the two have floated around Ft. Dix for some time, MilitaryCorruption.com wants to emphasize we have no proof of any intimate association and do not want to go there. What we are concerned about is not gossip or perceptions, but whether or not Melly showed undue favoritism to his friend when it came to metting out discipline.]
Perry is described by many of his fellow officers as being a "consummate professional," willing to "go the extra mile" to help another. "He does his work to the highest standard," says a fellow patrolman, "and I admire him for keeping his cool, despite the way he has been treated on this department."
QUOTES FROM THE MORRIS DEPOSITION
A careful study of various depositions MilitaryCorruption.com
has obtained shows even Morris hard-pressed to disparage Perry in a
sworn statement. Below is an excerpt of Morris' testimony on April
19, 2005 as she was questioned by Perry's attorney, Mike Daily:
ONE INCIDENT AFTER THE OTHER
The first time now acting Maj., then-Lt. Morris was in trouble in the past six years was in 1999 when she got into a physical altercation with former DOD Police Sgt. "Rocky" Giordano in a corridor at police headquarters.
"They were having a heated conversation when it erupted into violence," a source told MilitaryCorruption.com. "Angry words were exchanged and suddenly Morris cuffed Giordano behind the head and jumped on his back. He then turned around and smacked her in the mouth with his fist."
Two sergeants, Eddie Hayes and Nate Clark, saw the dispute erupt while watching in-house TV monitors and rushed to break up the brawl. The result was Giordano left the force not long after the fracas, but Morris stayed on.
The next incident resulted in a 14-day suspension for Morris after she failed to follow proper procedure "clearing" a loaded shotgun into a barrel at DOD police headquarters.
The ensuing blast endangered the lives of several officers nearby, but thankfully no one was injured in the serious screw-up. Morris was counseled and docked two week's pay, but again, remained on the force.
MORRIS ALLEGEDLY DRUNK AND BELLIGERENT
Perhaps the most serious incident of all occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. 21, 2001.
Then-DOD Officer Eric Hollinger was on patrol when he got a tip that a vehicle with govt. plates was parked outside Kelly's Bar, a favorite hangout in nearby Wrightstown, N.J.
Let's quote from Hollinger's police report on DA Form 2823, which we obtained during our investigation.
"I proceeded to investigate and noticed a red in color Ford pickup truck with government plate [deleted by MCC] parked and unattended. Approximately three minutes later, Lt. Morris came to my vehicle and said 'hello.' I said 'hello' back and asked her what she was doing there.
"I noticed Lt. Morris had a VERY STRONG odor of an unknown intoxicating beverage emanating from her person and that her speech was mumbled, slurred and thick tongued. I also noticed Lt. Morris' eyes to be EXTREMELY BLOODSHOT and pinkish/red in color. I observed Lt. Morris staggering and needing support to walk . . . she told me to 'get back to work.'
"I observed Lt. Morris enter her vehicle, [description deleted by MCC] get behind the steering wheel and start it up. I then approached the driver side window and asked Lt. Morris to step out so as not to embarrass her in front of her friends. I advised Lt. Morris that I thought she had too much to drink and that she should not drive. Lt. Morris immediately got defensive stating: 'I only have to drive 10 miles. I will be fine.'"
Hollinger, according to the official report, then said: "I cannot let you drive." At which point Morris reportedly stated: 'YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GETTING YOURSELF IN FOR.' which the DOD patrolman said he "took as a threat."
"I then asked her again and pleaded with her not to drive," Hollinger wrote. "I told her I'd even go to HQ to get a few hours of annual leave and drive her home myself."
"DO NOT GO THERE!" Morris reportedly snarled.
"I cannot let you drive your vehicle," Officer Hollinger stated in his report. He got this response: "YOU DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE DEALING WITH. I WILL HAVE YOUR JOB!"
Hollinger said he informed Morris he was prepared to do what he had to to "protect her passengers and herself from hurting or killing anyone." Again Hollinger pleaded with the belligerent lieutenant to come to reason.
ME THE SGT. OUT HERE. I'M GONNA MAKE YOUR LIFE A LIVING HELL!"
The Form 2823 relates how the situation then deteriorated further.
Hollinger wrote he positioned his police unit "in front of Lt. Morris' vehicle so she could not drive. Lt. Morris then ". . . began to accelerate towards my unit. I had to put my unit in drive to get out of the way. If not, she would have struck my police vehicle.
"I activated my overhead lights and attempted to stop her, however she came around the turn in the lot at Kelly's and almost struck my police unit again. At this time, I notified Central (police headquarters) to call the NJ State Police to stop her vehicle."
According to the official report, Lt. Morris "exited Kelly's lot, drove past Illusions and proceeded on Sailors Pond Road, DRIVING WITH NO HEADLIGHTS ON."
Morris was stopped by a New Jersey State Police officer (Healy) and soon DOD Lt. Charles T. Hos arrived on the scene. The trooper told both Hollinger and Lt. Hos that Morris appeared to be "intoxicated" and "should not be driving" a motor vehicle. He also informed his lieutenant that the subject stopped was a DOD police lieutenant.
According to Officer Hollinger's report, Lt. Hos gave Morris "a courtesy" and allowed her to call her husband on a cell phone to come and pick her up. However, even this favor wasn't apparently enough for the allegedly mean-tempered Morris. "Although NJSP and Lt. Hos advised Lt. Morris NOT to operate her vehicle, at 0407 hours when her husband arrived, she drove her vehicle into the municipal complex in Wrightstown. She and her passengers then entered her husband's vehicle and departed."
YET ANOTHER ALTERCATION WITH A MALE OFFICER
In August of 2002, Morris reportedly got into another dispute with a fellow officer. A witness to the altercation tells us that Officer Elvery Broome was obtaining his hand gun from then-Lt. Morris prior to going on duty. Weapons are locked up at the police station and all officers must sign them in and out as they start and complete their duty shifts.
On this particular occasion, Morris is said to have dropped the weapon on the floor, at which time Broome asked her for another.
"She refused to give him one, so he asked her if he could go out to the range and fire the dropped weapon to test the sites. That was refused. Soon the discussion became very heated," our source said.
Our witness heard Broome shout: "I'm not putting up with this!" Morris allegedly screamed: "Let's take this outside, you motherf----r!" Morris is said to have slammed a door which somehow caught Broome's hand. At that time, other officers arrived and physically broke up the melee.
Once again Morris had been in a verbal and physical altercation with a fellow officer and once again she was retained on the force. So was Broome, now an Inspector. Another lieutenant was on the scene, as were two other officers. We want to point out that Broome is NOT a source for this story, and we did not talk to him to ensure he would not be the subject of retaliation once this incident was revealed. If any such action is taken against the respected cop, we can assure those responsible there will be very serious consequences for them as a result. You have been warned.
"BOY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?"
On November 29, 2003, Officer Glen Perry was parked in a marked patrol car just off the road at Fort Dix and Juliustown Road. Lt. Morris was traveling by and noticed the police unit so drove up parallel to the vehicle, her driver's side window even with the officer's.
At that instant, Officer Perry says he was talking into his cell phone and couldn't immediately respond. What happened next is in dispute.
In her deposition, Morris claims she stopped to check out the unit because she was concerned the officer might have been "in distress" or there was a problem. The DOD Lt. claims she asked Perry is he was okay but "he ignored my question."
Perry's version of events is that he couldn't respond right away because of the cell phone but, as he started to reply to his supervisor, he heard Morris say: "Boy, what are you doing here?" He took the comment to be a racial slur, but did not complain to Morris at that moment. He told MCC he "did not want to escalate any potential for trouble." Lt. Morris soon drove away.
In her deposition she claimed Perry made some "odd movements" which she couldn't define when questioned. "I felt threatened for my kid's safety and that's when I decided to leave the area," she stated. [Lt. Morris was off-duty at the time and transporting her children in her vehicle.]
Strangely enough, Officer Perry was never "written up," afterwards or disciplined and punished for any alleged offense. In fact, Perry's work records and ratings all show him to be a good cop with a clean record. We can only wonder why Morris, if she felt "threatened" didn't follow up on her allegations as expressed in her sworn deposition.
We are reproducing below more extracts from the Morris deposition to show the reader the then-Lt's. attitude toward use of a widely-perceived racial epithet like "boy" against an African-American police officer.
The questioner again is Perry attorney, Mike Daily:
Duh! No further comment needed.
OTHER FORMS OF HARASSMENT
Officer Perry told MilitaryCorruption.com he had "on several occasions" heard Morris refer to men of color as "dumb, stupid, ignorant" and "a waste."
On July 2, 2003, Perry said he was told by Morris to report to the Director's office, but when he arrived, was told there that his presence had not been requested at all.
One month later, Perry alleges in court papers that Morris directed him to leave his post "unmanned without proper relief."
The patrol officer alleges that on Nov. 14, 2003 he was falsely accused of being "AWOL" when he had already secured permission to be absent by the duty Lt. Loydell Beatty. The truth of the matter is, Beatty had inadvertently forgotten to note the request on his paperwork and that Perry had gone through proper channels.
On January 27, 2004 Perry tells us that Morris ordered him to take a random drug test despite the fact he had already taken and passed the test the previous day! When he explained this to Lt. Morris, Perry says she screamed at him: "I want verification!" and hung up the telephone.
Whenever there's smoke, there's usually fire, and we think officer Glen Perry's contention he has been discriminated against is supported by a preponderance of evidence, circumstantial though it may be.
We were not present when, as Perry says, Morris pulled up beside his parked police car at Ft. Dix and allegedly snapped: "Boy, what are you doing here?" After all, it's his word against hers.
But as we pointed out in our investigative article when we quoted the female supervisor's own words about such well-known racial slurs - showing at the very least her ignorance and insensitivity to such language in normal conversation - MCC believes it is more likely than not that Morris may have uttered such an ugly epithet.
What male or other female officer, involved in so many fights with colleagues; suspended for not following guidelines by discharging a shotgun endangering those around her; accused of hurling racial slurs; stopped by police for driving while intoxicated; allegedly harassing a highly-respected minority officer, would be not only retained on the DOD police force but even promoted?
"That was a real slap in the face," one disgruntled DOD officer told us. "When Melly took care of Morris by making her a major. And that happening before the Glen Perry EEOC case had been resolved!"
The unprofessional behavior of Bonnie Morris, in our opinion, is reprehensible. When our editor-in-chief, Maj. Glenn MacDonald, USAR (Ret) politely contacted Morris by phone to ask her for her side of the case, she rudely hung up on him not once but twice! Such insolence and disrespect cannot be tolerated by anyone. We'd like to ask Army commander Col. David McNeill why this woman is still wearing a badge and carrying a gun on Ft. Dix?
As for Stephen Melly, whom we also talked to but got no satisfaction from, he has been clearly "indulgent" of Morris to say the least. We feel he should explain why he thinks she merited a promotion to major in the face of her troubled record. Melly should be investigated and fired if it is found he showed favoritism to a friend instead of setting an example of fairness and justice to his officers as leader of the DOD police.
Robert Litchneger is a particular disappointment to us as he is a retired colonel who did not give his fellow field-grade, a multi-tour combat veteran and "Mustang" officer, Maj. MacDonald, the courtesy of a follow-up reply when we contacted him about Morris. Any hack can play "politics" or "look the other way." That isn't leadership at all. Litchneger owes everyone on Ft. Dix - especially the DOD Police - an apology for his mismanagement of the Morris situation and failure to make Melly accountable for his actions.