What is the right thing to do? Ethics Training Now Available at DOC

By Bryan Bass
RALEIGH -- What is the right thing to do?

At a daylong Ethics in Correction seminar on March 21, Mike Silsbee tried to help attendees answer that question.

Silsbee, a certified instructor who received training in ethics education from the Southwestern Law Enforcement Institute, used videos, models and case studies to assist employees in solving generic ethical dilemmas. Participants were given pocket cards to help them reflect on what they learned at the seminar. "They did well, and I think they were pleased to have the tools to make better ethical decisions," Silsbee said.

During the seminar, Silsbee stressed the importance of ethics. "The media is always looking for a story. You're on the front page if there's the appearance of a scandal, but on page-eight if you're cleared," Silsbee said.

Silsbee said that ethics affect career survival, media coverage, in-house dissention, personal stress and the community's view of the agency. "We're all going to benefit from this (ethics training). Whether it's workplace decision-making or issues in daily life, it's a common thread in everything we do."

Lach Kincaid, inservice training coordinator with the Office Staff Development Training (OSDT) agrees. "If we don't have a strong ethical background, we can go astray."

Ricky Byrd, OSDT training manager, implemented the program agency-wide in DOC. The Division of Prisons has been teaching ethics for the past two years in the division's Ethical Fitness Seminar. While this is the first time Silsbee has conducted ethics training in DOC, it is certainly not the last. Silsbee said he has already received a request from one of the Division of Community Corrections divisions, and he plans to hold another seminar in June. He said OSDT plans to teach it more often in the future.

Attendees at the seminar were from the Divisions of Prisons and Community Corrections, Central Engineering, OSDT and the Department of Justice.

Silsbee said the importance of ethics training is spreading to other agencies in state government and cited that the Office of State Personnel, for example, will soon start offering instruction in ethics for human resource professionals.

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