The resignation of Port Hueneme Police Chief Kathleen Sheehan amid claims of improprieties brings forward the ethical issue: whether or not it was the right thing to do (Martinez 2). Was resignation the most ethical solution to the problem Chief Sheehan was facing? Since there is no knowing the truth until she herself lays it out into the open. One point to consider, though, is if she was not guilty of the allegations thrown at her, why did she give in and sign an agreement with interim City Manager Richard Velthoen? Why did she resign without fuss? Her action tells us that there is a possible existence of guilt as much as there is a possible existence of a pacifist or self-sacrificing nature in her. In sum: was resigning the ethical option?
On the point of view of ethics, in the aspect of guilt, Sheehan resigned because there was a degree of truth in some, if not all, of the allegations. For an individual in such a situation, the most ethical thing to do is resign. Resignation out of guilt may have different motivations. First, resignation may be motivated by the absolution of one’s guilt. In the event of real guilt, Sheehan must have thought that resignation was a form of atonement for the offenses she committed during her service. Second, her resignation was ethical if it could give more happiness to a great number of people. If she stayed she could have hurt more people with her action, then resignation was right. However, if Sheehan was not guilty, her resignation may be motivated either by protecting others or self-interests. In other words, she may have resigned not because of guilt but because she did not want to drag her family or loved ones into her predicament, thereby inconveniencing them. Or, whatever the case may be, she did not want to be caught up in the limits and uncertainties of administrative life more than she already was (29). She may have had enough of the hoopla and wanted peace of mind for herself, if the offer of money (after resignation) was not what motivated her.
If she was guilty, resignation was the right course – but it should not end there. Sheehan would not be pardoned just because she resigned. If she really was guilty, what she should have done was confess to the authorities and answer for them in accordance with the law. If the law requires she goes to jail for a certain period because of her crimes, then she should. If there are other ways through which she can atone for her sins, perhaps like community service and such, then it would have been all right if she took that option too. It would be most ethical to pledge not to repeat the same offenses so as not to inconvenience and hurt other people. Yet if Sheehan was actually innocent, then resignation, for me, is still not the right solution. She signed the agreement without fuss. The moment she signed the agreement and then tendered her resignation, she waived her right to defend herself and prove her innocence. The agreement’s contents made her acknowledge that she did not suffer any form of discrimination or injustices. The fact that she was asked to resign meant that there was coercion or unfairness in some way. That was not ethical, if she was innocent, because she did not fight for the truth and defend herself. Rather than resign silently, she should have fought for the truth.
In my view, whether guilty or not, Sheehan should not have resigned. Guilt should be cured through legal and moral means. On one hand, her innocence should be proven. By resigning, whatever is the truth, she let injustice take over. Injustice is not the right option.
Martinez, Arlene. “Port Hueneme Police Chief Resigns Amid Alleged Improprieties.” Ventura Country Star 11 December 2012: 2A. Print.