But they probably still get some stern finger-wagging

Here’s what generally happens when a private-sector employee commits gross incompetence at work: He or she is fired, given a final paycheck, and goes away. For good. Here’s what happens all too often when a county employee commits gross incompetence at work: He or she is recommended for firing or suspension. Then, after an appeal before the Civil Service Commission, the disciplinary action is overturned and the employee returns to work, incompetence forgotten. According to a Daily News review, the commission overturned or reduced discipline recommended by various county departments in nearly half of all cases between 2001 and 2004. That’s hundreds of people whose bosses consider them incompetent, yet remain on the public payroll. What is most disturbing is the number of sheriff’s deputies whose discipline has been reduced. For example, nearly one-third of the discharges were reversed in 2003. The reversals concern county Inspector General Michael Gennaco, who says it’s possible that officers who have abused the public are still on the street.

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Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.