“THE ESSENTIALS FOR ADDRESSING CORRUPTION” Keynote Speech by Robert L. Vernon Assistant Chief (ret.) of the Los Angeles Police Department

(May 18th, 11:00, Sheraton Hotel Sofia)

The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria and the Embassy of the United States of America in Bulgaria organized a keynote speech of the Assistant Chief (ret.) of the Los Angeles Police Department Robert L. Vernon. The speech entitled “The Essentials for Addressing Corruption” took place on May 18th at 11:00 AM at the Sheraton Hotel, Sofia.

Chief Robert Vernon began his lecture by focusing on the good organizational life cycle, i.e. identifying principles as well as sharing principle development procedures. He also said that when an optimal organization level is reached it’s necessary to avoid paying too much attention on the procedures. He thinks that in such cases the principles must not be neglected because the procedures become meaningless. Chief Vernon expressed his view that both committing a crime and having corruption practices need three elements. The first one needs a criminal, a victim and a crime scene and the second one needs not only corrupted leadership but organizational apathy and public tolerance as well. There will be no corruption if these three elements don’t exist.

According to Chief Vernon there are four main steps for fighting corruption – instruction, reproof, behaviour correction and most important – training and restoration. The first step includes teaching corruption’s negative results and corruption free benefits, providing international corruption data and even telling anti-corruption successstories. The second one includes clear corruption definition, giving examples of corruption and test to ensure understanding. The third step – correction – takes place through character development program, reward actions of integrity, develop reasonable amnesty policy and disciplinecontinuing violations of standards. The fourth step expresses in preparing for future struggle, growth, restoration, and even giving hope.

Chief Vernon paid attention to the risks of corruption and the danger of expressed indifference – corruption ruins the trust in public and private institutions and may lead to anarchy, tyranny, poverty and/or terrorism. This scenario has nothing to do with the situation in a democratic republic, which “is a commonwealth of freemen who give their united consentto be governed by their peers.” Corruption also ruins mutual trust, which is a founding principle of successful governance. Moreover it has negative impact on market economy development and foreign investment attraction. Chief Vernon added that corruption also leads to the creation of closed systems and lack of accountability. He gave Liberia as a positive example for fighting corruption in recent years, but pointed out that both Bulgaria and the USA have lost some ground in the Transparency International’s Corruption Rankings.

Chief Robert Vernon ended his lecture by pointing out that character development is absolutely essential for fighting corruption. He gave some valuable advice to cope with the challenges we are facing today. He said that “societies are changed (if they are changed at all) by people who believe in something, care about something or are willing to take a stand for something.”

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