18 May 2011, 11:00 h, Sheraton Hotel, Sofia
On 18 May 2011, at 11:00 h, at the Sheraton Hotel, in 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 was entitled “The Essentials for Addressing Corruption”.
According to Chief Vernon, there were four main steps for fighting corruption – instruction, reproof, behaviour correction and most importantly – training and restoration. The first step included teaching corruption’s negative results and corruption free benefits, providing international corruption data and even telling anti-corruption success stories. The second one included a clear corruption definition, giving examples of corruption and testing to ensure understanding. The third step – correction – took place through a character development program, rewarding actions of integrity, developing a reasonable amnesty policy and disciplining continuing violations of standards. The fourth step was preparing for future struggle, growth, restoration and giving hope.
Chief Vernon paid attention to the risks of corruption and the danger of expressed indifference – he stated that corruption ruined trust in public and private institutions and might lead to anarchy, tyranny, poverty and/or terrorism. This scenario had nothing to do with the situation in a democratic republic, which “is a commonwealth of freemen who give their united consent to be governed by their peers.” Corruption also ruined mutual trust, which was a founding principle of successful governance. Moreover it had negative impact on market economy development and foreign investment attraction. Chief Vernon added that corruption also leaded 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 had lost some ground in Transparency International’s Corruption Rankings.
Chief Robert Vernon ended his lecture by pointing out that character development was absolutely essential for fighting corruption. He gave some valuable advice to cope with the challenges we were facing today. He maintained 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.”