The "code of silence."
Mmmmm -- that's juicy -- a fracas in the firehouse.
Bad behavior -- firefighter Todd Schoen allegedly makes death threat targeted at the fire chief -- and Sandusky's bravest circle the pumper trucks. The threat, made in front of a half-dozen or more firefighters, triggers a criminal investigation.
The code of silence kicks in, sort of.
"Let's save Schoen's ass and serve up Chief (Mike) Meinzer," a 30-year firefighter says.
"Hee-hee-hee," 20-year man chuckles. "Chief Meinzer pulled down his pants at a bar. Remember?"
"Hee-hee-hee," newbie firefighter laughs softly, almost like a girl. "Yeah, I heard him talking 'bout how chief pulled down his pants."
"Did you hear Schoen say anything about wanting to shoot Meinzer?" 30-year firefighter asks.
"Nope. I was in the kitchen," another of the city's finest says. "I heard him talking about Meinzer mooning everyone in the bar though."
"Me too. Me too," yet another on-the-clock firefighter says. "I didn't hear the part about shooting chief, though. I was scrubbing my scuba."
The code of silence meeting lasted hours. They all agreed about Meinzer mooning; they just weren't sure whether they ought to drag the princess through the mud.
There are rules. Protocols.
And she's hot.
When the serious debate finally ended they'd reached a consensus: Shut up about Schoen shooting, and remember to talk about Meinzer mooning.
See, that's how it all works.
"As far as I'm concerned the investigation is over and ... uh ... I do not accept the belief that ... ah ... there's a code of silence within the Sandusky Fire Department, as you will," Chief Meinzer responded.
The firefighters could not have been dishonest, Meinzer said, because then he'd have to fire them.
It all shakes out: Schoen accepts an unpaid suspension and a last-chance agreement to keep his job. Meinzer and City Manager Matt Kline decide no further official action is needed.
Everything's cool now as long as Schoen behaves and as long as his supervisors don't resume taunting him when he returns.
Shucks, it was all just fun and games.
The last-chance agreement doesn't mean squat because the firehouse management food chain thought it was more important to yuck it up with the buds than it was to offer professional assistance to someone obviously in distress.
"What will he do next?"
And with the wink of an eye the city hunkered down and said all was hunky dory. No corrective discipline for the leadership team warranted.
Taunting a co-worker in mental distress is just a tool, kind of like water boarding.
Tax payer money well spent.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
If it is broke, don't ignore it.
And grow up, already.