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Review board puts hold on firing of Army police whistleblower

After an Army civilian police officer disclosed that other officers were receiving unearned pay, the whistleblowing cop got a big payback: The Army tried to fire him.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has come to the rescue of Kenneth Delano, persuading the Merit Systems Protection Board to stop his firing for 45 days. During that time, the OSC, which protects federal whistleblowers, will investigate allegations that the Army retaliated against Delano because of his disclosures.

“Based on the totality of facts, OSC concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that retaliation for whistleblowing at least contributed to the Army’s decision to propose Delano’s removal,” the OSC said.

In August 2013, Delano told the Defense Department’s inspector general that two other officers were getting about $25,000 each in inappropriate extra pay that had been approved by managers, according to OSC. The Army stopped that pay, but that wasn’t the end of the story.

In March, Delano’s patrol car developed steering problems after being damaged. Delano’s chief at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia assigned one of the officers whom Delano had blown the whistle on to conduct the investigation into Delano’s car, according to the OSC. Delano objected to what would seem an obvious conflict of interest and asked that another officer investigate. That request was rejected.

The investigating officer said Delano damaged the car and “concluded that Delano’s statements during the investigation lacked candor,” the OSC said. He was later charged with acting discourteously toward a colleague.

Last month, Army officials moved to fire Delano. But now they can’t, at least not yet, because of the OSC’s action.

The OSC would not release the names of the employees who allegedly retaliated against Delano. The Army did not respond to a request for comment.