The case of a Coast Guard lieutenant who purchased firearms allegedly to commit an act of domestic terrorism and also was accused of holding white supremacist views demonstrates that officers and enlisted leaders should be more "intrusive" when it comes to knowing the people they lead, the service's commandant, Adm. Karl Schultz, said March 21.
In his first public statement on the Feb. 15 arrest of acquisitions officer Lt. Christopher Hasson on drug and weapons possession charges, Schultz said leadership should be "very alert and aware in our workplace," and the Coast Guard must be more proactive in promoting diversity across its ranks.
"People can have a work life and an outside-work life. It heightens all our awareness about keeping our senses, being intrusive leaders," Schultz said.
Hasson, who worked at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., was arrested in Maryland on charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and possession of Tramadol, a Schedule IV pain medication to which he was allegedly addicted.
But according to court documents, the 49-year-old also identified as a white nationalist who hoped to attack people and maintained a list of journalists, Democratic lawmakers and judges. He was, court documents, say, "bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect government conduct."
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The case comes as the Coast Guard plans to launch a major effort to recruit and retain more women and minorities. The service, which is 85 percent male and 80 percent Caucasian, "doesn't look as representative of our nation as it should be," Schultz admitted.
During a speech on the state of the Coast Guard at the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach, California, the admiral said the service will introduce a policy designed to better support women who need to take maternity, caregiver or convalescent leave; launch a study on minority retention; and review its weight standards and tattoo policies as part of an overall effort to recruit and retain quality personnel.
"We have to continue to lean in. We've got to make sure we are setting all people who want to serve up for success," he said.
Schultz said the Coast Guard is looking for opportunities to promote women and minorities to higher ranks and attract a more diverse recruiting pool, and should not be measured by the views of an alleged criminal.
"I would say, judge us on the fiber of our character. We are an organization that is embraced by the nation. We saw some of that in the shutdown," he said.