An update from the Troopers Board of Directors - 1/22/2021
Note: The Troopers shared this message with members and staff on Thursday, and with as many alumni as we can reach earlier today. Now we share it with everyone.
The Troopers Board of Directors owes you an apology.
We, the members of the Board, this week posted a response to recent allegations about the corps’ handling of complaints submitted by members from 2017 to 2019 concerning their health and safety. Copies of the complaints were posted on a website administered by a group named Marching Arts Access Safety and Inclusion Network. In addition to posting the complaints, the group also remarked that it had concluded the Troopers had taken no action on them, would take no action, and that it has no confidence the Troopers administration values the welfare of its members.
Our response was posted on the Troopers website, and on the corps’ Facebook page.
That response included our expression of concern for the reputation of the Troopers and our willingness to defend it. There are times to rise to the defense of the corps, but this was not one of them. This was a time to listen, to put the well-being of each individual Trooper first. We were wrong to respond to a matter concerning the welfare of corps members with defensiveness, and for that, we offer you our apology. The responsibility for every aspect of Troopers life ultimately rests with us, the members of the Board of Directors. We are resolved to do better, to live up to the H in HLD, when we are asked to account for ourselves.
What, then, is to be done? Last fall the advocacy group provided to the corps administration six reports it says it received during August and September 2020 from Troopers marching members who were active during the 2017-19 seasons. The complaints ranged from the corps' accommodation of dietary needs, to the competence of the corps director and staff, to its handling of a report of sexual assault. The allegation on the table is that the Troopers administration had not looked into any of the concerns expressed by the members.
This is, rightfully, a serious allegation, and the advocacy group is partly correct. The Troopers did not provide the advocacy group with a point-by-point report of findings into each complaint posted by the advocacy group. What also is true, however, is that the corps administration did conduct investigations into the complaints at the time they were made. DCI and its member corps have an online system for members to submit complaints, either anonymously or with their name attached. Every complaint automatically goes to three different people: the Troopers Board president, the executive director, and an external lawyer, whose job is to find the truth to the best of their ability based on the information available at the time. If a person included their name on a complaint, they were contacted by DCI. And for each complaint submitted through this system, a report was forwarded to the Troopers Board and to DCI.
All of which is to say, the Troopers administration responded to these situations in the moment. What the Troopers did not do was re-conduct, for the benefit of the advocacy group, investigations that already had been concluded a year or more earlier. The advocacy group may have the right intentions, but it has the facts wrong: It claims the Troopers never investigated these complaints. This is simply not the case.
You’re saying: Prove it. Show us you followed through.
Here’s the thing: Troopers policy, DCI confidentiality rules, our respect for the confidences people have placed in us when providing information -- and even the law in some circumstances -- forbid us to do so, at least with the amount of detail that those who were not directly involved may want. For example, we can’t tell anyone when or if law enforcement is contacted. We can’t divulge whether anyone has been disciplined. We can’t provide the reasons why a staff member’s contract is terminated.
This is an unsatisfying answer, yet it is where we are. The Troopers risk significant legal ramifications if we release details, findings, reasoning, or conclusions of whistleblower complaints. We can’t even publish copies of the same reports already posted on the advocacy-group website.
Where does that leave us? All we can do is look you in the eye and say each complaint posted by the advocacy group has been investigated in a methodical, systematic way. We can say what was found by investigation did not always confirm the claims made in the complaint. And we can say the resulting actions have been based on what each investigation found.
Beyond that, we can encourage our members of the past, present, and future, to reach out to us with questions. Concerns. Suggestions. Ideas. Reports of misconduct. Anything. We will receive them openly and seriously, without judgment or repercussion. We’ll make mistakes - we’re human after all, but we will always do the best we can.
Even under the best conditions and with the best people, the high standards, the relentless intensity and bananas logistics of drum-corps life create conditions that tempt failure and disappointment. But this is no reason to settle for anything less than the best we can be; indeed it is the thrill of drum corps to set the bar ridiculously high and strive to clear it. It is our resolve to do our best to continue this important and life changing activity for decades to come. What we need from you are your ideas, volunteerism, positive engagement, mentorship, your expertise, your patience, and your passion. We have to do this together, each of us with understanding for the other, if we are to succeed in all we aspire to be.
Toward that end, we are committed to a full review of our policies and procedures as we strive to make the Troopers a better environment for all participants. We encourage you to remain a part of the conversation. You can expect, in the near future, communications and opportunities to engage with us.
For access to our online whistleblower form, and to read our staff and member policy manuals visit: www.troopersdrumcorps.org/membersafety