A Bradenton police sergeant has been disciplined and ordered to undergo training after an internal affairs investigation concluded he unfairly evaluated a female officer and was creating a toxic work environment for his subordinates.
Sgt. James Kaull, a 16-year veteran, was described as talking down to or harshly, belittling and micromanaging his subordinates, but that they would be treated better “if you stroke his ego, as other female officers have done,” an internal affairs report states.
Kaul had three violations of the department’s general orders sustained against him as a result of the investigation. According to a memo dated June 14, Kaull was suspended for 24 hours without pay, referred to counseling and ordered to undergo training at the discretion of Police Chief Melanie Bevan.
Kaull’s role as a supervisor first came into question on Dec. 5, when during an annual evaluation he gave a female officer an unacceptable ranking in seven of the 14 categories, according to the report. When Kaull’s captain received the evaluation, he was concerned because Kraull had never documented any deficiencies in the officer’s performance and he felt it lacked objectivity in comparison to his other evaluations.
Kaull’s lieutenant and immediate supervisor disagreed with the evaluation when approached by the captain, stating that the female officer “was one of his best officers.”
The officer being evaluated was reluctant when first approached by the two supervisors regarding Kaull, but she explained that other than being counseled on her decision-making, none of the other deficiencies noted in the evaluation had been brought to her attention. She disagreed with the evaluation and felt she was a competent officer, she said in a later interview with internal affairs.
Kaull was asked to review the officer’s evaluation and resubmit it. When he resubmitted the evaluation the next day, six of the seven unacceptable rankings he had given the officer were changed to acceptable but the narrative in each of those sections had not changed significantly.
Two days later Kaull was placed on paid-leave as internal affairs began to investigate the concerns raised by his supervisors.
“Sgt. Kaull has a way of talking down to people and kind of belittling whenever he’s correcting them,” the officer told internal affairs, according to a transcript of the interview.
The officer said she had been warned about Kaull and his harsh way of speaking or talking down to subordinates before she was transferred to a new shift under his command. Multiple people, female and male, had told her that “in order to get along with him, you throw him some flattery as female and basically get in good with him.”
She had witnessed an example of this during her own training, when the female officer training her was treated differently by Kaull after she had dinner with him, she explained.
When questioned by internal affairs about whether he takes it easier on female officers who flatter him, Kaull said he considered that offensive.