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    Thursday, July 18, 2024

    Coast Guard Academy removes department head after bullying investigation

    The U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Tuesday, May 17, 2016. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    New London — The Coast Guard Academy has removed Capt. Kevin Lopes as head of the management department after an investigation found that he bullied a subordinate in early 2018.

    Lopes was removed as the head of the management department, which functions much like a business school at a traditional college, on April 24 "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to effectively lead the department," academy spokesman David Santos said by email recently. Lopes' removal "is the product of no single incident," he added.

    Santos would not comment on the number of instances of bullying involving Lopes.

    "In order to protect their privacy, we typically do not provide details concerning allegations or any related administrative actions that may be taken with respect to cadets, staff or faculty members," Santos said.

    Lopes still is teaching at the academy because "he continues to be a productive member of the permanent commissioned teaching staff," Santos said.

    Lopes did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on Wednesday.

    The Coast Guard's Office of the Deputy Commandant for Mission Support received a report on Jan. 30 of bullying involving Lopes and initiated an investigation, Santos said. That same month, staff at the academy underwent mandatory training for dealing with bullying and hazing.

    The investigation, which began on Feb. 27 and was concluded by March 26, found Lopes guilty of bullying, Santos said. The academy received the results of the investigation in late April.

    Hazing and bullying are not defined as criminal offenses under the Military Code of Justice, but commands have a variety of ways they can deal with such issues. Responses can range from counseling to administrative discharge proceedings.

    After reviewing the investigation, Superintendent Rear Adm. James Rendon approved a request from Dean of Academics Kurt Colella to remove Lopes as head of the department.

    "Every member of the academy community must be responsible for cultivating a culture of respect and fostering a positive workplace climate," Rendon said in a statement. "I am personally committed to maintaining a work environment that reinforces the Coast Guard's core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty."

    Lopes, a 1992 academy graduate, served as chief of the Coast Guard's financial policy division from 2010 to 2013, and as the response department head for Sector New Orleans from 2008 to 2010, among other assignments, according to his staff page on the academy's website.

    On or about Feb. 7, 2018, he was interviewed by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which accredits business schools including the academy's management department, about leadership development at the Coast Guard Academy. In a video, which originally was published on May 18 on YouTube, Lopes discusses various leadership development programs at the academy.

    "We feel like we're making good on our promise to the American public and to the Coast Guard that we're going to be a wellspring of leadership, of leaders of character, for the Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security and for the United States," he says in the video.


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