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Plan to publish pics of uniform violators nixed

Feb. 10, 2013 - 11:10AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 10, 2013 - 11:10AM  |  
A photo of a female officer at Maxwell Air Force Base was posted with a commentary about using peer pressure to improve standards at the base. The alleged violations: Hair coming down too far on her collar and putting her hands in her pockets. The commentary has since been moved off the site, the photo removed and revised to say photographers would stage pictures of violations.
A photo of a female officer at Maxwell Air Force Base was posted with a commentary about using peer pressure to improve standards at the base. The alleged violations: Hair coming down too far on her collar and putting her hands in her pockets. The commentary has since been moved off the site, the photo removed and revised to say photographers would stage pictures of violations. ()
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One base's push to use peer pressure by singling out airmen for uniform violations lasted just a few days before deciding to use staged photos instead of pictures of actual airmen on base.

The Plans Office at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., posted a commentary Feb. 1 stating base photographers would take pictures of airmen violating standards on base and post them in the base newspaper, the Dispatch. The commentary also encouraged readers to write in and detail the uniform violations.

"This is quite simply using the power of peer pressure to educate all of Team Maxwell-Gunter on the importance of standards," wrote Jeff Bergdolt of the 42nd Air Base Wing in the original Feb. 1 commentary. Posted with the commentary was a picture of a female officer whose hair reached below her collar and was walking with hands in her pockets.

Days after the column was posted, however, it was updated to say that photographs would be staged to show examples of violations seen around the installation, instead of actual photographs of the violators.

"Base leadership wanted to focus on violations, not violators," Maxwell spokesman Phil Berube said.

In the column, Bergdolt wrote the base earned very low marks for standards during its 2011 unit compliance inspection, focusing on examples such as rolled-up sleeves, hands in pockets and walking while using a cellphone "showed an apparent lack of regard for Air Force standards."

"Would you have confidence in the airworthiness of a commercial airliner if you saw peeling paint or torn seats or unfastened rivets? … In the same respect, the American public, inspector general or any other airman might wonder how a base is addressing large issues when they observe an apparent disregard for ‘small' things," Bergdolt wrote.

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