HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Investigators looking into a cheating scandal at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy found that instructors provided test answers to cadets, the state inspector general said in a report released Friday.
The 47-page report suggested that the practice had become commonplace, and listed at least six instructors who said they had provided answers to cadets in advance for one reason or another. Several others said they took the test with them into test-prep sessions.
Meanwhile, in some cases, troopers or cadets from more senior classes provided answers directly to students, cadets told investigators. Test content did not change, sometimes for years.
The state police field guide says members should not “furnish” test answers, but the academy lacked additional guidelines or an instructors’ manual that outlined what type of information could be provided to cadets in advance, the report said.
Inspector General Bruce Beemer blamed “some longstanding practices within the academy” for the problems.
Dozens of cadets from the academy’s 144th class – which began in September 2015 and was due to graduate in March 2016 – were dismissed or resigned. No other instructor, cadet or trooper was similarly punished, State Police Commissioner Tyree Blocker said.
Blocker said the academy’s “culture of complacency” that led to the scandal was a recent phenomenon. Asked why only cadets from that class were dismissed when they did not create that culture, Blocker said that internal affairs investigators had exhausted every viable lead in their probe and that its reach to other cadet classes was limited.
With about 6,000 uniformed and civilian personnel, the Pennsylvania State Police is one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies.
The state police began an internal investigation after an academy staff member found a folded, handwritten piece of paper in a hallway in December 2015 that was determined to be a cheat sheet containing 20 answers on a traffic law test.
The state police disclosed their investigation a year ago and requested the inspector general’s investigation.
Nearly all members of the 144th class who were interviewed – 51 of 57 – said instructors, troopers or academy staff provided test answers or study guides that mirrored a test. Nearly all said prior classes received similar information.
Several cadets told investigators “that during test review sessions, instructors provided actual or direct test answers” for upcoming tests on traffic law, stun guns and medical response, the report said.
“It got to the point we didn’t need to study. We knew that we would be given what we needed to know,” a cadet told investigators. Another cadet said cadets in the prior class had told them, “this is how it would be.”
One member of an earlier class told police internal affairs investigators that an instructor “read the full entire test off to us and gave us every single answer,” the report said.
The state police said they plan to institute a software program that could create unique tests for cadet classes. It also said it had written a new academy policy on the exchange of information and instituted term limits for instructors.
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