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Report finds evidence of cadet cheating at State Police Academy

HARRISBURG, Pa.–A report released Friday from the state Office of the Inspector General found evidence of cadet cheating, problems with training and testi...

HARRISBURG, Pa.–A report released Friday from the state Office of the Inspector General found evidence of cadet cheating, problems with training and testing, and misconduct by instructors at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy.

In an effort to curb further cheating, the Office of the Inspector General recommended the academy should institute computer-based testing with random questions, instructors should be prohibited from sharing questions and answers with cadets before tests, an Academy Instructor Manual should be produced as soon as possible and instructors should be evaluated frequently and have term limits.

The cheating allegations surfaced in December 2015 after an Academy staff member notified PSP Internal Affairs Division of a cheat sheet that had been found within the 144th PSP Academy Cadet Class.

On March 16, 2016, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Tyree Blocker requested that the Office of Inspector General conduct an investigation into the allegations of cheating in the 144th Cadet Class.

The investigation was one of the largest in the agency’s 29-year history and involved about 8,160 investigative work hours, according the release.

“Our charge in conducting this investigation was not to rule on the merits of the individual dismissed cadets’ cases but to take a comprehensive and independent look at the academy’s instruction and testing methods to determine what factors may have contributed to any misconduct uncovered and to make recommendations to address our findings,” Inspector General Bruce R. Beemer said. ” The state police was fully cooperative in the investigation and, indeed, has already made changes and improvements to some of the shortcomings we identified.”

The investigation concluded that the academy created an environment that allowed cheating to occur because instructors provided cadets with answers to test questions and did not often change the content of the tests. The state Office of Inspector General referred to state police–and state police adjudicated–three incidents of potential racist, discriminatory or other problematic activity at the academy.

Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Tyree C. Blocker released the following statement in response to the findings of the Office of Inspector General related to academic cheating within the Pennsylvania State Police Academy:

“On March 16, 2016, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) requested the Office of Inspector General review matters related to academic cheating within the 144th Pennsylvania State Police cadet class, which had come to light in late 2015. Although substantial changes had already been implemented within the Bureau of Training and Education, the PSP sought an independent review in the interest of full transparency.

“As the result of a self-initiated internal investigation, the PSP has implemented considerable improvements to the academy organizational structure, command and instructional staff, and operational procedures to prevent cadets from cheating on examinations and to improve the quality of instruction at the academy.

“The PSP academy has invested in technology to help combat academic dishonesty. New learning management software is being adopted that will support the creation of ‘test banks,’ allowing for randomized exam questions for each group – eliminating the ability of cadet classes to recycle tests from a previous class.

“The program will allow instructors to communicate information to cadets in a manner consistent with a traditional educational setting. An updated academy policy regarding the exchange of information has been established to support the new learning management system.

“Steps have been taken to advance the training, guidance, and evaluation of academy instructors. In support of these efforts, a new position was created within the Bureau of Training and Education to oversee course content, cadet instruction, and examinations. In addition, the department worked with the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association to institute three- to five-year term limits for academy instructors.

“Ongoing training and education is a key facet of 21st century policing. As such, the Pennsylvania State Police has initiated a partnership with the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at Elizabethtown College to review the entire curriculum, as well as the way cadets are instructed, tested, and evaluated. We recognize that people learn differently and teaching methods are constantly evolving. The collaboration with Elizabethtown College will help PSP foster a culture of innovation at the academy and ensure that instructors are trained to the highest standards in adult education.

“On behalf of the entire Pennsylvania State Police, I thank the Office of Inspector General for investigating this matter. Since 1905, enlisted and civilian personnel have worked tirelessly to earn the trust of the people we serve. We remain committed to upholding our core values of honor, service, integrity, respect, trust, courage, and duty.”

Click here to read the full report from the Inspector General’s office.