HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Investigators found evidence of cadet cheating, instructor misconduct and training shortcomings at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, the state inspector general said in a report released Friday.
The 47-page report suggested that cadet classes exchanged answer codes and test notes, and in some cases, instructors and troopers provided answers directly to cadets. Test content did not change, sometimes for years, and the academy lacked guidelines that outlined what type of instructional information could be provided to cadets in advance.
With about 6,000 uniformed and civilian personnel, the Pennsylvania State Police is one of the nation's largest law enforcement agencies.
The lack of an instructors' manual went to the heart of the problems at the academy, Inspector General Bruce Beemer said in an interview.
"The instructors have to have an idea of what is permissible to give to cadets and the cadets have to know what the rules are," Beemer said.
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.
One cadet told investigators that instructors held test-prep sessions in which the questions matched exam questions.
"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, according to the report. Another cadet said that senior cadets in the prior class had told them, "this is how it would be."
In one case, an inspector general investigator passed an emergency medical response test by only reading a study guide.
Some study materials trickled down from members of a previous class. One member of the earlier class said an instructor "read the full entire test off to us and gave us every single answer," the report said.
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, the report said.
Police Commissioner Tyree Blocker said he believed the culture was a recent phenomenon and that no instructor, cadet or trooper outside of that class had been dismissed. Asked why only cadets from that class were dismissed, Blocker said that internal affairs investigators had exhausted every viable lead in their probe.
The report said the state police began an internal investigation after an academy staff member found a folded, handwritten piece of paper in a hallway 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.
In its response, the state police said they were awaiting final approval from Gov. Tom Wolf's administration 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.