The Washington State Patrol will conduct an investigation into allegations of cheating by state police academy recruits, the academy’s director announced Monday.
Director Sue Rahr said earlier that the information from an unauthorized study guide containing test answers and questions has been circulating among recruits in two out of three classes currently in training at the Basic Law Enforcement Academy in Burien.
The investigation centers on material stored on a computer thumb drive — a small, portable data-storage device — dating back several years, but it is not known how long the information has been circulating, Rahr said in a statement. It was not immediately known how many recruits were involved.
“It could be old material loaded onto a new thumb drive,” the statement said. “Or the thumb drive may have been circulating for a number of years. We will not know until the investigation is complete.”
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Rahr said she was “deeply disappointed” in the recruits who used or had knowledge about the existence of this material and did not come forward to report it.
“It tarnishes the integrity of our profession and damages public trust,” she said. “This is the most significant issue in this situation.”
Her statement said a recruit came forward Thursday and reported the information about the use of the unauthorized study materials.
The academy is immediately operating as if all tests have been compromised and assigned a curriculum writer to immediately rewrite all academy tests, the statement said.
Recruits in the two classes in question will be required to pass an additional newly created comprehensive test in order to graduate.
Other steps are also being taken to bolster the testing process, and every law-enforcement agency with a recruit currently enrolled in the academy has been notified of the investigation.
Other law-enforcement agencies will be notified if the unauthorized study materials have been circulating with previous classes.
The statement said recruits likely used the material to narrow their studies and to memorize items they knew would be on the test.
But the written tests are only the first in a series of practical tests to measure recruits’ mastery of the material, and they must demonstrate their knowledge through field tests.
After graduating, recruits undergo additional field training with the police agencies they join, the statement said. The academy is a central training facility for police agencies statewide, with the exception of the State Patrol, which does its own training.
“It is highly unlikely that this compromise of testing materials would enable an unqualified candidate to become a police officer,” the statement said, citing the multiple phases of testing.
Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org