Investigation clears nearly all troopers accused in cadet test cheating scandal

Investigation clears nearly all troopers accused in cadet test cheating scandal

ATLANTA — The head of the agency that oversees police conduct in Georgia tells Channel 2 Action News that an independent investigation has cleared 32 of 33 former Georgia state troopers implicated in a test cheating scandal last year.

The main person behind that investigation told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne that while the trooper academy staff did not tell the cadets to cheat, there was a major miscommunication and there was no intention to cheat for most of the cadets.

“They made us feel like we were cheaters and that’s not what we were,” said former trooper Daniel Cordell.

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“Do you feel cleared now because POST has taken this action?” Winne asked Cordell.

“Yes,” Cordell said.

A ranking state official says what was painted as a cheating scandal engulfing Georgia State Patrol Trooper School 106 turns out to be mostly a communications breakdown.

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Now, good news has been communicated to almost every member of that class.

Mike Ayers is the executive director for the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, or POST. The organization oversees the certification of every state and local law enforcement officer in Georgia.

Ayer said POST investigated all 33 now-former troopers who lost their jobs as a result of the so-called cheating scandal -- 32 were fired and one resigned.

He said after its investigation, POST found no basis to take any action against the certification of 32 of the 33 former troopers.

“That investigation completed spans more than 8,000 pages,” Ayers said. “Had there been an issue of a violation of their integrity then we would’ve taken their certification. We decertify more officers in this state than any other state in the nation. That’s because we take integrity incredibly serious.”

Ayers said the certification of two instructors, a cadet from the class and a cadet from an earlier class were ordered revoked but those are not final yet because of the appeals process.

Ayers said the test in question should have been given in person. He told Winne that POST, not the Georgia State Patrol, bears most of the responsibility.

He said the cadets clearly believed the teaching staff cleared them to use electronic devices and consult with each other on the test although the staff says those were not their instructions.

“Interviewing the instructors, they told us, you know, from day one in trooper school they preach work together as a team, don’t leave your fellow trooper in a ditch so to speak. Now that’s a far cry from telling people to cheat,” Ayers said.

Attorney Jeff Peil said his client, Cordell, was one of the former troopers cleared by POST.

“It sounds so mundane, no action, but in actuality it’s a total vindication,” Peil said.

“If the Georgia State Patrol were to offer you your job back would you take it?” Winne asked Cordell.

“I really can’t say for sure at this moment. I’ve thought about it. I’ve prayed about it,” Cordell said.

Ayers told Winne that sweeping changes has been made to try and prevent something like this from happening again.

He said the Georgia State Patrol was extremely cooperative throughout the investigation.

A representative for the GSP sent Winne a statement, saying, “due to pending litigation, no comment will be made on the 106th Trooper School class.”

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