ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Public Safety has fired a whole class of 31 Georgia State Patrol troopers after it said it found widespread cheating on part of the entrance exam.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant broke the news Wednesday morning after he confirmed the “sweeping" disciplinary action involving a training academy class in 2019.
Diamant learned from a source last week about the massive internal investigation into allegations of cheating on a critical exam cadets need to pass before graduating from the training academy.
On Wednesday after afternoon, DPS Commissioner Col. Mark McDonough held a news conference to address the firings.
“It’s a punch in the gut,” McDonough said. “Our whole mode is to produce an officer that the public can trust. This goes to our very core values, and so it is something that is difficult to swallow.”
The troopers all graduated from the same training class in August 2019.
We know leadership launched an internal probe in October after a citizen came forward to admit she took an online radar test for one of the cadets.
Upon further investigation, leaders learned the whole cadet class had cheated on the test.
Internal documents that Diamant obtained through an open records request show “each former cadet disclosed they had cheated and described the method(s) they utilized to cheat."
One trooper told investigators that he “help ‘em basically – guide ‘em to the right answer to pass it.”
“It makes me think, what else is going on, you know? What else is going on that the public doesn’t get to hear about?” student Rakan Dabbas said.
Taxpayers are also worried.
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“Certainly, we can’t have public servants who don’t have a fundamental sense of ethics,” said Dr. Carol Marsh-Lockett.
Diamant asked McDonough about the fallout from this investigation.
“You remove a certain group of people from the roadway, it does have an impact, in my opinion, on public safety,” McDonough said.
McDonough said the agency has already notified several courts to flag more than 100 cases troopers were involved in before they were fired.
“We have a responsibility to maintain that relationship with the public and to show that we’ll handle our business even when it is very, very difficult, and this is a difficult thing,” McDonough said.
A spokesperson for Gov. Brian Kemp sent Diamant a statement, saying:
“We’re closely monitoring the situation to get answers and ensure that this issue is properly addressed. It’s a serious matter and we’re glad it’s been brought to light.”