ATLANTA — In a shocking move, an entire class of Georgia State Patrol (GSP) troopers has been dismissed after an investigation found that the class had cheated on one of their exams.
The state public safety agency made the announcement, Wednesday.
According to Department of Public Safety Commissioner Col. Mark W. McDonough, the cheating ring revolved around the exam that cadets take to be certified to operate a speed gun, McDonough said. It occurred within the 106th Trooper School, which graduated in August.
According to McDonough, the ring included cadets sharing information over social media, via Snapchat and GroupMe. But the cadets went further, lining up their stories with one another over the social media platform once an investigation had begun.
An initial allegation was against a single trooper who had apparently given his username and password to a woman he was in a relationship with. The woman who took the tests on behalf of the cadet told GSP about doing so.
"What her motivations were (about coming forward), I'm not quite clear," McDonough said. "But I mean, obviously, she realized that it was wrong and she came forward."
That led to an investigation that began in October - the single trooper who was caught, McDonough detailed, "said 'Well, I'm not the only one who cheated, I'm not the only one who did this,' and made the allegation that essentially everybody had cheated."
And that led to the discovery of the various other cheating instances.
During the Office of Professional Standards investigation, investigators found the cadets used written or typed notes, received direct assistance from another cadet (test answers), used test questions and answers posted by a cadet on the GroupMe online application, and queried an internet search engine for test questions and answers. Additionally, two Snapchat group chats were created which included several members of the class.
McDonough said that the scheme was a clear violation of trust and integrity.
"Our whole mode is to produce an officer that the public can trust. When a person is pulled over, when they're given a speeding citation, they should feel that the training the person received and their performance on the exams to get that certification has been done so without cheating," McDonough said. "And so this goes to our very core values and so it is something that its difficult to swallow."
None of the 33 troopers who initially graduated remain with the agency at this time. Thirty of the officers were dismissed in one day. One other cadet had previously resigned for reasons that weren't disclosed, another had been dismissed previously and the third is on military leave.
This is the full list of the 106th Trooper School:
- Erguens Accilien, Columbia County, Post 21 - Sylvania
- David Allan, Hall County, Post 6 - Gainesville
- Jalin Anderson, Richmond County, Post 33 - Milledgeville
- Erik Austell, Bibb County, Post 15 - Perry
- Evan Bauza, Chatham County, Post 11 - Hinesville
- Logan Beck, Camden County, Post 23 - Brunswick
- Christopher Cates, Rabun County, Post 27 - Blue Ridge
- Seferino Chavez, Clayton County, Post 47 - Forest Park
- Demon Clark, Greene County, Post 17 - Washington
- Christopher Cordell, Catoosa County, Post 5 - Dalton
- Clint Donaldson, Coweta County, Post 49 - Motor Unit
- Eric Guerrero, Coffee County, Post 36 - Douglas
- Jonathan Hayes, Paulding County, Post 29 - Paulding
- Nicholas Hawkins, Walton County, Post 46 - Monroe
- Bradley Hunt, Muscogee County, Post 2 - LaGrange
- Clarence Johnson, Richmond County, Post 25 - Grovetown
- Evan Joyner, Muscogee County, Post 2 - LaGrange
- Richard Justice, Columbia County, Post 25 - Grovetown
- Malcolm Martinez, Cobb County, Post 47 - Forest Park
- Rebecca Moran, Gwinnett County, Post 51 - Gwinnett
- Paul Osuegbu, Barrow County, Post 6 - Gainesville
- Jose Perez, Colquitt County, Post 13 - Tifton
- Patrick Pollett, Columbia County, Post 25 - Grovetown
- Troy Pudder, Houston County, Post 30 - Cordele
- Caleb Pyle, Coweta County, Post 24 - Newnan
- Daysi Ramirez, Houston County, Post 15 - Perry
- Gabriel Rampy, Carroll County, Post 4 - Villa Rica
- Adam Salter, Pike County, Post 26 - Thomaston
- Jerry Slade, Crisp County, Post 30 - Cordele
- Kyle Thompson, Berrien County, Post 36 - Douglas
- James Vaughan, Sumter County, Post 10 - Americus
- Brian Whelehan, Bryan County, Post 23 - Brunswick
- Kelley Whitaker, Miller County, Post 14 - Colquitt