ATLANTA — Amid the revelation of a wide-ranging Georgia State Patrol cheating scandal that resulted in the dismissal of essentially an entire Trooper School, the incredible fact of how it blew open also emerged.
As Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Col. Mark W. McDonough described it Wednesday, it all started with a single trooper.
There was, at first, no suggestion of a class-wide cheating ring. The lone allegation came to GSP from a girlfriend, who had been deputized by her boyfriend to take his online tests.
For reasons that weren't made specifically clear, but probably aren't very complicated, she eventually came clean on how she'd helped him.
"What her motivations were, I'm not quite clear," McDonough said. "But I mean obviously she realized that it was wrong and she came forward."
It all might've stopped there. McDonough said in the last graduating Trooper School class, one cadet was turned in for cheating by three other cadets and dismissed. In isolated instances, he acknowledged, it is not historically uncommon.
Just how not isolated this trooper's cheating was became exposed thanks to the trooper himself.
The lone trooper who was caught, and might have stayed the lone trooper caught, instead - as 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 spelled the beginning of the end for the others.
That was in October, and a wide-ranging investigation followed. On Wednesday, McDonough announced that 30 troopers, basically the entire 106th Trooper School graduating class, had been fired.
Everyone in the class, the commissioner said, had admitted to cheating.
According to information provided by the Department of Public Safety, only one trooper was dismissed back in October. That trooper was Demon Clark, a Greene County native who was assigned to Post 17 in Washington, in Wilkes County northwest of Augusta.
Photos provided by DPS identified Clark as the man pictured below.
The cheating ring revolved around the tests cadets take to be certified to use a speed gun and was coordinated over social media platforms like Snapchat and Groupme. McDonough said the exam "wasn't rocket science," but the class had panicked and began cheating on tests after two cadets, considered the smartest in the class, failed one.
"It's a punch in the gut," McDonough said. "It goes to the core of what we do. Speed detection, enforcing the speed limit is one of the core functions of what the patrol has always done."
"And so this goes to our very core values," he added. "And so it is something that its difficult to swallow."
Photos: Georgia State Patrol dismisses troopers after cheating
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