HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – If the Pennsylvania State Police Academy had commandments, one of them would definitely be Thou Shalt Not Cheat.
And that commandment’s been shattered, sources say, by dozens of cadets in the 144th class which is scheduled to graduate in March.
“It’s unfortunate. The State Police have a fine reputation for honor and integrity,” said Steve Wheeler, who carried a badge and a gun for 35 years, 29 with the state attorney general’s office. He’s currently a law enforcement consultant with SRW Strategies.
Wheeler says cadets trying to get ahead on a test have set back the entire profession.
“It’s disheartening because most law enforcement go to work every day, they don’t end up on YouYube, they’re not in the news, they do the right thing at all times,” he said. “Now, they’re painted with another brush: I’m racist, I’m a brute because I use too much force, and now, I’m a cheater.”
If the police academy had a bible, it would be the nearly 1,900-page Criminal Justice Handbook, chock full of codes, procedures and laws.
It’s a good book at the center of the alleged bad behavior.
Sources tell ABC 27 News that previous cadet classes went through the handbook right after a test and highlighted exactly what material was in the examination. They then transcribed it to notes and passed those notes on to cadets in the 144th class.
One of those cadets, sources say, accidentally left the notes behind. An instructor found them and immediately blew the whistle, we’re told. Apparently, the academy was not changing its tests from year to year or class to class.
“Surprised,” state Representative Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon) said of her reaction. “I have to admit a bit shocked and I have to admit disappointment.”
State police are near and dear to Gingrich’s heart. Her two brothers are retired troopers. Her dad was one, too, and, in fact, taught at the academy. She loves the institution and is saddened by the scandal. But Gingrich is also proud of PSP’s handling of the unpleasant situation.
“I’m proud just knowing there’s no way they’d try to sweep anything like this under the carpet. They’re gonna deal with it full force. I’m totally confident they’re gonna be able to get to the root of it, stop it, and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’m hoping that not too much time is lost and those cadets that we lose need to be lost.”
State Police will neither confirm nor comment on the alleged cheating scandal, calling it an “ongoing investigation.”