HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania’s state police commissioner says an investigation into suspected cheating at the state police academy in Hershey has included dozens of interviews and an extensive collection of evidence.
Commissioner Tyree Blocker’s statement Thursday, the first official confirmation of the suspected cheating first reported Monday by ABC27 News, says the investigation began at the end of December.
“As the leader of this agency, I assure the people of Pennsylvania that we will leave no stone unturned and those who engaged in such behavior face swift and certain discipline,” Blocker said in the statement. “I will make sure that each and every person involved is held accountable on behalf of our troopers – active and retired – who have built the Pennsylvania State Police into the respected organization it is today.”
Blocker said additional statements will not be provided until the conclusion of the investigation.
ABC27 News sources say as many as 40 cadets in the 144th class, scheduled to graduate in March, may have cheated on tests.
According to the sources, previous cadet classes went through the a criminal justice handbook after a test and highlighted exactly what material was in the exam. 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.
Prior to Blocker’s statement, Pennsylvania State Police would neither confirm nor comment on the alleged cheating scandal, calling it an “ongoing investigation.”
Governor Tom Wolf spoke of the scandal on Wednesday.
“To the extent that it’s true, that there was cheating, we can’t tolerate that,” Wolf said. “That is absolutely unacceptable and I won’t tolerate it.”
ABC27 News also learned that a recently graduated trooper was placed on restricted duty in connection with the scandal. He may have passed notes on to current cadets. State Police will not confirm his role in the scandal or the reason he was disciplined.
The full text of Blocker’s statement follows:
“I take very seriously my role as the head of the Pennsylvania State Police, and my commitment to ensuring every single Trooper, including myself, upholds our core values.
“We are committed to upholding the honor of the force by providing honest and faithful police service to all who may be in danger or distress. We believe integrity is character in action. We are morally and ethically aware, resolute, and above reproach at all times regardless of our duty status.
“We must solemnly value the trust that has been placed in us by those we are sworn to serve, and we are committed to holding ourselves to a higher standard of accountability to continually earn their respect each and every day.
“For over a century, the Pennsylvania State Police has earned the trust of the Commonwealth. The people of Pennsylvania rely on our Troopers to keep them safe across the Commonwealth, and they trust them to act with the utmost integrity and honor.
“Any action that challenges this bond is completely unacceptable, and I will do everything in my authority to hold any individual who undermines our core values accountable. Those who compromise our core values will receive no sympathy or respite from me.
“At the end of December 2015, Internal Affairs at the State Police promptly initiated a full and comprehensive investigation into suspected cheating at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy. This investigation has already included dozens of interviews and an extensive collection of evidence through all available means.
“As the leader of this agency, I assure the people of Pennsylvania that we will leave no stone unturned and those who engaged in such behavior face swift and certain discipline. I will make sure that each and every person involved is held accountable on behalf of our Troopers – active and retired – who have built the Pennsylvania State Police into the respected organization it is today. Each cadet who enters the Academy is held to an honor code to never cheat, lie or steal, and we will ensure that the integrity of our organization of nearly 5,000 strong is not compromised by the actions of a few.
“We will hold those responsible accountable because we owe the truth to both the people of Pennsylvania and those cadets in our 144th class who did not violate our code of honor and will go on to protect and serve the people of Pennsylvania, as do thousands of Troopers who serve Pennsylvania every single day with honor, integrity, and trust.
“The State Police asks for the public’s patience throughout the remainder of this comprehensive, on-going, internal investigation, as the agency is dedicated to ensuring each person allegedly involved is fairly and properly adjudicated. To that end, the agency also stresses that not every cadet who has departed from the 144th class is necessarily implicated in the investigation.
“Furthermore, members of the 144th class who graduate will be individuals who uphold our core values and pledge to serve Pennsylvania with honor, integrity, and trust. No actions by a small group of individuals can ever undermine a century of tradition built by our Troopers and I am confident that those graduating in March will continue to build on our proud traditions and serve the Commonwealth with the utmost honor, integrity, and trust.
“The State Police does not comment on individual personnel matters, and additional statements will not be provided until the conclusion of the investigation.”