PSP academy cheating scandal: The story so far

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – It began as whispers, but by week’s end it had grown into full-throated confirmation that the Pennsylvania State Police was, indeed, investigating suspected cheating at its academy in Hershey.

It was a fast-moving story and here’s a look at how it unfolded and where it now stands.

On Monday, ABC27 was the first to confirm the possible scandal among cadets in the 144th class and previous classes. Sources also tell us that it potentially involves as many as 40 cadets, nearly half the class that was scheduled to graduate March 18.

The cheating is clearly a violation as cadets are reminded on the first day that they must not lie, cheat or steal.

On Tuesday, we learned that passing of notes from the Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Justice Handbook, nearly 1,900 pages thick, is at the center of the investigation.

On Wednesday, ABC27 confirmed that a current trooper who had graduated from the 143rd class last December is on restricted leave in connection with academy cheating. Governor Wolf spoke of the scandal for the first time.

“To the extent that it is true, that there was cheating, we can’t tolerate that,” Wolf said following an unrelated press conference. “It is absolutely unacceptable.”

On Thursday, for the first time, State Police confirmed it’s been investigating cheating since late December. In a 10-paragraph statement, Commissioner Tyree Blocker praised the history of the PSP, but had stern words for “the few” that would harm its reputation.

“I assure the people of Pennsylvania that we will leave no stone unturned and those who engaged in such behavior will face swift and certain discipline,” Blocker said in the statement.

Also Thursday, ABC27 confirmed that in the three days since the scandal was publicized, five troopers from one specific platoon have left the academy. PSP says it shouldn’t be assumed that the departures are related to cheating.

The 144th began in September with 116 members. By Tuesday, the number had dropped to 88. On Thursday, there were 83 cadets remaining.

Family members tell ABC27 that the academy’s on a form of lockdown, meaning no weekend leave for cadets. They also say a scheduled family day next week has been cancelled.

State Police ask for patience while the investigation continues. Midstate law enforcement professionals are willing to give PSP time but have no sympathy for anyone found to have cheated.

“They should be shown the door,” said Patrick O’Rourke, former police chief of Derry Township. “I would even mail their belongings. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of going back to pack their own stuff. I would pack it for them and UPS it to their house.”

The internal affairs investigation continues. PSP says it will have no further comment until it is complete.

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