Atlanta, Georgia – An entire class of recent Georgia State Patrol academy graduates were fired or resigned after investigators determined they had all cheated on an exam.
A total of 33 troopers graduated from the Georgia State Patrol 106th Trooper School on Aug. 16, 2019, WFXG reported.
They had spent 20 weeks at the academy, as well as 12 weeks in field training, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
In the months following their graduation, one trooper was previously dismissed, another resigned, and a third was on military leave, WFXG reported.
The remaining 30 troopers were fired after investigators determined that they cheated on an online Speed Detection Operator test, Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS) Commissioner Colonel Mark McDonough confirmed on Wednesday.
The investigation into the cheating scandal began on Oct. 8, 2019, after the girlfriend of Trooper Demon Clark told DPS personnel that she took the online test for him, WJBF reported.
Upon confrontation, Trooper Clark confessed that he had cheated on the exam, but he also argued that the entire class had done the same thing.
The Office of Professional Standards (OPS) interviewed every member of the class over the weeks that followed, WFXG reported.
In the end, the OPS determined that each one of them cheated on the exam using notes, internet searches, and Snapchat groups.
They also received test answers from another cadet, as well as questions and answers that were posted online by a cadet, WFXG reported.
“It’s a punch in the gut,” Col. McDonough said of the scandal, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This goes to our very core values.”
After graduating from the academy, the troopers were assigned to 52 posts throughout the state.
They wrote a total of 133 speeding tickets in the month that followed.
Col. McDonough said that notification of the troopers’ terminations has been sent to courts throughout Georgia, and that most of the citations the troopers issued will likely be dismissed, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The loss of manpower has been a major blow to the DPS.
“The impact, on average, can be three or four troopers per region,” Col. McDonough said, according to KDVR. “When you look at the size of the region, for instance, Troop I on the coast, that’s pretty much the whole coastal 100-plus miles and then inland.”
“You take three or four troopers…off the road and you see the distance of the interstate, [them] not being there can have an impact,” he added.
Investigating the cheating scandal also cost taxpayers at least $50,000, KDVR reported.