ATLANTA (WSAV) – Officials say 30 members of a Georgia State Patrol (GSP) school were fired Wednesday morning.
Col. Mark McDonough, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety and head of GSP, said the dismissals stem from an investigation that started in October 2019 into the 106th Trooper School, which graduated 33 cadets in August 2019.
Three of the troopers dismissed are from the Coastal Empire: Evan Bauza, of Chatham County, assigned to Post 11 in Hinesville, Brian Whelehan, of Bryan County, assigned to Post 23 in Brunswick and Erguens Accilien, of Columbia County, assigned to Post 21 in Sylvania.
McDonough said the investigation started after a complaint came from a citizen who had a relationship with a former cadet. The cadet apparently gave her his name and password so she could take an online test for speed detection.
“She realized it was wrong and she came forward,” the commissioner said, adding that the individual was not a member of law enforcement.
McDonough also explained that at this time, it’s unclear if she will be held accountable for taking the exam.
When the cadet was confronted last year, McDonough said other allegations then came to light. The department began investigating a number of complaints:
- That everyone in the 106th Trooper School cheated on a speed detection exam
- That one cadet helped other cadets with online exams
- That three cadets assisted another with passing his exam
- That a training instructor gave a written makeup exam to two cadets who had failed one, allowing them to return to their dorm with it, turning it in the next day
McDonough said all of the complaints were sustained, violating the Georgia Department of Public Safety rules regarding academic integrity.
“It’s a punch in the gut,” McDonough told reporters Wednesday.
“When a person is pulled over, when they’re given a speeding citation, they should feel that the training that the person received and their performances on their exams to get that certification has been done so without cheating,” he said, adding, “This goes to our very core values and so it’s something that is difficult to swallow.”
McDonough said he has made a request for a complete audit of the training department which he hopes will start next week. He said additional disciplinary action could be taken.
GSP will have to reshuffle resources in its nine regions to account for the latest firings. The Department of Public Safety says the cheating investigation cost at least $50,000 taxpayer dollars.