Academic Cheating Within the PSP 144th Cadet Class
On March 16, 2016, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP)
requested that the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General (OIG) conduct a
comprehensive investigation into allegations raised about the PSP Academy.
These allegations included:
Cheating on a particular test in the 144th
Inadequacy and ineffectiveness of current
training and testing; and
Misconduct by instructors, including racist and
Additionally, PSP asked the OIG to consider what factors
may have contributed to any misconduct uncovered and make recommendations to
address the findings.
The OIG’s subsequent investigation was one of the largest
the agency has ever conducted in its 29-year history. Eight OIG investigators
worked solely on the PSP investigation, logging about 8,160 full-time investigative
work hours or 1,088 days.
The investigators completed more than 105 interviews of graduated,
dismissed and resigned cadets; current and past academy staff; PSP command
staff; current and former troopers and others; traveled more than 8,840 miles
throughout Pennsylvania and generated more than 6,570 pages of interview
transcripts and memoranda.
The OIG investigators also obtained approximately 50.91
gigabytes of data from the PSP, including cadet dismissal packets, PSP training
materials, study guide examples, resignation letters, academy personnel
information, 16,196 pages of interview transcripts and other information.
The OIG investigation concluded with the following
cheating did occur.
Cadets were disciplined for cheating and other
infractions in an earlier PSP Internal Affairs Division investigation.
Academy instructors were aware of study guides
created by and shared between cadets and classes.
academy created an environment that allowed the opportunity for cheating.
Academy instructors provided cadets with answers
to examinations, according to cadets, instructors and PSP investigative
The academy rarely changed questions/answers on
traffic law, criminal law and final cadet examinations.
§ The academy’s
Emergency Medical Response Curriculum is apparently inadequate under American
Red Cross standards.
§ A May
2014 internal PSP review recommended academy educational improvements,
including instructor term limits, continuing education for instructors and
changes to cadet training and curriculum. A former senior academy official from
that time was unable to identify any specific recommendation that was implemented.
the cheating incident, PSP has made changes (and proposed others) to academy
§ The OIG
referred to PSP – and PSP adjudicated – three incidents of potential racist, discriminatory
or other problematic activity.
The OIG made the following recommendations based on the
academy should institute computer-based testing with random questions. Following
the implementation of this testing system, PSP should allow cadets to exchange
study guides. Note: On Jan. 4, 2017, PSP reported that the Office of
Administration recently approved purchase of a computer testing system.
the academy obtains and fully implements a computer-based testing system, the
OIG should periodically review the academy’s examination system. Subsequently,
the Systems and Process Review Division of PSP’s Bureau of Integrity and Professional
Standards should conduct such reviews.
should be prohibited from sharing exam questions and answers with cadets before
complete Academy Instructor Manual should be produced as soon as possible.
competence should be evaluated frequently.
academy should research and use effective teaching methods from other state
police academies/colleges (i.e., adult learning protocols).
academy should create and use four different traffic and criminal law exams.
academy should consider using essay questions on exams.
dates should be marked on academy examinations.
should consider investigating whether instructors violated cheating and other
should apply a three-to-five year term limit on all academy instructors.
academy should ensure the Emergency Medical Response curriculum meets American
Red Cross standards.
should provide necessary teaching certification documents, and the academy
should keep those certification documents on file.
should be allowed to make anonymous complaints about academy staff.