Cheating scandal at state police academy triggers investigation

BURIEN, Wash. - Recruits at Washington state's police academy have been caught cheating on the academy's written exams, according to the academy's director.

Sue Rahr, executive director of the the Basic Law Enforcement Academy in Burien, tells KOMO Newsradio that recruits circulated exam questions and answers on illicit computer thumb drives.

"Certainly our testing process has been compromised," Rahr says. "It's clear somebody has gotten their hands on testing information."

Rahr, a former King County sheriff, says recruits in two of the three classes currently training at the academy shared stolen test answers, and that those answers also may have been used by past recruits who have now graduated.

Rahr says two current recruits came forward to reveal the existence of an "unauthorized study guide."

An internal investigation is under way.

Rahr says the emerging scandal "tarnishes the integrity" of the academy. She said it is too soon to say whether any recruits will be expelled. That decision will be made on a case-by-case basis, she says.

"I'm disappointed and very surprised that our recruits would do this," Rahr says. "It's a breach of public trust, and we're going to have to work very hard to restore that trust."

Rahr says all academy tests will immediately be re-written. Two classes known to have had access to the test answers will be required to pass an additional newly created test.

Rahr stresses that passing the written exams is only part of what it takes to become a police officer. She says it's "highly unlikely" compromised testing materials would allow an unqualified candidate to become an officer.

The Basic Law Enforcement Academy trains all police officers statewide except state troopers. The Washington State Patrol has a separate training institution.

Rahr says all law enforcement agencies with a recruit currently at the academy are being notified of the scandal. The notification program could be expanded if the investigation reveals cheating took place prior to the current classes