State organization investigates claims of police officer cheating

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An organization that sets certification and training standards for municipal police officers in Pennsylvania is investigating allegations that multiple officers from Western Pennsylvania cheated on recent recertification exams.

Three officers from Duquesne's police department are scheduled to speak to the Pennsylvania State Police next week as part of "administrative interviews" being conducted in connection to the alleged scandal, Duquesne Chief Richard Adams said Monday.

The Municipal Police Officers' Education and Training Commission has been working with several other agencies for about two weeks to investigate the claims.

The total number of officers under scrutiny, or departments potentially affected, remains unclear.

Maria Finn, a spokeswoman for the state police, said she did not want to provide specifics because she did not want to jeopardize the investigation.

"At this point, they have no reason to believe it's a criminal matter," Ms. Finn said.

Officers who are caught cheating could face sanctions ranging from suspension to decertification, Ms. Finn said.

Chief Adams similarly provided limited information.

"Once those interviews are conducted and the facts are available, then appropriate action will be taken," Chief Adams said.

That action, he added, could be on the part of state police, Duquesne police, or both.

Chief Adams described the interviews as information-gathering on the part of state police.

He did not know who, if anyone, would be present at the interviews on the officers' behalf.

The chief said he was first made aware of the investigation a few days ago.

He would not identify the officers to be interviewed, their ranks or whether they were accused of cheating. He said they remain on the job.

State police officials declined to elaborate on how the cheating allegedly occurred.

Penn Hills police Chief Howard Burton, who teaches classes to officers as part of their mandatory annual recertification, said he was aware of the probe.

"There's an investigation that's being conducted by the state police, and it alleges, I guess, cheating on certification exams by police officers," Chief Burton said. "Police have to attend mandatory training every year, and it's a 12-hour program."

Chief Burton said he did not know how the allegations came to light.

The state attorney general's office declined comment.

In 2009 the state revoked the certifications of 15 police officers, most from Delaware County on the New Jersey border.


Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. Jonathan D. Silver: jsilver@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1962 or on Twitter @jsilverpg. First Published February 24, 2014 4:20 PM

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