Illustration for article titled Nothing but Bad Apples in This Bunch: Entire Class of Georgia State Troopers Fired Over Cheating Scandal
Screenshot: Department of Public Safety Commissioner Col. Mark W. McDonough (11 Alive)

The Root’s Michael Harriot once asked a simple yet profound question: “Where are the good cops?”

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Whenever there’s a new story in the news about a police officer committing an act of police brutality, an extrajudicial killing, racial profiling or any other act of corruption, we’re always given this “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch” narrative; the inference being that the problems with corruption in police departments across the nation are individualistic and not systemic. And yet, we see more and more evidence to the contrary.

According to the Washington Post, an entire class of Georgia state troopers was compelled to turn in their badges after investigators found they had cheated on an academy radar test. Officials say that every last one of 30 members of the 106th Georgia State Patrol trooper class cheated on an exam that tests cadets on how to operate speed-detection technology.

As a Georgia resident myself, who lives a pretty criminality-free existence but still avoids police like I got warrants and they got the plague, I have to say, I find this alarming. I may have cheated on my fair share of exams when I was in school, but I wasn’t testing for a position in enforcing the law and making arrests. I was probably just trying to pass Algebra 2 or some shit. This is clearly different.

Officials were alerted after a woman who was in a relationship with one of the cadets told them she had taken the test for him, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Col. Mark W. McDonough said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. (I know a lot of us don’t like to condone snitching, but I’m sure most of us can agree to give the move a thumbs-up in this instance.) The woman’s confession prompted the department’s Office of Professional Standards to launch a three-month investigation, which started on Oct. 15.

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McDonough said that when the former cadet was brought in and disciplined for giving his girlfriend his username and password so she could take the test for him, he implicated the rest of his class. In other words: Issa whole snitch-o-thon in this bih! I’m sorry, but a cop hitting his fellow cops with the, “If I get in trouble, I’m telling on all y’all!” script is hilarious irony that I’m far too petty to not enjoy.

“He then came forward and said, ‘I’m not the only one who cheated’ and made the allegation that everyone had cheated,” McDonough told reporters of the 33-person class that graduated in August.

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From the Post:

McDonough said the then-cadets were accused of cheating on the speed-detection exam and that one cadet had helped others with answers to the online exam. He also said a training instructor had printed a makeup assessment and allowed two cadets who had initially failed to turn in exams to do so the next day.

Investigators found the then-cadets had used notes to cheat, posted test questions and answers on a GroupMe chat, and used two Snapchat groups to facilitate answer sharing, McDonough said.

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“They were using the chat groups to communicate to each other not only in the advent of passing information for cheating on the exams, but also to get their stories straight for when the investigation started,” McDonough said, adding that the troopers violated a department code of conduct policy that includes an expectation for academic integrity.

“It’s a punch in the gut,” McDonough told reporters. “This goes to our very core values. It’s something that is difficult to swallow.”

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To further complicate things, the members of the graduating (under false pretense) class had already started their officers’ duties and issued 133 speeding tickets. Whether those tickets will remain legitimate is unclear, but if I’m in court and I know the cop that ticketed me was one of the 30 fired cadets, I’m going all Johnnie Cochran in front of the judge like, “If he cheated and shit, you must acquit!” According to McDonough, the troopers were forbidden to use radar technology once investigators realized the severity of the scandal.

McDonough also noted that, amid the scandal, the online option of the course will no longer be available, a complete audit of the training department has been requested, and more disciplinary action could follow.

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“I think the trust with us is done.”

Oh, it’s been done for a lot of us, Sir. Welcome to the club.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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