EXCLUSIVE: Internal probe targets alleged cheating at police academy

Published: Feb. 8, 2016 at 10:41 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2016 at 10:24 AM HST
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Ke Kula Maka'i Police Academy
Ke Kula Maka'i Police Academy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A cheating scandal at the Honolulu Police Department's training academy has resulted in an internal investigation, officials said.

Some recruits in the current class at HPD's training academy in Waipahu are under investigation because of allegations that some of them received answers to questions on tests in advance, allowing them to cheat, sources told Hawaii News Now.

It's not clear how widespread the alleged cheating is, but the police department is taking the situation seriously, and might temporarily re-assigning both the captain and major in charge of training.

Sources said those commanders are under scrutiny because the alleged cheating happened on their watch and they received anonymous complaints about cheating for a while but failed to take immediate action.

Sources said training academy instructors are having to re-write all their tests.

"This is an academy that's supposed to be training police officers that have a higher ethical standard than the public," said Aaron Hunger, a UH and Remington College criminal justice instructor.

Hunger served as a field training officer at sheriff departments in California and Florida before moving to Hawaii, where he is working on his dissertation about accountability at HPD.

"If you're bypassing the educational process by providing individuals with answers, then the retention of information will probably not be long in duration," Hunger added.

HPD Deputy Chief Marie McCauley released a statement that said, "Classroom instruction is continuing while the investigation is conducted.  At the conclusion of the investigation, any recruits found to have cheated will be discharged."

There are 64 HPD recruits currently in the classroom phase of instruction and since they're all on probation, it's much easier to fire them because unlike police officers, they cannot appeal or file grievances over any disciplinary action.

Sources said there have been other problems at the police academy in the last couple of years, when trainers wanted to flunk several recruits, but were overruled by their superiors, who allowed them to graduate.

Sources said at least one of those questionable officers ended up quitting the first day on the job.

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