7/17/2008Ohio Cops Caught Cheating on DUI Test
Ohio Inspector General report finds state troopers cheated on their breathalyzer competency exams.
Police officers administering tests used to determine whether a motorist is guilty of a serious drunk driving offense may not actually know what they are doing. The Ohio Inspector General yesterday released a scathing report that accused a state highway patrol post of cheating on tests used to certify proficiency with breathalyzer units.
"This is not solely about cheating on a test that admittedly the vast majority of law enforcement officers can pass, it is about the public's expectation that public safety officials should maintain the highest levels of integrity at all times," the report stated. "Cheating, no matter the circumstances, has no place in a law enforcement agency. It cannot be tolerated, encouraged, or condoned."
Conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) carries harsh penalties that can cost more than $10,000 in fines and attorney fees. Under current law, a guilty or not guilty verdict often rests solely on the results produced by machines that estimate the amount of alcohol in the blood based upon a breath reading. Police in Ohio may only use these machines if they have up-to-date certification from the state Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Testing, which requires an annual written renewal exam.
On March 2, 2007, Trooper Anthony Maroon took that fifty-question multiple choice test. When the test giver, Craig Yanni, left the room, Maroon photocopied the booklet along with his answer sheet. Although the test is easy enough that few troopers ever fail, Maroon passed his answers to other state troopers in the Canton Patrol Post. During a test Yanni administered a year later, Yanni noticed that a trooper using a 2 inch by 3 inch reduced photocopy of the question book. Yanni went to Sergeant William Bower to report the incident and noticed that Bower already had his own copy of the answer sheet on his desk.
The discovery kicked off an investigation that reviewed 22,000 answer sheets to find how many got questions 30 and 47 wrong -- the only mistakes that Maroon made, but ones "any senior operator would and should recognize as incorrect." Investigators also interviewed with every officer who took the test on April 4. The inspector general criticized the lax testing conditions.
"We found that there are no written, standardized procedures addressing how inspectors should administer exams," the report stated. "For example, the inspector who administered the exam on April 4, 2008, pointed out questions to test takers that were answered incorrectly and gave them an opportunity to change their answers."
In total, Maroon's answer sheet was used by test takers on at least five testing occasions. This cheating was so blatant that five sergeants knew about it, but failed to take any action. Although the inspector general's report only covered the actions of state troopers, allegations have already surfaced that local police in Blue Ash, Jackson Township and Montgomery have also cheated.
"We believe that the sergeants' collective and individual inaction allowed Trooper Maroon to feel comfortable enough to carry out this scheme in front of everyone, regardless of rank, and without regard to any consideration of the consequences. It is our determination that the sergeants' failure to properly intercede with regard to Trooper Maroon's conduct represented a breakdown of leadership."
In response to the investigation, the state has changed the test and its answers and insisted that test givers remain in the room during testing. Some of the cheating law enforcement officials have been given either an oral reprimand or a three-day suspension.
A full copy of the report is available in a 465k PDF file at the source link below.