A Washington Post report into a possible cheating scandal with the Prince George’s County Police Training Academy has Prince George’s County Police (PGPD) officials on the defensive. Over 32 PGPD and Maryland-National Capital Park Police are implicated in the scandal, which has PGPD Chief Roberto Hylton question motives.

In an open letter to Prince George’s County residents, Hylton defended the stance he’s taking on behalf of fellow officers.

“First, I want you to know that I support the men and women of the Prince George’s County Police Department,” Hylton said. “As long as I am the Chief of Police, I will not allow the integrity of this police department or the professionalism of its members to be maligned. The motive for this article was obvious and unnecessary, with the potential for long-term repercussions for us all.”

The controversy began when a cadet, dismissed for health concerns, complained that an instructor had been providing students with answers. The Post’s report showed that 11 of 12 tests showed that all students had received perfect scores.

The PGPD conducted its own internal audit of the class, session 115, and according to Hylton, the scores were due to instructor improprieties and not to an entire class cheating.

“So far, the audit has indicated that members of Session 115 did not cheat,” Hylton said. “An instructor, however, was disciplined for improperly administering a test to Session 115. It is not anticipated that the records of Sessions 116 and 117 will reveal any abnormalities; those are being audited solely out of an abundance of caution.”

Despite Hylton‘s statements, the Maryland Police and Correction Training Commissions will review the county’s investigation. That review will begin as soon as the county concludes its audit. That audit, which didn’t produce any wrongdoing by any of the cadets, did show areas in which the academy needed to improve.

“Thus far, the audit has revealed that there are deficiencies in the record keeping practices at the Training Academy,” Hylton said. “The Department is developing a plan to improve documentation and record retention practices, which will be implemented immediately.”

The collateral damage in the situation has caused instructor Brian Fowble to be transferred to the sex offender registration unit. Fowble denied any wrongdoing in an interview with the Post.

No officers have been removed from active duty, but they’re being reviewed by the State’s Attorney’s office to see if any of the officers are on the witness list for cases that are pending. If they are they’ll have to be disclosed to the defense.

Hylton says that county residents will have nothing to worry about and he continues to have full confidence in the department and his officers. He says he expects the same professionalism and integrity from the department as residents do.

“I expect the members of the department to meet the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct,” he said. “Our commitment to the community has been, and, continues to be, to conduct appropriate, transparent investigations, extracting all the facts. I ask for your patience while this audit is conducted. We know that you are depending upon us to keep you safe.”

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO