Audit finds South Carolina police were skipping training videos

South Carolina News

(file/MGN photo)

HARTSVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) — At least one area police officer has been disciplined after a South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy audit found that officers were skipping training videos.

Hartsville police said that one of its new officers was caught in the audit.

“The officer said he heard about how to fast forward through the videos on a Facebook group,” Lt. Mark Blair, a spokesperson for the Hartsville Police Department, said in a statement. “He claimed he skipped through the video with his phone to see if it worked, but had all intentions of going back and watching the training in its entirety.”

Blair said the officer faced disciplinary actions and wrote a letter of apology to the academy’s director, but Blair said he can’t go into exact details about what actions were taken.

“Not only does cheating on required training make the officer look bad, but it robs them of knowledge they need in dealing with domestic violence laws,” he said in the written statement. “In effect, after watching the training, an officer is saying ‘I watched this and I understand the laws.’ By cheating on virtual training, they may fail to act and endanger someone, or they may act in violation of a law that has changed. Domestic Violence calls are one of the most complex and volatile calls an officer handles on a day-to-day basis. We take them very seriously, because if we do our job wrong someone could lose their lives on scene or after we leave.”

He continued to say that the department was “angered and disappointed” with the action, and that the virtual training has worked well during the pandemic.

“We are grateful to the SCCJA for notifying us of this audit and for giving us the opportunity to correct this type of behavior,” he said.

Thirty-one people were caught and faced penalties including suspension and termination. The academy will be running weekly reports and calling departments if it catches someone cheating. Moving forward, there will also be an alert at the beginning of videos stating that the user can revoke the certification if they’re caught cheating.

The computer system can tell how long a candidate has spent watching a video.

Officers were skipping videos on topics such as domestic violence and updates to laws, according to the audit.

News13 reached out to local departments for their responses to the audit. This article will be updated as News13 receives responses.

Timmonsville police said that the cheating did not take place at the department, but at its officers’ earlier departments. Chief Thomas McFadden told News13 that “it was addressed to ensure this wouldn’t ever take place at this department or anywhere else.”

News13 is working to confirm McFadden’s claim.

Horry County police said it has “been made aware of the audit and are addressing the matter appropriately.”

Conway Police Department Chief Dale Long said that the department is “aware of the findings of the audit.”

“I have high expectations for ethics as public confidence remains essential in our mission to serve Conway,” he said in a statement to News13. “Our department is working with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy to implement additional quality control measures.”

Bennettsville police told News13 that the department is taking the issue “very seriously” and has already changed and submitted updated policies to the academy.

“I have taken every measure to ensure that we hold our police officers accountable; moreover, set an example that this behavior with NOT be tolerated,” Chief Kevin J. Miller said in a statement to News13. “Any officer to be found in violation of department policy or conduct, which is in conflict with the SCCJA will receive serious disciplinary action.”

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