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PHSC: Most police academy training allegations not true

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— An inquiry into allegations of possible training discrepancies at Pasco-Hernando State College’s law enforcement academy revealed that one claim was substantially true, the college reported Wednesday.

College President Katherine Johnson, though, said in a letter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that three other allegations either were incorrect or that the college was already acting to address problems.

The college’s investigation determined that, as alleged, an incorrect scoring method was used for firearms qualifications, but students who participated before the problem was discovered were not required to re-qualify.

PHSC instructor/coordinator Patricia Maxwell pointed out the scoring problem with shotgun qualifications in April, the college’s letter to FDLE said.

At the time, Dean Ed Goolsby asked Donna Suereth, an FDLE field representative, whether it was necessary to re-test academy students who were about to graduate.

“Since targets were not retrievable there is no way to verify which students, if any, may have benefitted from the incorrect scoring,” Johnson wrote.

After the problem came to light, the college started using correct scoring for shotgun qualifications and plans to bring together all firearms instructors for training on the appropriate scoring model, Johnson wrote.

PHSC launched its inquiry into possible academy problems after receiving a request that it do so June 23 from Glen W. Hopkins, bureau chief for FDLE’s Bureau of Standards. Hopkins’ bureau had learned about the allegations June 13.

The other allegations and the college’s responses were:

Five students in one course reportedly benefited from some questions being removed from an end-of-course exam, allowing them to receive a passing grade.

Actually, just one student benefited after a question that was determined to be invalid was eliminated from the exam, Johnson wrote in her letter. College policy calls for checking the validity of the exam questions within 72 hours.

The policy specifically states that the analysis of the questions could result in a grade change for students. The elimination of the one question bumped the student’s score to a passing grade, the letter said.

Instructors were routinely absent and their classes had to be covered by coordinators or last-minute instructors who may not have been prepared to teach the topic. At least once class was dismissed because the instructor was absent, and other classes may have been dismissed early.

The college’s inquiry determined that no one left early unauthorized and that students are being scheduled to make up any class-time hours missed because of an absent instructor, Johnson wrote.

Students were using a student guide that was not approved by the college.

Students in all academy classes receive the Law Enforcement and Corrections Academy Policy & Procedure Manual, Johnson wrote. Changes were made and approved to the manual in 2012 and that is the version that has been in use since, she wrote.

A new revision has now been completed to reflect that college’s recent name change from Pasco-Hernando Community College, and to include the college’s new mission statement, Johnson wrote.

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