State Troopers

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 9, 2011

Test cheating probe said to involve local troopers

By Billy Davis

An alleged promotions testing scandal among Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers may include more than a half-dozen from Troop E in Batesville.

At least six troopers from Troop E are on paid leave this week while an internal investigation proceeds, said an official who is familiar with the ongoing investigation.

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It’s unclear how the diminished manpower at Troop E affects coverage for Northwest Mississippi.

Captain Mike Wilkie, who said Thursday he could not comment about the investigation, oversees Troop E.
Jon Kalahar, a spokesman for the Dept. of Public Safety, did not return phone calls Thursday from The Panolian.

Troop E includes nine northwest Mississippi counties: Panola, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Yalobusha, Lafayette, Tate, Tunica, DeSoto and Marshall.

The Clarion-Ledger reported Thursday that at least 16 troopers across the state have been suspended with pay over allegations that test answers were shared with some troopers to help them pass promotion tests. That number may have jumped to 18 statewide, since an official told The Panolian two more Troop E troopers were suspended Thursday, bringing the total to eight from the Batesville district.

The Department of Public Safety, which oversees the highway patrol, is conducting the investigation according to The Clarion-Ledger.

Meanwhile, attorneys who represent black state troopers are requesting an outside investigation of the alleged cheating scandal by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Black troopers within MHP have alleged racial discrimination for some time and the Justice Department is already investigating those allegations.  

An official who is familiar with the promotion testing said it’s administered to troopers who are seeking a supervisory position, which begins with the rank of master sergeant.

The most recent promotion tests were given in August for master sergeant, lieutenant and captain positions according to the Jackson newspaper.

WAPT, a Jackson TV news station, has reported that “top brass” from Troop E met with top MHP officials September 1 at MHP headquarters in Jackson over the investigation.

WAPT and The Clarion-Ledger have reported troopers were given polygraph tests as part of the investigation, citing sources within MHP.