Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Officers Took Online Short Cuts; Dozens on Brunswick Force Have Had Training Hours Removed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Officers Took Online Short Cuts; Dozens on Brunswick Force Have Had Training Hours Removed

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

BRUNSWICK | An internal investigation of the Brunswick Police Department's online training showed a pattern of "short cutting" among 34 officers who skipped the on-screen instruction and went straight to tests saving themselves hours, records show.

Documents from the investigation obtained through a Georgia Open Records Act request showed that officers sometimes could get an hour's credit in training from the Peace Officers Standards and Training Council for spending less than 10 minutes online.

The investigation showed a deeper problem with three officers who vacated their jobs Tuesday: Chief Tobe Green, Capt. Michael Melton and Sgt. Richard Evans. The three admitted that Melton had used Green's and Evans' online identifications and passwords to take online training for them, and records show that those were also "short-cutted."

The affable Green took over after former Chief Edna Johnson was fired. Melton was a well-liked and highly regarded patrol supervisor while Evans was the city's fleet manager although he maintained his POST certification.

POST had asked every law enforcement agency in Georgia to audit its online training hours because a flaw in its software allowed officers to skim over course instruction - or skip it altogether - and go directly to the test. Brunswick launched an internal investigation.

Citing the turmoil and fear of job losses the investigation was causing in the ranks, Green had called off the investigation July 7, but City Manager Bill Weeks put Green on paid leave a week later and ordered the resumption of the probe.

While Maj. Greg Post, now the acting chief, and Capt. Kevin Jones conducted most of the investigation into the actions of Green, Melton, Evans and lead detective Wan Thorpe, it fell to Lt. Christine R. Dheel to interview 33 other officers who had questionable training hours.

Officers who took 30 minutes or more to complete an hourlong course retained their credit, but dozens had hours removed, she wrote in an investigative summary. …

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