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18 N.C. Officers Could Face Suspension of Police Certification in Cheating Case

The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Some 18 Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers, including one major, could face stiff disciplinary action - including the possible suspension of their police certification - for their part in a cheating scandal.

On Friday, a state panel in Raleigh will consider the cases of former police training academy staffers Maj. Ruth Story, Sgt. David Gehrke and recruit trainer Ginny Woodlief, along with 15 officers who went through the academy since 2001.

A 10-member committee of the state Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission will decide whether the officers violated commission rules.

The panel has the authority to suspend the officers' police certification either temporarily or indefinitely, said Scott Perry, the commission's director. A person cannot be a police officer in North Carolina without the certification.

Story, 44, was in charge of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's police academy in 2001, when recruits copied questions from 20 tests they had already taken and created a study guide. The guide was passed from class to class for three years until it was discovered.

The department disciplined about 135 of the more than 300 officers who went through the academy during the time the study guide existed. Sixteen officers were suspended and more than 100 were ordered to retake the compromised tests. The retesting is ongoing.

No one was fired over the cheating scandal, but several members of the academy staff were reassigned.

Woodlief, who directly supervised the class that created the study guide, was suspended for five days. She was the only member of the academy staff disciplined by the department. She declined to comment.

Story, who was promoted from captain to major in January, did not return calls. As one of 12 majors in the 1,520-officer department, she supervises the Central Service Area.

Police Chief Darrel Stephens has asked to address the committee at the start of its meeting Friday, and he will be allowed to speak.

State investigators also will make a short presentation about each officer. The police officers will be given about 15 minutes to respond, Perry said. The officers are not required to attend the meeting.

The committee will consider whether officers failed to show "good moral character," and whether they obtained certification by deception or cheating. If the committee finds they did, the officer's certification could be suspended temporarily or indefinitely.

The committee, appointed by the governor, legislative leaders and law enforcement organizations, includes chiefs of police, sheriffs, a prison superintendent and others.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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