- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2016

New York Police Department sergeants allege in a lawsuit filed Thursday that cops have been able to scam their way toward receiving promotions by using an online cheat sheet containing the answers to a civil service exam.

Attorneys filed the suit in Manhattan federal court on behalf of nine NYPD sergeants who say the city should put a department-wide freeze on promotions while it investigates allegations of rampant cheating, specifically with respect to a makeup exam offered to officers last summer.

Sgt. Jonathan Blatt and eight colleagues claim in the suit that only 6.8 percent of the 2,400 NYPD sergeants who took an April 18, 2015, civil service exam received passing grades. When 80 of those flunkies took a makeup exam on June 22, however, the passing rate suddenly spiked to 48 percent.

In the interim, plaintiffs claim that an answer key to the exam was posted on an Internet message board, Rising Star, where users also discussed the test with one another in advance of the makeup date.

“(If) you need the exact wording of a specific question, message me the question number and i will send it to you!” user Tavares91 wrote on May 18, 2015.

“He sent me 2 questions VERBATIM so he is good on my book lol,” responded another forum member, Doggielover.

The lawsuit also alleges that test-takers brought phones into the exam room during the makeup date, and openly discussed questions and answers with one another during bathroom breaks.

“Allowing officers who cheated and/or who disseminated information regarding the Lieutenants Exam’s questions or answers prior to the makeup exam (and have thus not shown to be qualified) to be promoted to lieutenant could endanger the lives of police officers working under them and the public at large,” the lawsuit claims.

“The simple question here is whether or not the NYPD wants to promote sergeants who cheated on an exam to get to the position of lieutenant,” attorney Randolph McLaughlin told the New York Daily News. “We don’t believe that’s in the public’s interest … or in the department’s interest.”

The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau confirmed this week that it is investigating the cheating accusations, and U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer is slated to hear arguments on Monday over whether a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction should be set to put on a pause on all further promotions.

“Cheaters shouldn’t be promoted. There are lots of possibilities for cheaters here. Given that, we shouldn’t have anyone promoted to lieutenant until the NYPD figures out who the cheaters were — if they can.” Mr. McLaughlin told the New York Post.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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