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Ga. state patrol head forced out after cheating investigation

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mark McDonough said he was not surprised by the governor’s decision to seek new departmental leadership


Col. Mark McDonough was appointed to lead the state patrol in 2011.


Christian Boone
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA — Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mark McDonough announced his retirement Thursday, a decision thrust upon him after a meeting with Gov. Brian Kemp.

McDonough, appointed to lead the state patrol in 2011, said Kemp informed him on Wednesday that he was seeking new leadership for the department. The governor did not cite a reason for the change, said McDonough, who announced his decision at the public safety commission’s monthly meeting.

“My family and I thank Colonel McDonough for his dedicated service, leadership, and sacrifice,” Kemp said in a statement. “We wish him the very best in the years ahead.”

McDonough acknowledged the recent cheating scandal that cost 30 newly hired state troopers their jobs likely played a role in his departure.

“The person at the head is ultimately responsible,” he said.

The dismissals followed a months-long investigation into claims by a woman, involved with one of the members of the 106th Georgia State Patrol trooper class, of widespread cheating on speed detection exams. Every cadet had cut corners, she alleged.

Eventually, all members of the class, which graduated last August, admitted they had gamed the system. McDonough said more supervision was needed and requested an audit by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.

“It’s a punch in the gut,” McDonough told reporters at a January press conference. “Our whole mode is to produce an officer the public can trust. This goes to our core values.”

Kemp’s decision didn’t come as a surprise to the former Marine combat pilot, who joined the state patrol in 1995.

“I’ve been fortunate to have this job longer than anyone else,” he said. “Eight-and-a-half years set the record so I have nothing to complain about.”