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Report finds problems with 2022 NYPD sergeants exam that led to cheating

The Department of Investigation found that, among other issues, officers were not prevented from accessing their phones and using them to distribute test questions


A 2022 NYPD promotion exam for future sergeants was riddled with problems that contributed to cheating on the test, a new oversight report concludes. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for New York Daily News/TNS)

Luiz C. Ribeiro/TNS

By Graham Rayman
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — A 2022 NYPD promotion exam for future sergeants was riddled with problems that contributed to cheating on the test, a new oversight report concludes.

In one case, a retired captain who runs a promotion test school for cops was improperly allowed to take that exam and 18 others dating back to 2002, the Department of Investigation report found.

Most of the questions in the sergeants exam given on Aug. 3 and 4, 2022 were passed on in screenshots from cops in internet chat groups, and 35 questions and answers out of the 100 total questions were distributed verbatim to more than 1,200 test takers, the DOI report found.

It was the first sergeants exam since 2017. More than 10,300 cops sat for the test, which took place at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. It had been originally set for 2020, but was canceled because of the pandemic.

Ninety-five of the 100 questions were the same on day 1 and day 2 of the test.

Just 1,730 officers passed the test out of 10,399 who took it, or 17%, including a test taker who got only three of the 100 questions correct.

That “officer” turned out to be a retired captain ineligible to take the test — and who happened to run a promotional school that charges cops $800 each for instruction on the test, the report said.

The investigation showed that the retired captain, who was not named, had improperly registered for 19 exams from 2002 to the present, all of them after he had already been promoted to captain. He retired in 2013.

During an interview, he claimed he intentionally answered questions wrongly so he could protest questions he thought were unfair, the report said.

As part of the investigation, DOI screened 2,712 applicants for a lieutenants exam in March 2023 and found 103 were ineligible for various undisclosed reasons.

The 2022 test was technically overseen by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which hired two private companies to develop and run the exam — Morris and McDaniel Inc. and PSI Services LLC, the report said.

Soon after the test, about 80 officers filed cheating allegations, saying the test was identical on both days, that officers who took the test on day 2 got answers from cops who took it on day 1, and that some officers were able to use their cell phones immediately beforehand.

The test takers were suppose to turn off their phones, but some cops ignored that rule and sent and received text messages about the questions while waiting to be shown into the exam room, the report found.

After a probe, NYPD Internal Affairs disciplined seven officers for test-related misconduct with penalties ranging from three to 30 lost vacation days, the report said. Those officers admitted to sharing answers in various chat groups.

DOI also found that some cops who were not eligible to take the test got to take it anyway.

“Cheating on civil service exams is unacceptable under any circumstances and is particularly troubling where the exam is required for promotion in the NYPD, whose officers have a duty to enforce the law and to act with integrity at all times,” DOI Commissioner Jocelyn E. Strauber said.

Still, the DOI report concludes “the compromised questions had little to no impact on the Exam’s pass/fail rate.”

The oversight agency made a series of recommendations to tighten regulation of the exams. It noted that it had previously made similar recommendations but they weren’t enforced in the 2022 test.

Following this review, DCAS has pledged to implements DOI’s recommendations, the report said.


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