Jury Cracks Down on Exam Cheating in Law Enforcement

Exam cheating isn’t a new phenomenon – students have been jotting down formulas on their hands or using questions from old tests for years. While the stakes of cheating on a vocabulary test may not be very high, falsely passing a law enforcement exam does come with dire consequences. Someone who deceptively passes a test to become a police officer, for example, could be putting themselves and the community at risk. That’s why a grand jury in Cameron County, Texas, indicted 11 people accused of cheating on a sheriff’s department exam.

Exam Cheating Has Consequences
The accused were indicted for misuse of official information, a charge that’s considered a felony. As such, the perpetrators face two to 10 years in prison or a $10,000 fine, though the judge has yet to declare a sentence. According to Tyler ABC affiliate KLTV, the 11 were arrested, then released, on July 1 under a $10,000 surety bond.

Using a Cellphone to Cheat
Employees of Cameron County are required to take a civil service exam before working at the sheriff’s office. Initially, a deputy snapped photos of the exam using a cellphone camera and circulated the images to perspective employees. Five former deputies, who were fired during the investigation, and six potential sheriffs were connected to the case.

Common Cheating Behaviors
The Cameron Country Sheriff’s Department case throws into sharp relief the prevalence and seriousness of exam cheating. Law enforcement officials, schools and companies with certification programs all need to protect their exams from fraud. Using the help of online proctoring is one way to secure tests. Proctors use the Internet and webcams to monitor test takers. Proctors have been trained to identify behaviors indicative of cheating. Using a cellphone during an exam is one such behavior, and it’s how the indicted cheaters got access to test questions.
Here are a few other common red flags:

  • Checking a Phone: Test takers who look down at their phones during an exam could be cheating.
  • Looking Away From the Screen: Online testing sites display exam questions on one area of the screen. Test takers don’t need to look around their computer or the room in order to complete their exam. Some people use a shared online document to show one another answers to test questions. If test takers are peering at the perimeters of their screens, they could be accessing this information. Fortunately, some proctoring services freeze the applications of a test taker’s computer that are not necessary to complete the exam. By shutting down applications outside of the test, proctors prevent cheating.

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