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South Carolina

SC officers cheated on training by speeding up videos, official says

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Scott Rodgerson
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Officers in about 20 police agencies across South Carolina cheated on mandatory training by watching sped-up videos on handling criminal domestic violence cases, the head of the state's criminal justice academy told a Florence TV station.

The academy discovered the deception from a Facebook group where officers discussed how the video could be watched at a much faster speed than normal, South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy Director Jackie Swindler told WPDE-TV.

Swindler said it is a safety risk because the officers could miss key procedures or legal information. And it's an ethical problem because officers need to do the right thing even when they think no one is watching.

“Well, I guess these people assumed no one was watching. But, we are. Because everything we have is computerized ... and it showed what they did,” Swindler said.

The academy notified the police agencies where the officers cheated and allowed them to handle their own discipline. Next time, the academy plans more severe punishment, Swindler said.

“We will then handle it as certification misconduct. And that could be we pull your certification. And then you would no longer be able to police in this state or in any state in the nation," Swindler said.

Several agencies responded to the TV station's request on how officers are being disciplined without providing specifics.

In Hartsville, one new officer broke the rules, police Lt. Mark Blair told WPDE-TV. The officer read about the sped-up videos in the Facebook group and said he used his phone to see if it would work, intending to go back and watch the video in full later.

Blair said the officer was disciplined, although he wouldn't detail the punishment, and had to write an apology letter to Swindler.

Skipping domestic violence training makes an officer look bad. Also it is especially risky because the calls can be volatile and dangerous and the laws on the books are complex, Blair said.

"We take them very seriously, because if we do our job wrong someone could lose their lives on scene or after we leave," Blair said.

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