Should peace officers be certified after passing a take-home exam?
The answer to that question is provided by the prosecution of Julie Carleen Johnson-Garcia, who allegedly allowed two wannabe cops who'd flunked a pair of previous tests to take the third at home. And that's not all.
Johnson-Garcia, 55, served as proctor for the board associated with Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). In that capacity, she was supposed to oversee the POST certification exam, a one-hundred-question test intended to judge the ability of the test taker to serve in law enforcement.
The minimum passing grade is just 70 percent, but somehow in late 2009, two hopefuls, Lyle Mrace and Michael Baggs, managed to flunk it twice, with scores in the 60-percent range on both occasions. The third time around, however, they did much better, finishing with 84 percent and 82 percent scores, respectively.
How'd they manage it? According to the indictment, on view below in its entirety, Mrace later admitted that he and Baggs had arrived in Colorado Springs to take the exam, but Johnson-Garcia told them she'd run out. So she promised to e-mail the forms to them, then allowed them to take the test at home and send the answers back.
Suddenly, their improved scores begin to make test.
Mrace, who was hired by the Las Animas County Sheriff's Department after his thrid-time's-the-charm achievement, reportedly decided not to keep the exam to himself. Instead, he passed it on to Jason LaPorte, a cadet who scheduled to take the test in April 2011. In preparation, he took part in a study group -- and to assist in their preparation, LaPorte is said to have printed up copies and shared them with his fellow students.
All of whom passed, by the way. Go figure.
Johnson-Garcia faces counts of attempting to influence a public servant and tampering with a witness or victim. Commit those charges to memory, because there'll be a test.
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Here's the aforementioned indictment:
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