The Metropolitan Police Department brass has to take a tough exam all over again, and it’s due on Friday. MPD spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump says that’s the deadline for the intelligence-led policing test police leaders are required to complete online.

The test was first issued this fall, but has been reformulated and re-administered because of cheating allegations levied against Assistant Chief Diane Groomes. MPD has now cleared Groomes of any wrongdoing. Some have found that development curious. Groomes seemed to be apologizing for cheating in an earlier statement: “I’m sorry… for my actions and bad judgement,” she wrote in an e-mail. The chairman of the D.C. Council’s Public Safety and Judiciary Committee, At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson,sounded as though he’d learned she’d given out a cheat sheet to help other officers. “She supposedly said: ‘Hey, you have to get this done, you are overdue. Here, here’s the answers. Just get this in,’ ”  Mendelson told The Washington Post.

According to Crump, 100 percent of those required to take the test that first go-around passed.

That might seem suspicious, but at the end of an investigation conducted by Internal Affairs, Chief Cathy Lanier announced that a briefly suspended Groomes could go back to her job, citing the fact that the exam was open-book. Police sources have repeated rumors that Groomes divided the test into sections and asked different officers to research each one. Supposedly, when they completed the task, she compiled their work and sent it out via e-mail.

That might or might not be okay, depending on how you interpret “open-book.” But then again, the exam was meant to familiarize officers with intelligence gathering techniques, and also, with how to strike the all-important balance between using those techniques and respecting civil rights. That information can’t be mastered with an answer sheet.

The FBI found itself in a somewhat similar situation in 2009, points out  Kris Baumann, the D.C. police union chief, and heads rolled.”What are we saying? That we’re less ethical than the FBI?”

Law enforcement culture might have once taken collective test-taking in stride, but that’s definitely out for MPD. Crump claims test scores haven’t suffered as a result.  “91 percent have completed the second comprehensive assessment of the material,” Crump says of the second intelligence-led policing exam. She claims all have passed.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery