DALLAS — Dallas police officers who took a
rigorous exam last year for a shot at being promoted to sergeant will
have to try again later, officials said Tuesday.
The integrity of
the test had been questioned after a police major who helped shape the
exam also coached clients through a test-prep business.
Officers must pass a civil service exam before being promoted to
senior corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. The promotional process for
the ranks of sergeant or lieutenant is often described as taxing and
stressful. It includes a written exam and a test through an outside
assessment center that many spend months preparing for.
from the test, which was offered in November, had been in limbo for
several months while police investigated the assessment center portion
of the promotional process.
Police Maj. LaToya Porter, who runs a
test-prep business to help officers prepare for the sergeant exam, has
been under investigation.
She's accused of adverse conduct,
creating a conflict of interest and interfering with the integrity of an
administrative investigation and giving misleading and conflicting
statements during an internal affairs investigation, Lt. Mike Igo told
the Dallas Civil Service Board. Igo oversaw the investigation.
Porter's attorney has said she did not give her clients an advantage over other officers taking the sergeant test.
She remained on administrative leave Tuesday, and police said the internal affairs investigation tied to her remains open.
civil service board, an independent board through the city, agreed
Tuesday that police should void the results from the "unfair" November
exam and offer another exam for officers vying for the sergeant rank.
Results from the written test will remain intact, police said.
facts behind this allegation: Major Porter had privileged access to all
test material," Igo told the board during his briefing Tuesday.
said Porter met with the assessment center as a subject-matter expert
about the same time she notified Dallas police of her affiliation with
Rank & File Development Group, a consulting business she started
with another officer.
She discussed police tactics and the rating
criteria for the sergeant's test with the assessment center's staff, Igo
said. Police found during their investigation that scenarios reviewed
during the Rank & File sessions were similar to some of those on the
After the test, someone anonymously reported that Porter
was engaging in "adverse conduct" while serving as an expert for the
test and taking payments from 12 test-takers through her business, Igo
said. The first session cost $180 and each follow-up session cost $90.
Porter learned that someone was asking about her business model, Igo
said, a law firm hired by her business sent a certified letter to
clients reminding them that they had signed a waiver prohibiting them
from disclosing any materials provided to them by the firm.
Police, however, managed to get their hands on the letter during their internal affairs investigation.
Chief Scott Walton, who oversaw the personnel division at the time of
the testing, said police have "grave concerns" over the integrity of the
assessment center portion of the sergeant test.
Walton told the
civil service board that the officers who used Rank & File should be
allowed to retest because they didn't know about Porter's involvement
with the test.
"To keep them from that opportunity I think would
be unjust, given the set of circumstances we understand them to be,"
Members of the civil service board cautioned police
about the frustration that is likely to come from officers who weren't
involved, but will have to take the test again.
"We don't want to take a black eye on this," board member Anita Childress said.
In the meantime, the promotional process for other positions remains on hold for officers.
unclear whether Porter is still a major within the Dallas Police
Department. Chief U. Renee Hall restructured the department in late
November. Porter was not included on Hall's list of majors.
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