Police test board unaware of extent exam was compromised

CALL7 Investigation Found Dozens Test Questions Available In Study Guide

DENVER - Attorney General John Suthers knew for months the police certification test was compromised but a key board member said the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board was never informed of the seriousness of the problem.

Denver FBI Special Agent in Charge James Yacone said, through a spokesman, that he first learned from a CALL7 investigation that the P.O.S.T. curriculum board chairman was selling a study guide with verbatim questions and answers from the test.

Former Commerce City Police Chief Philip Baca is selling the study guide, known as the “Baca Book,” for $75 and the study guide had dozens of questions and answers that are on the police certification exam. At the time, Baca chaired the committee that oversaw training and testing for the board.

The study guide is popular with people studying for the police exam and clearly helps students pass the test.

“It was strongly recommended that we take this training class with Chief Baca from Commerce City,” said Steven Kass, a former State Patrol cadet who is now in private security. “And he was going to give a prep class on the post exam.”

Baca told CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia that he wrote the questions and gave them to the P.O.S.T. when officials requested but he would not name the officials.

Kass said the study guide was a big help.

“What happened when you got to the test?” Ferrugia asked.

“It became clear to me that I recognized a lot of the questions,” Kass said.

“Same as in the book?” Ferrugia asked

“Yes,” Kass said.

Joseph Sandoval, a former police officer and professor at Metro State College, where Baca also teaches, said people who took the test and used the study guide should have to retake the exam.

“Well, in my view the test is compromised by virtue that there are certain sheets out there that are circulating that have identical questions with the answers in them that folks have available to them,” he said. “There needs to be some kind of solution in order to ensure that the test was used has a certain validity one and number two that the test itself as means of becoming certifiable as a peace officer in the state has validity because that's what then becomes the question.”

Suthers said he did not believe police candidates have to take the test again and he did not believe Baca violated the law in selling the study guide. Suthers did concede Baca had a conflict of interest, and Baca profited from selling the guide.

“Would you agree with me that the more questions verbatim that are in his book that are on the test, the more valuable his book is?” Ferrugia asked.

“Oh yeah,” Suthers said. “And the easier the test is.”

“And he was selling it at 75 bucks a shot,” Ferrugia said.

Suthers said, who allowed Baca to resign in January, nodded.

Sandoval and Kass said having the exam questions widely available makes the test invalid.

“What's the point of having the test?” Sandoval said. “Might as well just say go through the academy and let your instructors grade you.”

“You were basically happy you had the questions in advance?” Ferrugia asked.

“Yes,” Kass said.

“Easy to pass the test?” Ferrugia asked.

“Much easier,” Kass said.

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