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5 Colorado Springs police recruits suing city over failed driving test

August 8, 2017 Updated: August 9, 2017 at 6:15 am
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Police officers from the 66th police class at the Colorado Springs Police Department Training Academy take their oaths of office on April 14. Five other cadets who flunked out of the academy this year for failing a driving test are suing to restore their positions. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Five Colorado Springs police cadets who flunked out of the academy this year for failing a driving test are suing to restore their positions.

Sadatur Khan, Jason Harsha, Tyler Kelley, Kelly Robinson and Bailey Carpenter are suing Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey and the city for reinstatement in the 66th recruit class, attorney's fees and back pay for the seven months they've gone unpaid, according to a complaint filed in March. Recruits are paid a monthly salary of $4,166.

The five were among eight recruits who in February failed after instructors said they "moved," "wobbled," or "touched" one of the orange cones that outline the driver training course - a series of serpentines, 90-degree turns, high-speed lane changes and other maneuvers, the complaint said.

After admitting to hitting cones in their first and second attempts, the recruits said they passed their third runs based on their own observations, and with the Peace Officers Standards and Training required score of 70 percent. An instructor also told Harsha he passed initially, but then pulled him from class a few days later and said he'd actually failed, both parties agreed.

The recruits were given the opportunity to resign or face termination. Four did resign. Khan said he refused to resign and was terminated, a fact the city denied in its response.

The city also denied recruits hit only one cone.

A police spokesman declined to comment further Tuesday, citing pending litigation.

The POST guidelines set the minimum passing requirement at 70 percent, but adds that "each academy may apply a higher standard."

CSPD's standard requires recruits to pass the written driving exam with an 85 percent, but the actual driving maneuverability test is pass/fail. To pass, according to the two-page procedure manual that recruits must sign before getting into a car, recruits must complete the driving test "without striking any cones" and within the set time limit, among other requirements that measure safe driving.

At least 36 recruits met that standard and graduated from the academy in April.

A settlement conference in the lawsuit is scheduled for Sept. 6.

All five of the plaintiffs, except Carpenter, are military veterans. Carpenter was academically ranked first in the 66th Academy.

They are being represented by Cornish & Dell'Olio, the same firm that recently won a federal lawsuit declaring CSPD's fitness test discriminated against women and violated civil rights laws.

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Contact Kaitlin Durbin: 636-0362

Twitter: @njKaitlinDurbin

Facebook: Kaitlin Durbin

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