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Settlement reached in lawsuit over failed Colorado Springs police academy driving test

January 2, 2018 Updated: January 3, 2018 at 6:50 am
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photo - FILE - The 36 police officers from the 66th police class at the Colorado Springs Police Department Training Academy take their oaths of office Friday, April 14, 2017, during the graduation ceremony at the Village Seven Presbyterian Church for the 66th police class at the Colorado Springs Police Department Training Academy.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
FILE - The 36 police officers from the 66th police class at the Colorado Springs Police Department Training Academy take their oaths of office Friday, April 14, 2017, during the graduation ceremony at the Village Seven Presbyterian Church for the 66th police class at the Colorado Springs Police Department Training Academy. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

Five Colorado Springs police cadets who sued the city last year after flunking out of the academy for failing a driving test each has been awarded $1,000 in a settlement.

The "amicable resolution" reached in October awarded that money to Sadatur Khan, Jason Harsha, Tyler Kelley, Kelly Robinson and Bailey Carpenter and paid $15,000 to Cornish & Dell'Olio, which represented them, according to the terms provided by the city. The lawsuit was dropped days later.

The terms fell far short of the damages sought, which called for the five recruits to be reinstated in the academy and for back pay during the seven months after they were terminated from the program - a sum of nearly $30,000 at the time.

The cadets filed the lawsuit in March, claiming they were unfairly terminated from the 66th recruit class for failing a driving test. They were among eight recruits who instructors said "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 lawsuit 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 met the 70 percent score required by Peace Officers Standards and Training.

The POST guidelines do set the minimum passing requirement at 70 percent but say "each academy may apply a higher standard." CSPD's standard requires recruits to pass the written driving exam with 85 percent, but the actual driving maneuverability test is pass/fail. To pass, recruits must complete the test "without striking any cones" and within the set time limit, among other requirements, says the two-page procedure manual that recruits must sign before getting into a car. At least 36 recruits from the 66th academy class met that standard and graduated from the academy in April.

Per terms of the settlement, any comment from the recruits, city or Police Chief Pete Carey is limited to acknowledging the settlement. But it does stipulate, "The City denied any wrongdoing leading to the terminations."

The police department also "will make no disparaging statements" about the recruits and will provide their records to future employers when asked, the settlement says.

Law firm Cornish & Dell'Olio also won a federal lawsuit last year declaring that 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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