Kemp asks Public Safety chief to resign after state trooper cheating scandal

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DPS Commissioner Col. Mark McDonough talks about the firing of 30 troopers on Jan. 29, 2020. (Photo by Beau Evans)
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ATLANTA – Georgia’s public safety chief offered up his resignation Thursday in the wake of a cheating scandal in which 30 new state patrol officers were fired last month.

Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, is poised to step down after the agency’s board accepted his resignation at a meeting Thursday morning.

McDonough was asked to resign by Gov. Brian Kemp, according to the governor’s office. His resignation comes in the wake of the trainee cheating scandal as well as a crippling cyberattack in July and a break-in at the State Capitol in late September.

“My family and I thank Col. McDonough for his dedicated service, leadership and sacrifice,” Kemp said in a statement. “We wish him the very best in the years ahead.”

The governor’s office did not have details Thursday morning on who would replace McDonough.

The public safety department houses the Georgia State Patrol, the Motor Carrier Compliance Division and the Capitol Police Division.

A veteran U.S. Marine, McDonough was a state trooper in Blue Ridge before being tapped as the commanding officer of the state patrol. He was picked for the commissioner post by then-Gov. Nathan Deal in 2011.

The public safety department was peppered with problems in recent months.

In July, a ransomware attack downed the agency’s main computer server, forcing troopers to log citations and reports manually.

In September, a vandal smashed through a glass door, shattered several light fixtures and tore a gash in the framed portrait of former Gov. Samuel Marvin Griffin.

Last month, McDonough announced an entire State Patrol cadet class was canned for collectively cheating on an online exam required to use the agency’s radar speed detectors. The trainees circulated test questions among themselves in their dorm rooms to pass what they feared was unduly difficult exam, according to an internal investigation report.

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