Cheaters cheat because they’re dumb. And 14 wannabe city of Las Vegas firefighters are clearly among the dumbest.
After 18 weeks of training, instead of now holding a steady job with excellent benefits, they are booted out on their bums. The entire class was banned from graduating after the state Fire Marshal’s Office noticed similarities in their answers on the written test and asked city officials to investigate.
But because of federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules, the foolish 14 can reapply if they choose. The feds say each person’s case must be considered individually.
In reality, I doubt any of the 14 reapply for any future academy openings. The Class of 2013 now carries a stigma.
City of Las Vegas spokesman David Riggleman said there is no automatic presupposition that if they were accepted previously, that they’ll automatically be accepted again. “If they choose to reapply, they will be required to start from scratch in essence and begin the entire process over again.”
Why would you hire a cheater?
These cheaters deserve to be blacklisted, and not just from the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue but from any employment by the city of Las Vegas, just for costing Las Vegas taxpayers nearly $719,000. That’s more than $51,000 each for their 18 weeks of training.
Those 14 goofs who thought they would be spending their Valentine’s Day basking in the praise of friends and family during graduation, instead have shamed themselves.
It’s clear they cheated out of fear, fear they couldn’t pass the written exam.
That makes them dummies. Dummies, even rookie dummies, don’t belong in positions of public safety.
Those Clark County firefighters who scammed the sick leave and vacation system at least were smart, even if they cheated in their own way by working the system to their advantage.
Review-Journal reporter Antonio Planas prodded the city to release these numbers, which showed the wannabes were considered city employees and were paid about $30,000 each for their 18 weeks in the academy.
For that kind of money, they couldn’t put in a few extra hours of study time?
People lined up to apply for these jobs. The city stopped taking applicants after the first 500, but there were double that wanting to apply, Riggleman said.
To speed up the process of filling those 14 positions, the next academy will be what’s called a “lateral academy,” Riggleman explained. That means they will have had previous experience as firefighters or paramedics. Instead of requiring 18 weeks of training, this class should last 10 or 11 weeks. Rookies need not apply.
The process has started with applications already available on the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue website.
The 14 should have been the best and brightest, the most promising candidates.
Instead they were cheaters. And if some didn’t cheat, but knew of the cheating and kept their mouths shut, well, they were not cut any slack. They were equally culpable.
One of the core values of Las Vegas Fire & Rescue is integrity. The department defines it this way: “We do the right thing even when no one is watching, we take responsibility for our actions.”
The state chooses random questions to be asked on the written test.
“So many of the answers were similar, that suggested to (State Fire Marshal Peter Mulvihill that something was wrong,” Riggleman said.
Riggleman said while the 14 academy members are out the door already, the investigation continues into other city staff. He didn’t know how many cheated and how many stayed silent knowing others were cheating.
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point has a straightforward honor code all of us should live by: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do.”
Looking the other way is no excuse.
Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at (702) 383-0275