GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – The pending promotions of 72 Clay County deputies to the rank of sergeant or lieutenant were placed on hold because the Sheriff's Office said the content of the promotion exam that they took might have been released before the test was administered.
The exams will be re-administered as soon as possible, and the remainder of the promotion process, including file reviews and oral interviews with the finalists, will resume when the new results are ready.
Clay County Sheriff-elect Darryl Daniels said Friday that he was disappointed to learn of the leak because studying for the exam is time-consuming and a lot of effort goes into getting a good score.
"Promotional exams are very stressful on the employee. They understand their future and profession is at stake," Daniels said. "We're talking a lot of material. Not just this much material, but stacks and stacks of material that has to be digested over time for it to really sink in and for the person to have a real strong working knowledge that people carry into their new role with them."
The Sheriff's Office said in a statement that it's invalidating the results of the most recent exam because "the integrity of the results have been called into question. In an abundance of caution and fairness, the possibility that the test's content was revealed in advance is being investigated and the exam results have been invalidated."
In the meantime, Daniels said, the employees who hadn't been promoted will continue their jobs as normal. For the employees who did receive a promotion, they will go back to their original position until the exam is re-administered, according to Daniels.
Daniels said it's unfortunate for those who received their grade honestly.
"Say a person scores and they are the first person on the list, number 1 through 10. And they go through the process again, they may wind up number 12 or 13. That's unfair to the person, but the integrity of the process is most important. And if they truly want the promotion, they'll do whatever it takes to apply themselves to do the same thing they did before to reach the position they did the first time," Daniels said.
An internal investigation is underway into the possible leak and the Sheriff's Office said it will not release additional information until that is complete.
Daniels said he believes current Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler, who will retire in January, will do a good job making sure the investigation is thorough.
The date of the new exam has not yet been set.