The Polygraph as a Tool of Intimidation in the Overland, Missouri Police Department

In an article titled “Squeal Like a Pig” published in the Riverfront Times, Bruce Rushton reports on the Overland Police Department’s alleged retaliation against employees who complained of sexual harassment. This detailed investigative report includes an account of how the threat of a polygraph interrogation was used as a tool of intimidation against Overland police officer Leonard Sylcox after he complained of sexual harassment by his male supervisor, who was a friend of the chief. Excerpt:

About the same time, Sylcox was summoned to [director of professional standards and head of internal affairs Captain Walter] Bunt’s office and ordered to take a polygraph examination. When Sylcox twice asked the subject of the inquiry, he says Bunt twice answered, “Everything.” Sylcox asked why this was necessary now that Miller [whom Sylcox had accused] was gone. He also reminded Bunt that [director of field operations Captain Robert] Morrissey had told him that he wouldn’t have to take a polygraph, but Bunt was adamant. The next day, Sylcox received a written order to appear for a polygraph test in one week.

The stress on Sylcox was obvious to [Sylcox’s partner,] Gibson. On the day Sylcox received his polygraph order, Gibson asked him what was bothering him. Sylcox told his partner that he had been ordered to take a lie-detector test, but he couldn’t say anything more. “What is going on, you never tell me what’s going on,” Gibson responded. “You obviously have issues with our command staff, and they obviously have issues with you.” Gibson then confessed that he had been sent to the storefront as a spy.

Sylcox contacted a lawyer, and the polygraph was canceled. When he asked Bunt why, he says the captain responded, “You got an attorney so we canceled it. That’s what the chief [Colonel James Herron] wanted.”

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