Pseudoscientific polygraph “tests,” which may be conveniently rigged against the examinee, are a favorite bureaucratic tool of intimidation. In an article titled, “Sheriff says broken trust led to firing,” Beth Velliquette of the Durham, Chapel Hill, and Research Triange region Herald-Sun reports on the case of fired Chatham County, North Carolina sheriff’s deputy Dan Phillips, who has filed a civil suit alleging wrongful termination in retaliation for his “trying to bring to light allegations of racism at a Chatham County high school and because he took an informant to the FBI on a missing-marijuana case.” Excerpt:
In [Chatham County Sheriff Ike] Gray’s affidavit, he said he fired Phillips on January 18, 2001, for an incident that occurred the day before in [Chief Deputy Randy] Keck’s office. Gray said he was in his office when he heard loud voices from Keck’s office.
“It was apparent that some type of confrontation was occurring,” he said.
“As the voices quieted and Mr. Phillips left, Deputy Keck told me that Mr. Phillips had said that we (meaning the sheriff’s department) didn’t know what we were doing, that we better ‘back off,’ that all of this was going to be a political issue, and that if we didn’t back off, he had an attorney that was going to sue me,” Gray said.
In Keck’s affidavit, he stated that he offered Phillips the opportunity to take a lie detector test, but that Phillips became agitated and said he was not going to take the test.
“He then said he had been in touch with the NAACP, who had hired him a lawyer, and then made a threat about bringing a lawsuit against the sheriff’s department,” Keck said.
Phillips contended in previous court papers that he was told to take a lie detector test, but he said he would only take one if the person who spoke out against him would submit to a polygraph test, as provided in the sheriff’s standard operations procedures manual.
It appears that a law enforcement officer who merely exercised his procedural rights has been unfairly smeared with the insinuation that he declined the “opportunity” submit to a lie detector “test” (with the unspoken implication that he “must have had something to hide”). Abuses of this kind can be prevented by ending the governmental and other exemptions to the 1988 Employee Polygraph Protection Act.
For further reading on the missing marijuana incident, see reporter Beth Velliquette’s 18 June article, “Chatham County deputy shocked at discovering marijuana missing” and her 19 June article, “Chatham missing pot trail traced.”