South Africa: “Lie Detector Tests for Anti-Poaching Team”

This short article by the Cape Times’ environmental writer is reproduced here in full:

Lie detector tests for anti-poaching team

December 3, 2004

The Overstrand Municipality is looking for a tough, committed group of people to join their revamped anti-poaching unit and who will be prepared to undergo lie detector tests before they get their jobs.

Last month, three Marines were suspended after they were found with perlemoen [abalone] in their vehicle.

Johann Erasmus, senior project manager of the Overstrand Marines, said yesterday they would be employing an extra 30 staff members to swell their staff complement to 43.

The Marines will work closely with Marine and Coastal Management who will also be employing extra fisheries inspectors in the area.

This will form part of the new Operation Trident anti-poaching initiative to replace the defunct police Operation Neptune anti-poaching project.

Erasmus said yesterday: “We’ve encountered so much corruption in the anti-poaching work, which is just unacceptable.”

“The public put their trust in us to do the job and we can’t afford to have anyone who is corrupt.”

“Only people who agree to take a lie detector test in the interview and agree to undergo random lie detector tests once they are employed, will be considered for the job.”

“If they fail it, they won’t get the job. If they fail it once they are employed, they will be fired.”

The Marines will be on patrol in shifts for 24 hours, on foot, by vehicle and by boat.

The Marines will also set up a 24-hour operations centre where the public can report suspected poaching incidents anonymously.

For further information, telephone 028 271 8120. The closing date for applications is December 15. – Environment Writer.

Johann Erasmus’ desire to root out corruption is commendable. But his decision to rely on the pseudoscience of polygraphy is wrongheaded. Polygraphy has an inherent bias against truthful of persons. Conversely, it is easily defeated by liars who understand the trickery on which the “test” depends. By relying on lie detectors, agencies will tend to systematically screen out their most honest applicants. The lie detector is a poor substitute for real background investigations and snap inspections.

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