Normal Topic Only 1 in 4 Applicants Pass the Prince William County Police Pre-Employment Polygraph (Read 4410 times)
Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Only 1 in 4 Applicants Pass the Prince William County Police Pre-Employment Polygraph
Aug 9th, 2016 at 5:18am
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Prince William County, Virginia Chief of Police Barry M. Barnard

Prince William County, Virginia news outlet has published an article by Jill Palermo titled "New police chief seeks more officer diversity."

Palermo reports that Chief of Police Barry M. Barnard is seeking to diversify his workforce. Whites comprise only 45% of the county's population, but nearly 80% of the police force. According to Wikipedia, in 2012, Prince William County "had the seventh highest income of any county in the United States."

But most applicants, nearly three quarters of them who make it as far as the polygraph, are eliminated by it. The commander of the PWCPD personnel bureau describes the polygraph as the department's primary means  of evaluating integrity. Those considering employment with the Prince William County Police should ponder the integrity of a department that relies on scientifically baseless means to brand three quarters of applicants as liars.

Chief Barnard should scrap the polygraph and rely instead on background investigations. There is no evidence that polygraph screening improves the integrity of a law enforcement agency. For example, state and local law enforcement agencies are barred from polygraphing applicants in the states of Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Oregon. But there's no evidence that these states have more corrupt cops than states like Virginia, Texas, and Florida, where polygraph screening is widely required.

By embracing the pseudoscience of polygraphy, Barnard is unjustly screening out qualified applicants like this one.


New Prince William police chief seeks more officer diversity

Jill Palermo

During a series of community meetings in the wake of recent police-involved shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas, Prince William County’s new police chief talked openly this month about a problem that has long beset the organization he leads.

The police department doesn’t look like majority-minority Prince William County.

According to the most recent U.S. Census estimates, Prince William is 45 percent white and 55 percent black, Hispanic and Asian. Its police department, however, is nearly 80 percent white.

Prince William Police Chief Barry Barnard, just promoted to the job five weeks ago, calls the disparity “a challenge.”

During a community forum Monday at the predominantly African-American First Mount Zion Baptist Church in Dumfries, Barnard asked for the community’s help to recruit minority candidates and emphasized that the department is “always hiring.”

“I’m going to just put this right out there. It’s important that police departments across America represent the people they serve. And one way to do that is to reflect the community that makes up our population,” Barnard said.

“As we all know, Prince William County is a very diverse community... It’s one of our strengths. We’re delighted about that,” he continued. “I know what the diversity is in Prince William County, and we’re not where we need to be.”

Having a police department that mirrors the community is important, Bernard said, to improve cultural understanding and foster a stronger sense of trust between police officers and the residents they serve.

A lack of diversity is a problem for police departments nationwide. But in fast-growing Prince William, which plans to hire between 60 and 80 officers a year “for the foreseeable future,” as Barnard says, recruiting minority officers has become a top priority.

Toward that goal, Barnard recently relaxed the department’s tattoo policy, which once limited body art to three tattoos per limb, all of which had to be smaller than the applicant’s hand.

The new policy no longer limits the number or size of tattoos but prohibits only “offensive” body art and tattoos located on the head and neck.

Barnard said he considered the old policy “too restrictive” for twenty- and thirty-somethings, a generation that views tattoos as commonplace. The new policy, he added, was aimed at attracting young officers in general, not just minority candidates.

“I don’t want to keep someone who would otherwise be a good police officer from becoming a good police officer,” Barnard said after a July 28 event sponsored by Men Yearning to Get Involved, a local nonprofit that pairs teenage boys with successful black and Hispanic men who volunteer as mentors.

“If you’re a great person and you want to be a police officer but you have a ‘sleeve,’ we still want you to be a police officer,” Barnard said, referring to a slang term meaning an arm covered from shoulder to wrist in multiple, intertwining tattoos.

The department also eliminated a written academic-aptitude test for police candidates, a decision made by Barnard’s predecessor, former Prince William Police Chief Stephan Hudson, who retired this spring.

According to Prince William County Police Lt. Erik Barnhardt, commander of the department’s personnel bureau, the exam tested both reading comprehension and reasoning, and was thought to assess whether a candidate could handle the classroom portion of the county’s Criminal Justice Academy, which teaches Virginia’s legal code and department policies.

Several months ago, Hudson let the personnel bureau clear a few candidates who failed the test but passed all other portions of the screening process. All finished in the top 10 or 20 in the 40-student academy class, Barnhardt said.

“Clearly, the fact they failed the test did not mean they couldn’t be a successful police officer,” Barnhardt said.

The department has stepped up efforts to recruit officer candidates at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as well as job fairs hosted by universities with high populations of minority students, Barnhardt said.

A college degree is not required to become a police officer, but between 60 and 70 percent of new hires have at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Candidates are most commonly between the ages of 23 and 28, but the department also recruits heavily among military veterans and thus often hires new officers in their forties and fifties.

Starting base pay for Prince William police officers is $47,777. Candidates are awarded bonuses if they have a college degree, prior military experience or speak Spanish, Barnhardt said.

The pay is considered competitive with surrounding jurisdictions, but jobs with federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA and Secret Service typically pay more, which is a constant challenge for local police departments.

Although some police departments have reported a decline in applications in the wake of recent police-involved shootings, that has not been the case, so far, in Prince William, where the department typically gets more than 100 applications a month, Barnhardt said.

Those numbers remained strong even after the February shooting that killed newly sworn police officer Ashley Guindon and injured two veteran officers, Jessie Hempen and David McKeown – a fact the department attributes to the swell of community support after the tragedy, Barnhardt said.

Barnhardt said the physical-fitness test and 26-page personal-history statement are perhaps the most difficult aspects of the department’s screening process. Only about 25 percent of applicants pass a polygraph test on the information they disclose in the questionnaire, which asks about past drug use and brushes with police.

The screening is considered the department’s primary means of evaluating integrity, Barnhardt said.

Applicants are often eliminated, he said, for telling the polygraph officer something they failed to reveal in their personal history statement, such as past use of marijuana. That’s why recruiters will often tell applicants to be entirely truthful in their statements, even if it means sharing something uncomfortable.

“A lot of times they’re disqualified not because of what they did in the past but because they lied about it,” Barnhardt said. “To us, integrity is huge. So once we determine they’ve lied, we can’t accept them.”


George W. Maschke
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Re: Only 1 in 4 Applicants Pass the Prince William County Police Pre-Employment Polygraph
Reply #1 - Oct 12th, 2017 at 8:01pm
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i passed the poly 2 times in 6 months
Im a police officer now in DC and have been for 3.5 years
they said I failed the psych...go figure
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Only 1 in 4 Applicants Pass the Prince William County Police Pre-Employment Polygraph

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