Normal Topic My PD Application and Failed Polygraph Story (Read 597 times)
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My PD Application and Failed Polygraph Story
Oct 28th, 2019 at 9:45am
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Hello. I have lurked here at AntiPolygraph.org now for a couple of years. That's how long my fail has bothered me. I've decided to come forward with my story not only to add a voice to the number of crushed hopes and dreams...but also to provide hope that one can fail and still be successful in law enforcement; you just do not give up.

A little about me; I'm a 24 year old male, 6 feet tall, very fit, a school drop out my first year of high school, and I grew up in the middle of nowhere. I had no life experience to speak of. Me and my cousins' past time was tinkering on four-wheelers or cars, riding bikes, hunting... I've never done anything too, too bad. Sure, 140 mph on the interstate once, trespassing on abandoned properties with my cousins, shooting modified weapons, dodging trains, and such like that country boys do. But we never did anything overtly criminal and I've never stolen anything in my life. I consider myself to have high levels of integrity, and telling the truth all the time, every time, is a large part of that.

When I was 14 I quit school and started working for cash. When I was 21, I decided I had to do something with my life, so I applied at a local police department of a relatively large city about an hour from where I grew up (about a 350 officer force). I was selected to continue in the process and received an email with the pre-employment investigation packet. When I turned it in, they told me I had to have a high school diploma.  I have an IQ of 135. I passed the GED test without studying, and I sent the packet back to the hiring sergeant less than a month later.

Now, I've never been fired from a job, or written up. I had zero criminal history or activity to disclose. The hiring sergeant told me he found it odd and almost unbelievable, but that given my history and where I grew up, he believed me. I moved forward with all departmental testing and the PT test. I was the best out of all 14 candidates by a large margin in both written assessments and physical fitness. I can't lie and say the sergeant didn't show me preferential treatment. He was impressed and he didn't do a good job of hiding it. I went before the council and they approved me. I thought I was hired. Then I was told I had one last step before police academy. The polygraph test.

I was nervous and scared big time. I knew I had nothing to be nervous about, but I really didn't know anything about polygraphs. I was told 'just tell the truth exactly and you'll be fine. Make sure it lines up with what you told me in your pre-employment packet'. Okay. I can do that. Whoo. I got this. The appointment was for 8 AM in  my state's capitol city, the state government's version of the FBI. An hour and a half's drive. I got up very early, and unfortunately, I downed a LOT of coffee that morning. I had no idea that caffeine can affect these tests. I was never told that by anyone, nor was I asked about caffeine consumption. I arrived at the building. It was large and intimidating. I walked into the front lobby and sat there for almost an hour with other young men and a young woman like myself waiting to be tested. Finally, my name was called, and a young female agent walked out. She introduced herself and shook my hand. She was very quiet and soft-spoken. She almost had the air of a nurse leading you back to an exam room. The room was the size of a hospital exam room, actually. It was too cold. Way, way too cold. She told me a bit about herself, and said she had 2 years experience as a polygraph tester. She left me with a written pre-test that was 22 pages long. It basically asked me everything that was already in my pre-employment packet. This was annoying. She also made sure to place a video camera on the table in front of me on a mini tripod to record my features as I wrote, then she left the room. She instructed me to quietly place the pre-test in the drop box outside of the exam room door, and sit back down. I did as I was told. About 25 minutes later, she re-entered the room and took the camera away. She was gone for another 15 minutes. When she returned, she began setting up her computer and the chair I was to sit in. She explained she would do a dry test first, meaning without me being hooked up to the machine, and then she would do one with me hooked up. She began by having me write a number on a piece of paper. I chose '7'. Lucky, right? She filled in the other numbers and then told me to answer 'no' to the question 'did you write the number x' even when she got to the number 7. I did so. She told me it was to calibrate the machine so it would know when I was lying. She continually told me to relax. My hands were cold and trembling. I was already sweating a tad bit. She unhooked me from the machine and told me to go use the restroom and calm myself down before we continued or I would botch the test. I took the time to try to relax. For me, I did relax. I honestly did. I told myself that if this is what God wanted me to do, He'd get me there. I said a quick prayer and returned to the exam room. She hooked me back up. Oh, yeah. When she did, everything was fairly comfortable except one thing. The blood pressure cuff. It turned my whole arm blue and numb. I figured this was normal and did not question it, but the constant throbbing and pain was a huge distraction during the test. I was still trembling at the fingers a bit, but I knew this was due to the large amounts of coffee I had consumed that morning. She continued to tell me to stop moving and relax. The test itself was about 30 minutes. She asked if I had done, sold, manufactured, or trafficked drugs. She asked about 10 different ways. She asked if I had witnessed or participated in any form of child molestation or sexual abuse. She asked that about 10 different ways as well. She also briefly asked if I had viewed or produced or distributed child pornography. I got pretty upset at those questions. She told me 'you're having pretty strong reactions'. I confessed that when I was 18, I was dating my 14 year old girlfriend and we had sent pictures to each other at that time and had engaged in activity which is illegal. I further stated that that was years ago and those phones no longer existed and that we never had sex per se, that we believe in waiting until marriage. I was still dating this girl at the time of the test (she was then 17, and is also now my wife at age 21). The tester assured me that the point of those questions is obviously to make sure I am not a sexual predator and that girlfriends was not the focus. She re-asked the questions with that off of my chest, and said that was better. We continued on to violent felonies and other such things, like torturing animals, killing people, etc. She then returned to the drug questions and we briefly went over them again. She then asked if I wanted to overthrow the United States Government. She told me the test was complete and that she would be back in about 15 minutes with the results. The whole 15 minutes, I sat there on pins and needles, kicking myself for talking about my then underage girlfriend, kicking myself for being awkward and socially weird. I prayed the whole time. 15 minutes later, she returned looking really somber. She told me that unfortunately I had failed the test. My blood ran cold and I felt like throwing up. I could not believe that I had been 100% truthful and failed. I figured that I failed due to the sexual questions. I knew that wouldn't look good to my employer. I told her 'but I told the truth on everything.' She said 'well, sometimes that's what we tell ourselves, but...' I then asked what questions I failed on, and she told me it was the illegal drugs. She said particularly the manufacturing and distribution ones. I told her absolutely not. I never ever did drugs at all. Not even marijuana.  In fact, not even cigarettes! Sure, second hand smoke smelled nice and all, but I never once have tried cigarettes, weed, or alcohol at all. I told her that. The drug section was literally my most confident section! I knew there was no way at all I could have failed those questions. She said that there is nothing we can do, and then she stopped me right at the end of the hallway to the front and said "you know what? You seem like a good well intentioned kid, [my name]. But you should have told me the truth. The truth will set you free. Maybe law enforcement isn't the way you need to go." She walked me to the front and told me to have a good day and good luck at my department. I drove home crushed. Well intentioned??I immediately called my hiring sergeant. I told him what happened and he told me he would read the results and call me in to talk. 2 days later, I was at his desk talking to him. He told me he talked to the senior brass... and to the council. He told me because I was such a good candidate and he believed me, he tried to get them to put me through anyway. They would not. He shook my hand and wished me well. I was devastated. I thought I could never ever work in law enforcement in my state again. I asked him if I could apply elsewhere, and he told me I could, but that they would probably require me to put all other agencies I applied for. I still to this day feel that betrayal. I've never felt so accused and shamed in my life. Ever. The way she told me coldly that I should have told the truth. The way she wouldn't really listen and treated me like a child. I told my sergeant about the blood pressure cuff. Even he, a detective sergeant, told me that that did not sound right at all. I still talk to him to this day and he is a good friend and co-worker (the city in question is in the county I now work for).

I know many of you are still not in law enforcement to this day, or are still struggling to find a job. Or are going through hiring processes at other agencies. My hiring sergeant told me that day that he hates polygraphs because he has seen too many star applicants that very likely told the truth fail out all on the whims of a 'cop' who very likely has less experience being a cop than he does. I was lucky to find a job at the sheriff's department that has a need for about 400 deputies but had only 320. I've been on the force for 2 years, now. I was appointed FTO at age 24, only 1 year and 6 months into employment, and now at 2 years I am being transferred to special operations. To you guys who didn't try because the polygraph shut you down? It is possible to try again. It is possible to find agencies that don't do polygraphs. Mine, the sheriff's office, has permanently put polygraph testing out of it's hiring process per the Sheriff because of their failure rate. I know this doesn't apply to everybody, and I know you guys trying for the Federal ABCs don't have a chance like this, but if you are trying to be a local cop, just look around. Apply at multiple agencies. You will find one like I did. I applied to 5 after I failed my polygraph test at the prompting of that hiring sergeant. It only takes 1 to call you back. Just do it. You may not regret it. That sergeant told me of several guys he knows that have failed polygraphs before, only to pass them later. Just dust yourself off and try again. I know I didn't have an examiner shouting at me or anything like that, but the way she would smile sweetly and tell me I'm lying, treating me like a mom treats her son, was just as bad. Creepy, even. The process is sick. And shows on TV that rely on them for paternity testing and whether people abuse other people, or cheat on their spouse? They constantly say they're 99% accurate. That is so not true at all. I am a successful cop and I'm still upset by the results of that polygraph. I am now going to get involved and send letters to my law makers as well as an anonymous letter to my city's government to stop the practice. The physiological ramifications of a false failing especially if you're a completely innocent person is huge if it can affect somebody this long despite now being a cop. Thanks for reading.
  
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Re: My PD Application and Failed Polygraph Story
Reply #1 - Oct 28th, 2019 at 4:10pm
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Anonymous Deputy wrote on Oct 28th, 2019 at 9:45am:
then asked what questions I failed on, and she told me it was the illegal drugs. She said particularly the manufacturing and distribution ones.

Did you know that failing individual questions is not possible? They can only state an opinion of significant reactions for the overall exam. This person is a charlatan.
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: My PD Application and Failed Polygraph Story
Reply #2 - Oct 28th, 2019 at 4:46pm
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Quote:
Anonymous Deputy wrote on Oct 28th, 2019 at 9:45am:
then asked what questions I failed on, and she told me it was the illegal drugs. She said particularly the manufacturing and distribution ones.

Did you know that failing individual questions is not possible? They can only state an opinion of significant reactions for the overall exam. This person is a charlatan.


Voice of Reason,

You're mistaken about that. It's true that polygraph operators render a numerical score for a chart series (comprising multiple relevant questions) as a whole, but in arriving at that overall score, they also assign numerical scores for each relevant question. They routinely use this information to guide the focus of post-test interrogations.

I agree with your assessment that Anonymous Deputy's polygraph operator is a charlatan. But so, too, are all polygraph operators.
  

George W. Maschke
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Re: My PD Application and Failed Polygraph Story
Reply #3 - Oct 28th, 2019 at 7:47pm
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Anonymous Deputy wrote on Oct 28th, 2019 at 9:45am:
then asked what questions I failed on, and she told me it was the illegal drugs. She said particularly the manufacturing and distribution ones.

Did you know that failing individual questions is not possible? They can only state an opinion of significant reactions for the overall exam. This person is a charlatan.

She said that I showed deception during those particular questions. From what I understand, polygraphs are just that; a graph. A continuing line of data that is direct input from the sensory equipment they attach to your body. It would work similar to audio output (I'm a sound designer). In that case, in theory, you could mark off on the moving chart where you asked the question and where the response was and watch for alterations in the normal flow of patterns created by your body that could be an indication of lying. I contend that my examiner saw those alterations and interpreted them to be lying as per her (flawed) training. However, she clearly had the propensity to make decisions on those alterations that were not robotic decisions because I showed the same 'significant reaction' to the child pornography questions. I hate the mere thought of actual child porn and that combined with guilt over having sexted my then girlfriend when she was underage created those reactions. The only difference that may have caused her not to make an exception with the drugs was that I didn't admit to anything that would create false guilt as I've never touched anything closely related to drugs or substances at all. This doesn't excuse her failing me, but it's the only reason I could think of that justified failing me in her mind.
  
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Re: My PD Application and Failed Polygraph Story
Reply #4 - Oct 28th, 2019 at 8:27pm
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George W. Maschke wrote on Oct 28th, 2019 at 4:46pm:
You're mistaken about that.

I don't think so George. Yes, vertical spot scores are used, and the criterion for multiple issue exams requires just one vertical score to be -3 or less for the exam to be called SR. But, nowhere is it stated that this question was actually "failed", research does not support this. To use a negative vertical score to drive an interrogation is what makes this person a charlatan.
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: My PD Application and Failed Polygraph Story
Reply #5 - Oct 29th, 2019 at 1:50am
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Voice of Reason,

Polygraphic lie detection itself is not supported by research. It's a pseudoscientific divination ritual. That's what makes all polygraph operators charlatans.

In any event, the practice of deeming a subject to have "failed" specific questions is absolutely routine in the polygraph community.
  

George W. Maschke
Tel/SMS: 1-202-810-2105 (Please use Signal Private Messenger or WhatsApp to text or call.)
E-mail/iMessage/FaceTime: antipolygraph.org@protonmail.com
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Personal Statement: "Too Hot of a Potato"
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