Date: January 3, 2001
To: Board of Civil Service Commissioners
From: Margaret M. Whelan, General Manager
Subject: PRE-EMPLOYMENT POLYGRAPH EXAMINATION FOR ENTRY LEVEL POLICE OFFICER AND POLICE SPECIALIST CANDIDATES
Recommendation: That the Board of Civil Service Commissioners:
Background: In 1997, the Board of Civil Service Commissioners (BOCSC) contacted the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) regarding whether they desired the administration of a polygraph examination to all Police Officer and Police Specialist candidates. The inquiry from the BOCSC was made to address their concern that background investigations may not truly reflect a candidate's prior conduct if the candidate was not forthcoming with information during the background investigation. As part of LAPD's 2000-2001 budget, the necessary funds were approved for the implementation of polygraph examinations for all Police Officer and Police Specialist candidates. The LAPD anticipates implementing the administration of mandatory pre-employment polygraph examinations for all candidates effective February 12, 2001.
Discussion: In accordance with BOCSC Policies of the Personnel Department, the residents of the City of Los Angeles have the right to expect that Police Officers are individuals of the highest caliber and integrity, who have demonstrated by their past conduct that they can uphold and enforce the law fairly and impartially within the scope of their authority. Consequently, it is imperative that all available investigative tools be employed to assess the honesty and integrity of candidates applying for these positions, including the expanded use of polygraph examinations.
The administration of mandatory pre-employment polygraph examinations to screen all police officer candidates is widely used by law enforcement agencies. In October 1999, the Administrative Investigation Section (AIS) of the LAPD conducted a survey of 61 local law enforcement agencies, to determine if they administer polygraph examinations to all Police Officer candidates as part of their background investigation process. Of the 61 agencies surveyed,
50 (82%) agencies polygraph all candidates on all areas covered under their background standards.
To ensure that the City of Los Angeles Police Officer and Police Specialist candidates meet the background standards set forth by the BOCSC, it is recommended that the BOCSC adopt the proposed revision to Policy 1.13 of the Policies of the Personnel Department. This revision will include the use of mandatory polygraph examinations for all Police Officer and Police Specialist candidates (Attachment 1).
Under the new mandatory pre-employment polygraph examination process, a candidate will participate in the polygraph examination at least one day after their initial background interview with AIS. On the day of the polygraph examination, the candidate will participate in a pre-test interview which will be conducted by the polygraph examiner. The purpose of the pre-test interview is to resolve any issues that may cause the candidate confusion when responding to the questions that will be asked during the polygraph examination. For those candidates who are found to be deceptive during the initial polygraph examination, a second examination will be immediately administered, focusing on the issue(s) of concern. As a result of this process, candidates who do not meet the Police Officer Background Standards will be disqualified in the background investigation.
Current Use of Polygraph Examinations
Policy 1.13 of the Policies of the Personnel Department (Attachment 2) currently provides for the administration of polygraph examinations during the background investigation for Police Officer and Police Specialist candidates if the following conditions arise:
The use of polygraph examinations to address the above instances that arise during the course of a background investigation will continue.
Delegation of Authority to the General Manager
To facilitate the processing of background disqualification appeals based on the results of all polygraph examinations administered by the Los Angeles Police Department, staff recommends that the BOCSC delegate to the General Manager the authority to make the final decision on background disqualification appeals based on polygraph results that were either deceptive, or inconclusive due to the use of counter-measures, or the candidate failed to cooperate during the course of the examination.
Delete From Policy 1.13B.b. the Use of Independent Polygraph Examinations
Due to the use of mandatory pre-employment polygraph examinations for all candidates and the delegation of authority to the General Manager as discussed above, staff believes that reference to the use of independent polygraph examinations should be deleted from Policy 1.13B.b. (Attachment 3). Under this policy, candidates being considered for disqualification due to their polygraph examination results have the option to participate in an independent polygraph examination.
Independent polygraph examinations are administered at the candidate's own expense and can only be administered by polygraph examiners approved by the Personnel and Police Departments. Currently less than 3 independent polygraph examinations are requested by candidates each year. When they are conducted, a member of the Police Department's Scientific Investigation Division should be present at the examination to ensure the authenticity of the polygraph materials and to ensure that proper techniques are used. With the advent of mandatory polygraph examinations for all Police Officer and Police Specialist candidates, it will no longer be administratively feasible to provide candidates with the ability to pariticipate in an independent polygraph examination. Moreover, by delegating to the General Manager the authority of reviewing all background disqualification appeals based on the results of polygraph examinations, the General Manager will have the option, as deemed necessary, of requesting that the LAPD conduct another polygraph examination on specific areas of concern.
Conclusion: To ensure that the City of Los Angeles is hiring the best qualified candidates as Police Officers and Police Specialists, staff recommends that the BOCSC adopt the recommendations set forth in this report. In so doing, staff believes the City will have the benefit of an important investigative tool to assess the background qualifications of Police Officer and Police Specialist candidates.
Submitted by: [signed]
Reviewed by: [signed]
Phyllis M. Lynes
Approved by: [signed]
Margaret M. Whelan
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