27 December 2002 "Scrap polygraph screening"
The Saipan Times has published a letter to the editor from AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke. Excerpt:
The CMNI Department of Public Safety's decision to require Police Academy applicants to take polygraph tests beginning January 2003 is a mistake. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has recently completed a detailed study of polygraph screening and found it to be completely invalid....
26 December 2002 "Auroran protests use of polygraph exams: Man wants probation requirement for tests thrown out"
Denver Post staff writer Ryan Morgan reports. Excerpt:
Thursday, December 26, 2002 - Ben Aragon swears he's telling the truth.
The polygraph machine he's hooked up to isn't so sure.
So Aragon, who has been taking polygraph exams since he was put on probation for sexually assaulting his girlfriend two years ago, is fighting the machine.
He's armed with a study issued by the National Academy of Sciences in October calling polygraphs junk science and urging the federal government to stop using the devices.
The Aurora man has to take the tests as a condition of his probation several times a year, but he wants that requirement thrown out. He has protested to his probation officers and shared the study with them.
"Ain't that wild, that they can't use it for national security or jobs at an airport, yet they're using it as a form of punishment?" Aragon asked.
One of the study's authors agrees with Aragon's assessment.
"It's an imprecise instrument," said Kevin Murphy, a professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. "There are circumstances where people tend to give it a lot more deference than they should, and this would be an instance of probably making high-stakes decisions on the basis of polygraph exams, which may not be the best idea."
24 December 2002 Controversy Continues Over Racial Slur At Police Station: Councilman Wants Officers To Take Lie Detector Tests
The following short article from the KETV website is cited here in full:
OMAHA, Neb. -- A racial slur found inside an Omaha police precinct has one city council member upset.
Councilman Frank Brown said he wants police to take a lie-detector test.
The slur was found on Thanksgiving Day inside the northeast precinct. Omaha city officials said the incident has been investigated.
Now the NAACP and Brown say the city's response is not enough.
"We should do all we can to find that person and punish that person no matter what the cost," Brown said.
Brown plans to introduce a resolution at the next council meeting. It calls on Police Chief Don Carey to require handwriting analysis or polygraph tests for officers.
Chief Carey told The Omaha World Herald that lie detector testing would be too costly and unreliable.
24 December 2002 Omaha, Neb. Councilman Seeks Polygraph "Tests" in Racial Slur Investigation
Omaha World Herald staff writer Karyn Spencer reports in an article titled, "Closer look into slur requested."
Councilman Frank Brown will ask the Omaha City Council to press for further investigation into who wrote a racial slur at a police precinct.
Brown said Monday he plans to introduce a resolution Jan. 7 asking the Police Department to use handwriting analysis and polygraph tests.
"They've got to find the author of this insensitive racial slur," said Brown, who thinks the person should be fired.
Chief Don Carey will wait to comment until the resolution is introduced, a police spokesman said Monday.
20 December 2002 Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: "Police Academy applicants to undergo lie test"
Saipan Tribune staff reporter Edith G. Alejandro reports. Excerpt:
The Department of Public Safety yesterday disclosed that applicants for the new batch of the Police Academy will undergo polygraph test in January 2003 prior to the release of the names of those who will be accepted to the institution.
Police Commissioner Edward Camacho and officer-in-charge for training and development Charlene Tudela said the department would only accommodate the Top 20 candidates for 2003 School Resources Officer, a program funded by the federal government.
In a media briefing held Friday morning, the DPS mentioned that, besides the lie detector test, Police Academy applicants will also undergo drug test, a requirement for incoming academy students.
"We will get 16 applicants from Saipan, two from Rota, and two from Tinian. We have a lot of applicants but we will be getting only the Top 20 students," explained Tudela.
The polygraph test will consist of a series of question that will determine the truthfulness of the applicant. How the students would fare in the lie detector test will be a major consideration in their entry to the federally funded program.
Tudela added that those who would pass the series of examinations will proceed with their seven-month, full-length training in the academy and a two-week training with the U.S. Department of Justice.
17 December 2002 "Police applicants face testing with polygraph"
Ryan Goudelocke reports for The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Louisana. Excerpt:
They're called "lie detectors" for a reason: For decades polygraph operators have claimed the ability to sniff out deception by asking searching questions and watching squiggly lines drawn on paper.
And it's a staple of crime fiction: Usually there's a harshly lit room where the machine operator glares at a trembling perp -- optionally smoking a shaking cigarette -- until he breaks down.
"It's kind of like the closer they get to the lie detector, the better their memory gets," Baton Rouge polygrapher Larry Carroll said.
In 1988, Congress prohibited private-sector employers from requiring polygraph tests as part of pre-employment screenings. Before then, Carroll said, 15 to 20 local firms offered polygraph tests. Now he's alone under "lie detectors" in the Yellow Pages.
Lawmakers left many exceptions, including government agencies at every level. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act virtually ended pre-employment polygraphing outside law enforcement and security-sensitive positions, such as nuclear power plant guards.
Recent research has cast doubt on even those uses, and at least one lawsuit is challenging their use by the federal government. But if you're looking for a job in local law enforcement, get ready to get hooked up to the lie machine.
"If we didn't feel it was useful, we wouldn't be doing it," East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Lt. Darrell O'Neal said.
The Sheriff's Office has two trained polygraphers; one administers tests, and another, among other job duties, reviews the results. Every job applicant is tested.
"If people put too much weight behind a polygraph, that might not be good," O'Neal said. "But it's a tool that's only part of a criminal or background investigation."
Both the State Police and Baton Rouge Police Department routinely administer polygraph tests to prospective employees, though State Police applicants can choose not to take the test.
In-house specialists at all three agencies give those tests and assist in criminal and internal investigations. You won't see polygraph results in a courtroom in a criminal trial.
Federal courts have upheld the right of local jurisdictions to exclude polygraphs from proceedings. In a 1998 opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas spoke for a U.S. Supreme Court majority when he wrote, "There is simply no consensus that polygraph evidence is reliable."
In October, a National Academy of Sciences panel released a review of literature on polygraph reliability in employment screening. Their conclusion: "(Polygraph) accuracy ... is insufficient to justify reliance on its use in employee screening in federal agencies."
17 December 2002 Polygraph "Testing" Ordered for Cameron County, Texas Jail Staff
Jennifer Muir and Emma Perez-Treviño report for the Brownsville, Texas Herald in an article titled, "Sheriff holds off on staff changes." Excerpt:
Administrative debates temporarily staved off Sheriff Conrado Cantu's plan to restructure a troubled county jail staff Monday, but Cameron County's top lawman said his department will continue considering options this week as his staff undergoes polygraph examinations.
"We are still debating," Cantu said in a telephone interview Monday.
"Administration got together this morning and we have several options we are going to look for. We have not yet gotten to an agreement. I can't comment any further."
Cantu told The Herald Friday that he would hold a news conference Monday to discuss a possible re-staffing of county jail operations, after drugs again were found inside the Carrizales-Rucker Detention Center in Olmito -- the latest incident in a string at the maximum-security facility, including investigations into sexual activity between guards and inmates, missing inmate funds and a jailer arrested in October on drug charges.
County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa could not be reached Monday to discuss Cantu's proposed changes but is expected to discuss a possible drug screening policy for jail staff at today's Commissioners Court meeting.
The District Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Department are conducting parallel investigations into the sexual allegations that include polygraph exams for jail employees.
Former Mercedes Police Chief Jose H. Flores III is conducting the tests for the sheriff. Flores currently is employed by Cameron County as a deputy constable in Precinct 7 and is a licensed polygraph examiner.
"I've been conducting the polygraph examinations for free, at no cost to the county because I am a county employee trying to help them out," he said, noting that he conducts the examinations after the regular workday.
The attorney representing a former sheriff's lieutenant who claims she was fired for blowing the whistle on the alleged activity objects to Flores' involvement. "It is well known that he is a crony of the sheriff," Richard Nuñez said Monday, the same day he filed a wrongful termination suit against the sheriff and Cameron County on behalf of ex-Lt. Hilda Treviño.
13 December 2002 Abdallah Higazy Sues FBI Polygrapher Michael Templeton
Associated Press writer Devlin Barrett reports in an article titled, "Wrongly Jailed Student Sues Agent, Hotel." Excerpt:
NEW YORK -- An Egyptian student wrongly jailed for a month as a suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks filed a $20 million lawsuit Thursday against the FBI agent who extracted his false confession.
Abdallah Higazy, 31, also sued the Hilton hotel chain and a former security guard for telling authorities an aviation radio was found inside Higazy's hotel room overlooking the World Trade Center soon after the terrorist attacks.
After he was taken into custody in December 2001, Higazy denied the radio was his, then "confessed" during a polygraph exam after Higazy said the agent threatened and intimidated him.
He was charged with lying to investigators but cleared days later when the radio's true owner, a pilot, returned to the hotel to retrieve the device.
"I want a public apology, a written apology," Higazy said Thursday.
Former hotel security guard Ronald Ferry pleaded guilty to lying to investigators when he told them he found the radio, which is used to communicate with commercial airline pilots, in a safe inside Higazy's room.
Higazy's lawyer, Robert Dunn, said they were considering filing additional claims against the federal government for its handling of the case.
The suit claims Michael Templeton, the agent who administered the lie-detector test, coerced the false confession from Higazy by threatening to make his family's life in Egypt "a living hell."
9 December 2002 "Case underscores pitfalls of voice analysis"
Staff writer Steven Mayer of the Bakersfield Californian reports. Excerpt:
When Escondido police questioned 14-year-old Michael Crowe in the days following the 1998 stabbing death of his 12-year-old sister, investigators used a Computer Voice Stress Analyzer during the interrogation.
The analyzer -- a lie detector of sorts used by an estimated 1,300 police agencies in the United States, including some in Kern County -- allegedly showed Michael was lying when he said he knew nothing about his sister's murder.
"Science is in our favor. Technology is on our side," detectives told the distraught teen-ager.
Although there was no physical evidence linking Michael to the crime, the boy eventually came to doubt his own memory. Over the course of several days of interrogation, police lied to him about finding his sister's blood in his room. But lying to suspects -- even about physical evidence -- is not against the law.
With the help of the voice-stress analyzer and police disinformation regarding evidence, Michael eventually broke down and confessed.
More than a year later, a judge threw out Michael's confession after his sister's DNA matched blood found spattered on the clothes of a mentally ill transient who was seen near the Crowe residence the night of the killing.
The case has since shed new light on police interrogation techniques, and raised serious concerns about the widespread use by police of the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer.
"It's voodoo science," said Kyle Humphrey, a criminal defense attorney in Bakersfield who also spent several years as a prosecutor in the Kern County District Attorney's Office.
Humphrey said the devices increase the chance that police will get a false confession, especially from immature or uneducated people who may be fooled into believing the devices are infallible.
"When you are told by police you failed the test, you are out of hope," he said. "I will not allow any client to participate in interviews using a voice-stress analyzer."
26 November 2002 "No Evidence Found to Back Student's Coercion Claim"
Los Angeles Times staff writer John J. Goldman reports. Excerpt:
NEW YORK -- The Justice Department has uncovered no evidence to corroborate an Egyptian student's allegations that an FBI polygraph examiner coerced him into confessing that he owned an aviation radio found near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, according to a report released Monday.
At the same time, the judge who ordered the inquiry cast doubt on the polygraph as a valid investigative tool.
Government prosecutors welcomed the Justice Department's finding, and they said no further action is necessary.
Robert S. Dunn, a lawyer representing Abdallah Higazy, subject of the report, labeled the finding "a craftily woven cloth of deceit and deception that was essentially a whitewash."
U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff called for the probe after prosecutors in January dropped charges of lying to investigators against Higazy, 30, a computer science student who was detained as a material witness in connection with the attack on the twin towers.
Higazy was released in January after a pilot notified authorities that he was the true owner of the radio.
A month later, a hotel security guard pleaded guilty to lying when he told the FBI that he found the radio in a locked safe in the room that Higazy, a student at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, occupied during the terrorist attack.
The guard, Ronald Ferry, 48, was sentenced to six months of weekends in a halfway house.
After these events, Rakoff ordered a report on how the FBI had gotten the confession from an innocent man.
Higazy charged that he was pressured into giving false information after the FBI polygraph examiner threatened that the lives of his family in Egypt and his brother in upstate New York would become a "living hell."
Higazy told interviewers from the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General that to save his family, he decided to confess falsely to owning the radio found in the Millennium Hilton Hotel.
He said he told the FBI agent administering the test that he gave three different versions of how he obtained the radio.
Higazy said he didn't inform his lawyer, or the government, about the alleged threat the day of the examination or the next day at a court hearing because he was afraid.
In a memorandum, Rakoff said that conflicts remain between Higazy's and the government's accounts of what happened in the polygrapher's office, and that the reports left unanswered a broader question.
That issue, the judge added, was "whether the government's continued reliance on such a doubtful investigatory tool as polygraph testing increases the possibility of false confessions."
25 November 2002 "Federal report clears FBI of coercion claim by Egyptian student"
CNN's Phil Hirschkorn and Deborah Feyerick report. Excerpt:
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A report unsealed by a federal judge Monday found no support for accusations that the FBI coerced a confession from an Egyptian exchange student who was detained last year in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks.
During a December 27 FBI lie detector test, the student, Abdallah Higazy, 31, admitted possessing a hand-held pilots' radio allegedly found in his hotel room across the street from the World Trade Center.
The radio, known as a transceiver, allows for pilots to communicate with other pilots in the air or with people on the ground. It later was determined to belong to another hotel guest.
According to the report unsealed by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, Higazy's denials that he had participated in the September 11 attacks registered as lies, leading federal prosecutors to charge him with one count of lying to federal agents and to keep him locked up for a month.
"Higazy's allegations that he was threatened or coerced by the polygrapher during the course of the polygraph examination remain uncorroborated," concludes the report, prepared by the staff of Manhattan U.S. Attorney James Comey, "No further action concerning this matter is warranted at this time."
The FBI's deliberate policy of not video- or audiotaping polygraph interrogations foreordains that allegations of threats or coercion by Bureau polygraphers will be virtually impossible to corroborate. The Higazy case speaks to the need for all interrogations to be recorded.
20 November 2002 "Testimony in Plymouth polygraph case weighed: Police officer, 2 officials await magistrate's ruling"
Tamara Race reports for the Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Massachusetts. Excerpt:
A clerk magistrate will rule early next week whether Plymouth Police Chief Robert Pomeroy and Town Manager Eleanor Beth should face criminal charges for forcing a police officer to take a lie-detector test or lose his job.
If convicted, the two would face a fine of $300 to $1,000 and forfeit their retirement pensions.
Because Plymouth police have a close working relationship with Plymouth court magistrates, from Falmouth District Court Assistant Clerk Magistrate Kenneth Halloran presided at yesterday's hearing on a criminal-complaint application filed by Patrolman Kevin Furtado.
Furtado, Pomeroy and police union president Paul Boyle testified yesterday. Beth was not present at the hearing.
Furtado says Beth and Pomeroy in 1999 forced him to take a polygraph test as a condition of employment, in the wake of an allegation that he molested two boys, 5 and 7 years old.
Furtado's attorney, Joseph Gallitano, told Halloran that such a request is illegal in the absence of a criminal investigation and that the criminal investigation conducted by former District Attorney Michael Sullivan had ended.
According to court records, the children's parents called their pediatrician after becoming concerned about statements made by the younger child.
The boy told his parents that Furtado had groped his genitals during horseplay in Furtado's pool. The boys, Furtado's children and Furtado were playing in the pool at the time. The pediatrician spoke with both boys and filed a report with the state Department of Social Services. Sullivan launched an investigation based on that report.
The boys were subsequently interviewed and videotaped by professional sexual assault counselors with the district attorney's office. During those interviews, the younger boy did not repeat the allegation he apparently made to the pediatrician.
''The district attorney in September wrote a letter to the chief saying the investigation was over and no charges would be filed,'' Gallitano said.
In November 1999, prior to Furtado's test, the boys' parents sent a letter to Pomeroy saying they believed nothing had happened to their sons and that the incident was exaggerated.
Sullivan turned the case back over to the police chief for administrative action only, Gallitano said.
''In all the case law, polygraphs are only allowed in the case of an ongoing criminal investigation,'' he said. ''It had to be done within the course of the criminal investigation, and the only action going forward at the time was administrative.''
Leonard Kesten, attorney for Pomeroy and Beth, said the chief had no intention of breaking any laws in asking Furtado to take the test.
''He read the case law and sought advice from the district attorney and town counsel before taking action,'' Kesten said.
Pomeroy said he obtained immunity for Furtado as requested by police union attorney William Strauss and then reiterated his demand that the officer take the test or lose his job.
''No one objected to the test after Kevin Furtado received immunity from prosecution,'' Kesten said. ''We wouldn't be here if he had passed the test.''
Pomeroy indicated that he ordered the test to get some assurance that Furtado was innocent and to protect the town from future liability if the parents of the children had a change of heart and decided to sue.
Furtado was given two tests, one for each of the children, Pomeroy testified. He said a written report of the test results stated that Furtado's answers to ''pertinent'' questions were ''deceptive.''
19 November 2002 "Is this lie detector telling the truth?"
Christina Lewis reports for Court TV. Excerpt:
(Court TV) — Richard Allen Nicolas' story seemed suspicious. An unknown gunman shot at his car, killing his 2-year-old daughter, Aja. Plus, police found that his muffler was cold, although Nicolas said he had been parked a short time.
But police had little hard evidence against Nicolas until he was hooked up to a computer voice stress analyzer (CVSA), a machine designed to detect lies by monitoring small vibrations in a person's voice, and failed the test. He confessed.
Nicolas is now serving life in prison without parole for his daughter's murder.
To hear some police officers tell it, the CVSA, a laptop device designed to detect lies by monitoring a person's voice, is the greatest thing since handcuffs.
Imagine: no need to corner a suspect, attach multiple wires to him and have an expensive professional ask him a number of specific control questions. To use the voice stress analyzer, police just play a tape of the suspect talking, run it through the $10,000 laptop, and find out if he's truthful. So easy to use, the CVSA can surreptitiously verify the honesty of prospective employees, ferret out fraudulent insurance claims, and resolve disputes when it's one person's word against another's. Or so its creators say.
According to the National Institute for Truth Verification, the Palm Beach-based company that makes and markets the CVSA, you simply attach a microphone to the subject (or to the tape recorder or phone line), run the sounds into the device and get your results.
The device monitors the frequency of "micro-tremors," vibrations in the voice undetectable to human ears, that increase when a person lies. While the subject is speaking, the CVSA measures and displays any changes in the vibrations.
For each voice pattern the machine shows a graph: a high peak denotes a true statement, while a jagged plateau indicates a lie.
Approximately 1,200 law enforcement agencies use the CVSA, and supporters say that its convenience and accuracy will lead more departments to let their polygraphs, the more well-known truth verifier, start collecting dust.
But not everyone is enthusiastic about it. In at least a few high-profile cases, the device has appeared to be wrong. And a number of lawyers, civilians and scientists say the CVSA has no scientific validity.
"It's basically a Ouija board," said Nevada lawyer Ian Christopherson, who successfully defended a juvenile probation officer against a rape charge prosecuted largely on the basis of a voice stress test.
Christopherson's client, Vincent Sedgewick, took a CVSA test assuming it would clear him. Instead, it pointed to him as the rapist. When DNA testing did not match him to the sample recovered from the victim, however, police arrested him as an accessory based on the CVSA results. Although CVSA tests cannot be used as evidence in court, in some states to support an indictment.
Critics of the CVSA say that officers' belief in the infallibility of the lie detector is one of its greatest dangers.
In the case of 14-year-old Michael Crowe, a California teen who confessed to his older sister's murder, investigators administered a CVSA that allegedly showed Crowe was lying when he claimed to know nothing about his sister's murder. Although there was no physical evidence linking Michael to the crime, investigators continued interrogating him after his voice stress test and got him to confess. A judge later through out his confession, and another man was charged with the crime.
"If you take a look at the Crowe case you have police relying upon this quackery directing their investigation in the wrong direction," Christopherson said. "That's why it's incredible law enforcement allows this out there because people start believing that this device can actually be accurate."
17 November 2002 Australia: "ASIO polygraphs 'unreliable'"
Political correspondent Brendan Nicolson reports for The Age. Excerpt:
Lie detector tests being carried out on officers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation were not scientifically proven, and could be beaten by real spies and incriminate innocent officers, the Federal Opposition has warned.
Labor's justice spokesman Daryl Melham told The Sunday Age that the polygraph, or lie detector, was very controversial technology that could cause serious injustice.
The polygraph is an instrument which measures the automatic responses of the nervous systems of people being questioned. It works on the basis that when people tell a lie, uncontrollable changes are apparent in their blood pressure, pulse rate and respiration. Tension is also reflected as minor shocks measurable on the skin.
Following the arrest in 1999 of a former Defence Intelligence Organisation officer Jean-Philippe Wispelaere after he tried to sell highly classified material to a foreign government, the Federal Government ordered a review of security procedures in departments which handled highly classified material.
The review was carried out by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Bill Blick, who made more than 50 recommendations designed to tighten procedures.
These included a suggestion that staff of intelligence agencies should be subject to psychological testing, financial checks and random bag searches.
In September 2000 Attorney-General Daryl Williams announced that ASIO had agreed to undertake an internal and voluntary trial of polygraph tests "to evaluate the potential of the tests as a personal security tool".
Mr Williams said he could not provide further details because of the matter's sensitive nature.
In August this year Mr Melham asked Mr Williams a series of questions on the trial's progress including the number of officers subjected to lie detector tests, how many passed or failed and if any were charged or demoted as a result.
Mr Williams responded late last month that he still could not give details but he said the trial was still in progress.
Mr Melham said the ASIO trial was not an acceptable basis on which to consider such a controversial and questionable security measure.
Australian courts refused to admit lie detector information as evidence and use of the device was illegal in New South Wales.
Mr Melham said the government had not ruled out more extensive use of polygraphs to security check all Commonwealth staff with access to national security information. He said any trial should be carried out in the open with independent scientific scrutiny.
11 November 2002 "Calgary to use lie detectors to test would-be firefighters"
Dawn Walton reports for the Globe and Mail. This short article is cited here in full:
CALGARY -- Calgary firefighter recruits will be put through the paces their crime-fighting counterparts have been subjected to for years -- polygraph tests.
Polygraph machines, popularly known as lie detectors, are used when recruits are being interviewed by fire departments in the United States, but it is believed this will be a first in Canada, Calgary Fire Department Captain John Conley said.
"What we're trying to do here is just make sure that our background checks, our references and stuff like that are 100-per-cent accurate," he said. "This is one way of assuring that."
The machines, long used by governments and law-enforcement agencies around the world, measure breathing, perspiration rate and blood pressure to determine subjects' truthfulness when answering questions.
Questions to be asked of would-be Calgary firefighters are not yet determined. The department plans to work with the polygraph unit at the Calgary Police Service to administer the tests, Capt. Conley said.
Some U.S. fire departments have embraced the machines to ward off lawsuits between employers when false resumé information is provided for background checks.
Calgary has considered using polygraph machines for about a year but not because it wants to avoid legal action, Capt. Conley said. Rather, the city wants to discover whether a recruit has a propensity to fib, he said.
However, Calgary has decided to use the polygraph as the technology is coming under fire. The American Academy of Sciences recently concluded that the tests are inaccurate, vague and flawed. Researchers attributed part of the blame for the faulty test results to too-high thresholds set by interrogators.
The U.S. government sponsored the study, and its authors are pushing politicians to phase out the machines' use. But some police forces balk at that.
Calgary fire officials said that next year the polygraph tests would become part of its five-month application and testing procedure for recruits. Would-be firefighters will be told about the tests up front.
6 November 2002 San Diego Police Department Polygraph Failure Rate Pegged at 40%
In an article titled, "Long arm of the law reaches out for help," San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer Shanna McCord reports on the SDPD pre-employment polygraph failure rate. Excerpt:
And then there's a lie detector test, which weeds out a large number of applicants.
"Number one for us is honesty," said Stacee Botsford, a recruiter for the San Diego Police Department, which operates with 2,100 sworn officers. "We can't take anyone who lies or tells half-truths or omits information."
Botsford says 40 percent of San Diego police applicants - 2,300 a year for about 100 to 150 openings - fail the lie detector test.
6 November 2002 "Charges sought over polygraph: Plymouth officer says he was forced to take test over abuse claim"
Tamara Race reports for the Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Massachusetts. Excerpt:
PLYMOUTH - A police officer is seeking criminal charges against Police Chief Robert Pomeroy and Town Manager Eleanor Beth, saying they illegally forced him to take a lie detector test or lose his job.
Police officer Kevin Furtado was placed on paid leave in July 1999 pending an investigation by then-Plymouth County District Attorney Michael Sullivan into an allegation that he inappropriately touched two young boys during a pool party at a friend's house.
Sullivan's investigation ended two months later with no charges filed. Pomeroy then launched his own investigation and ordered Furtado to take a lie detector test after receiving immunity from criminal prosecution.
Furtado was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing and returned to work in January 2000.
His lawyer, Joseph Gallitano of Plymouth, asked the court Friday to file criminal charges.
''I'm not in this to crucify anyone,'' Gallitano said. ''I'm in this for the small guy who's been wronged. I'm fighting for my client. The town's attorney refused to even talk about a settlement, so I took the next step.''
State law prohibits an employer from forcing an employee to submit to a lie detector test as a condition of employment, but such tests are allowed during a criminal investigation.
Gallitano, citing the grant of immunity, said the criminal investigation was over and Pomeroy had no right to demand the polygraph test.
''He (Pomeroy) had already given my client immunity from any kind of criminal prosecution,'' Gallitano said. ''How, then, can he claim he was conducting a criminal investigation?''
Beth, as Pomeroy's boss, is also implicated since she knew of and condoned the test, Gallitano said.
If convicted, Beth and Pomeroy could face fines of $300 to $1,000, and be required to forfeit their retirement pensions.
According to state law, anyone convicted of violating a law applicable to the person's office or position is not entitled to a retirement allowance but would receive any money he or she paid into the system, without interest.
In addition to seeking the criminal charges, Furtado is suing Pomeroy, Beth and four selectmen for $350,000 in connection with the incident, which he says damaged his reputation and caused severe mental distress and financial harm.
With treble damages, interest and attorney's fees, the award could top $1 million, Gallitano said.
4 November 2002 Calgary, Alberta: "Recruits face lie detector"
Peter Smith reports for the Calgary Sun. Excerpt:
All potential firefighter recruits in Calgary in future must take a lie detector test to prove their credentials are genuine before they can join the department.
Following a practice carried out by several fire departments in the U.S., Calgary will introduce the polygraph as the first specialized equipment recruits will encounter.
"This is all part of our reference checking system," said Fire Capt. John Conley.
"In the States, they had some incidents where information recorded on applications wasn't accurate, so the polygraph is being introduced to make sure applicants are being truthful."
Conley said the fire department was working with city police introducing the lie detector tests.
Although the next set of recruits in Calgary will be the first being required to take the polygraph, the preparations getting it in place have been under way for a long time, said Conley.
"Our recruits are always of a very high standard, and using the polygraph will ensure we continue to get the best of the best," he said.
Conley denied the timing of the introduction of the lie detector test had any connection with a scandal which broke last week when the Sun revealed a then-serving firefighter -- who has since resigned -- was charged with prostitution and pimping charges.
Former firefighter Doug Eastaugh, 37, resigned after being charged with 10 pimping-related offences in connection with an escort agency.
Eastaugh told the Sun his resignation wasn't an indication of guilt, but an effort on his part to maintain the integrity of the fire department.
"Preparations for the introduction of the polygraph were under way long before that incident, and there is no link whatever between the two," said Conley.
Recruits wishing to join the Calgary Police Service have been required to take lie detector tests for many years.
3 November 2002 Canada: "The truth about Mountie wannabes: Funding the main drawback as RCMP ponders using polygraph tests to help get the straight goods on recruits"
John Steinbachs reports for the Ottawa Sun. Excerpt:
Every year, thousands of hopeful RCMP recruits face a battery of tests and background checks in their quest to wear the red serge.
Now, the federal police force is considering using lie detectors to make sure recruits have the integrity to be a Mountie.
Internal proposals to make the polygraph test a mandatory part of the RCMP hiring process have been put forward to RCMP senior management, although one of the major stumbling blocks appears to be funding concerns.
If approved, the task of screening new RCMP applicants would be the largest polygraph program ever attempted in Canada.
The Mounties are looking to hire about 1,000 officers a year for the next several years. To get that many qualified candidates, the force might need to test 2,500 applicants a year, says Staff Sgt. Bob McMillan, head of the RCMP's truth verification section.
He believes the number of applicants will remain high until word of the polygraph test spreads.
"When people start realizing the program is there, unsuitable people will probably drop off," McMillan says.
As in all pre-employment polygraph examinations, the test would not be used to draw out admissions from candidates, but to ensure candidates are telling the truth about their lives.
"We need to know people are going to be truthful up front in the application process, because that's what gives us the confidence that people are going to also be truthful when it comes to things like court," says McMillan.
"I'd like to see it up and running tomorrow. It's very big, and it's all really dependent on when and if the funds are released to us. Once they're released we'll be able to put things into high gear."
The force will likely have to contract out some of the testing, but McMillan says there are many highly qualified polygraphers in Canada who would likely be available for the job.
"We've been looking at it for a number of years and it's just taken this long to get our ducks in a row and get over all the issues that have been brought forward by the legal people."
If the RCMP goes forward with the polygraph proposal, it will be joining police forces in eastern and western provinces that already use the test to ensure the truthfulness of candidates. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service also uses the tests.
In Ontario, the use of polygraph tests on police candidates contravenes the Employment Standards Act.
The Calgary Police Service was one of the first forces to introduce the polygraph as a pre-employment test 31 years ago. Both sworn officers and civilian employees must be given a test before they can be hired.
Calgary police conduct about 450 tests every year, says Det. Wally Musker, one of the polygraphers who carries out the three-and-a-half-hour tests.
"I think we do more in Canada than anyone," says Musker. "What we're dealing with is people who have been screened through 14 prior (employment screening) steps and then what we do is provide them with a polygraph test to verify the information they've provided throughout the hiring process."
Long before the polygraph is administered, test applicants must pass through several checks including physical, psychological and criminal. They are also required to answer a series of questions about everything from traffic tickets to drug use.
They're also asked whether they believe they have ever committed an offence for which they have not been convicted.
"The questions are very specific; there's nothing left up to chance," says Musker, who also trains others in how to administer pre-employment tests.
Despite polygrapher Wally Musker's representations to the contrary, relying on pseudoscientific polygraph "testing" is leaving a lot to chance.
AntiPolygraph.org Home Page > Polygraph News