I'm writing because I found this site really informative and only wish I'd paid better attention to the testimonies on the Personal Statements page. And, also to add my testimony.
I have been living in the Pacific Northwest for about 2 years. The last 9 months, I have been working steadily as a "contract temp" or "permatemp" for a dotcom in Seattle. Sick of the perpetual delays in hiring me on permanent and giving me ANY sort of benefits, I recently applied for a Corrections Officer trainee position with King County Corrections, (formally named the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention).
I had had some dealings with the Corrections HR department in the past when I tried for a clerical temp position with them and was encouraged to try for the C.O. program. I was hesitant, but the HR people told me, with my mixed work background in both in-door (clerical) and out-door (U.S. Forest Service) jobs, I was a good candidate.
Reluctantly, I applied for the C.O. position and in August I went through the first of 6 steps for consideration in their program. I scored 90% on their written exam, which was dead simple. Next, I filled out a very long work history and background check application.
Finally, for step three, I was sent to Ball & Gillespie, a private polygraph contractor in Edmonds, WA, north of Seattle. Since I don't currently have a car, the "testing" took literally all day as it was 2 hours one-way by city bus. I was assured that the actual test would take an hour and a half tops. In reality, I was in this contractor's office for over three and a half hours.
The guy who tested me was painstakingly nice. I guess you could say he played the "good cop" though, I seriously doubt he or his partner have ever worked in law enforcement. They both sorta struck me as wannabes.
I spent over an hour in a stuffy waiting room under a surveillance camera filling out a form where I was supposed to list every single job I'd had since my 18th birthday. I'm 40! In the list, I was supposed to include everything I'd ever taken from an employer including: paper clips, pens, yogurt (it was a grocery), lattes, staples, etc. The next form I filled out was a "yes" or "no" questionaire for every conceivable crime including: kidnapping, rape, murder, extortion, international drug trafficking, prostitution, etc. I was a little alarmed when I got to those questions and said off hand to the tester: "Gee, I hope nobody who checked 'yes' to any of these will be working with me!"
Then the polygraph dweeb took me into one of his offices and we painstakingly went through the forms I'd just filled out, line by line. One of the questions asked whether "during the past three years" I'd been "present while marijuana was being used." I'd said "no." The tester said, "Come on, the Corrections Dept. is pretty progressive. They aren't looking for saints. And this is Seattle. Why don't we just say within the past 18 months?" I said "okay" and he edited that question and then had me initial his change.
He handed me still more forms and had me fill those out. Among them, was a medical history form. I had to list whether or not I'd ever been admitted to a mental institute (I haven't), whether or not I've ever been in therapy (I have -- so what!), and all drugs I'd ever been given or had prescribed. I had to list the number of times I'd been injected with morphine. I've had three surgeries in my life, morphine is routine. Prescribing Percocet, Vicodin or Valium for pain post-surgery is routine too. I dutifully listed everything. The "tester" then came back, read through the medical form and said, "Oh, I forgot! We don't even ask about medical history anymore." He then glanced at the form again and threw it in the trash.
When he finally strapped me into his silly polygraph machine, he assured me the actual "test" wouldn't last more than 12 minutes tops. Well, I timed it. I was strapped to that uncomfortable chair for 22 minutes. He continually told me to "breath normally" but "don't move." I was told not to sigh, sneeze or cough. The tester asked me about 50 questions, but two in particular, he asked me a half dozen times worded differently each time. The first was "have you ever engaged in or been present during a criminal sex act with a minor?" Well, I was told to list my complete history on the forms! Bottom line, when I was a senior in high school I had a boyfriend who was a sophmore ... over TWENTY years ago while I also was a minor! The other question he harped on shocked me and confused the hell out of me. He kept asking if I had ever committed an act of arson. ARSON?!!! I was so put off by the question, I practically jumped every time he asked me.
When it was finally over, I could tell by the way his "good cop" demeanor had slipped that he'd already decided I hadn't passed. I have since received notice from the Corrections Dept. that I did not pass.
I've written this as a warning to any other prospective applicants to the King County Corrections Dept. that they will be utterly wasting their time.
And as long as we're on the subject, King County Corrections has been in trouble for a long time. Most recently, a half dozen of their male C.O.s were suspended without leave for soliciting female inmates for sexual services. Recently, there's been some "mysterious" deaths at the jail. It looks like their hiring process is working swimmingly. They've got criminals guarding criminals. Who'd wanna work there? (http://www.seattleweekly.com/features/0532/050810_news_jail.php)
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