Polygraph tests suggested for applicants! Lie detectors can weed out individuals whose psychological profiles mean they should never carry a badge or a gun!
According to the Boston Globe “new Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox will arrive this month to face daunting expectations. Mayor Michelle Wu’s selection of a commissioner who once suffered a near-fatal beating at the hands of Boston cops was meant to send a message about her commitment to police reform — and it did. But Cox and Wu are confronting a culture of police violence and corruption that is so entrenched it may prove to be intractable, unless they have new tools at their disposal. One useful tool that does not require a law or lengthy reform is implementation of pre-employment psychological screenings for police department applicants, which include the use of a polygraph.
The only people opposing this move are-you guessed it, Boston police officers! What people oppose is not the use of polygraph, which is used and has been used for many years to find out if potential officers are engaged in Illegal drug or medication use, including steroids. Use of alcohol. Falsification or minimization in your requested information. Arrests for anything other than minor traffic violations. What is opposed id the addition of questions about WHY the person applying wants to be an officer questions that will reveal if a candidate wants an excuse to use their gun in alive situation, is actually a member of a white supremacist organization or has a desire to show people from diverse communities that they need to understand who has the power. So what people should ask is why some would oppose a test revealing these motives and what are their names?
Although the science is questionable at best, polygraph testing continues to be popular in law enforcement and government agencies. More than the tests' alleged accuracy, this use seems to be because the fear of being caught in a lie is often enough to make people tell the truth.
People For the American Way is an organization that supports the use of polygraph in police hiring and is one of the first to suggest it is used to reveal those with implicit or racist biases against BIPOC communities. The ACLU surprisingly has officially been against polygraph tests in police hiring since the fifties when it was used primarily to keep officers of color off the force. Now this new use is shaking up police unions nationwide who in some localities may be forced to get rid of polygraph tests completely if they feel the need to protect their prejudicial racial dynamics.
Today, polygraphs are not admissible in court but can be used throughout the investigation process. Most private employers are banned from using polygraph tests for pre-employment screening or during employment due to the Employee Polygraph Protection act passed in 1988.
Public employers such as police departments, however, still have the ability to run pre-employment polygraph testing on potential employees. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have previously taken issue with the legitimacy of polygraph testing. In 2018, ACLU Senior Policy Analyst Jay Stanley wrote that polygraph testing is “pseudo-scientific.” They were opposed by a majority of police Departments nationwide but with this new use that opposition could fade away. quietly.
Officers Being Mandated To take Polygraphs to Weed Out Racists, Fascists and Thrill Seeking Aggressors. The APA Research Center at Michigan State University conducted a survey of police executives in the U.S. to determine the extent of, and conditions in which polygraph testing was being used for pre-employment screening. The survey sample included 699 of the largest police agencies in the United States, excluding federal agencies, and produced usable returns from 626 agencies, a response rate of 90%. The major results of the survey showed the following:
Among the respondents, 62% had an active polygraph screening program, 31% did not and 7% had discontinued polygraph screening, usually because of prohibitive legislation. These findings support the conclusion that a great majority of our largest police agencies do have a polygraph screening program in effect. These agencies employ, on average, 447 officers and service a population averaging 522,000 citizens.
They primarily use the polygraph to screen applicants for sworn positions; although, 54% also screen persons interested in non-sworn positions. Approximately 25% of the persons tested are disqualified from police employment based on the information developed during polygraph testing which, by the way, is used both to verify information provided in an application form and to develop information that cannot be uncovered by other means. Only a very small proportion (2%) of agencies use polygraph testing as a substitute for a background investigation. A rank ordered listing of topics covered during polygraph testing revealed that investigation of illegal drug usage, employment related dishonesty, and involvement in felonies are the most important.
When asked to indicate what their reasons were for using polygraph screening, the majority of the agencies indicated that it reveals information that cannot be obtained by other means. Closely following was the belief that polygraph testing makes it easier to establish background information, it deters undesirable applicants, and it is faster than other methods of selection. The three leading benefits of polygraph screening were that applications were more honestly completed; higher quality employees were hired; and there were fewer undesirable employees. Over 90% of these agencies expressed either moderate or high confidence in their polygraph screening program, and 80% of them reported that, in their experience, the accuracy of the testing ranged between 86%-100%. The only procedure that was considered to be as useful as polygraph screening was a background investigation; all others, including written psychological tests, psychological or psychiatric interviews, personal interviews, and interviews by a selection board were judged to be less useful. The additional questions proposed for applicants by municipalities makes psychological and hidden intentions to do or inflict harm more important than resume accuracy!