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Lost Faith in the Poly....

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  • Lost Faith in the Poly....

    There are many old posts on these forums about the polygraph.
    As an investigator for many years, I have relied on them as a tool to exonerate or help get a confession in the post interview.

    "An investigator I know" was sent to another department (at the departments & DAG request) to investigate an officer for a criminal accusation done outside the scope of his employment.
    A civilian suspect confessed to a theft, but stated he sold the property to the officer, who supposedly knew the property was stolen.

    All investigative leads pointed to the officer having absolutely no involvement: didn't know about it, didn't buy it... period. From many interviews, to search warrants for several peoples recent-to-the theft cell phone data, nothing at all was found to establish ANYTHING. In fact, the accuser was found to have an axe to grind against this officer for a prior arrest AND involvement with an ex-wife. He would not take a poly.

    The DA requested the officer be asked to take a polygraph.
    He consented.
    He failed. Badly.

    I can tell you this:
    It was a thorough and competent investigation. The officer was a yearling, a good record, criminal justice major, but very green in "life" experiences; a hayseed farm boy, so-to-speak.

    He is officially cleared, but not after allegations, suspension, and being talked to like a mope in the post interview by the examiner.

    I'm just curious as to the thoughts of those of you who have used the poly in their investigations, as it relates to the case above.
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  • #2
    I have a smidge of faith in Polygraphs, but I could never ever put any real weight on their results. One particular problem that I've seen with Polys - in relation to LE - is that their use in employment screening is always hit or miss. I've seen quite a few cases where candidates passed them, became LEOs, and then got busted for and confessed to something heinous - that they had been doing for years - that should have flagged on a test. Some people just know how to beat the machines, but we've all seen reports of people failing and then passing with flying colors after consecutive tests. It's just not something that can be depended on, IMO.

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    • #3
      Why would he consent to a poly? His lawyer allowed that?
      I make my living on Irish welfare.

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      • #4
        Over my career I worked with a lot of poly operators. Each one told the same story. At first they believed their machines were infallible at determining the truth and could not be beat. In the end, they all came to realize they were worthless devices that measures one's physiological response to a question, which may be indicative of truthfulness, or may be indicative of a related emotional response that had nothing to do with whether they answered the question honestly.

        I always laughed when poly operators told someone the machine said they answered all the questions truthfully except for the last one, which was, "Have you been deceptive in answering any of these polygraph questions?" I was just waiting for the applicant to bend over and whisper in the poly operator's ear, "The poly says I didn't lie, but that I did lie. It looks like you machine has just impeached it's own credibility. Are you going to do the right thing here and notify the department your machine is inaccurate, or is this a test to see if I report you?"
        Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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        • #5
          Ha! That is a good one L-1.

          All the good polygraph operators at my former agency, where we had a large unit that did them, would acknowledge the real strength of the machine lies in the operators interrogation skills. Particularly post-examination. The veteran agents, non-polygraph, felt the same way too.

          And while the agency relied on it in pre-employment as a tool, there are some good reasons to be very skeptical of the tool for pre-employment examinations. Of course, the end of test interview was always critical in demonstrating value or not.

          With the polygraph its value is not in the machine, it is the skill of the examiner.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by reils49 View Post
            Why would he consent to a poly? His lawyer allowed that?
            Agree Reils, but that was his call, probably because he knew he was innocent.
            He was cleared and back at work, thankfully.

            On a side note, I have never worked in that capacity before- hope to never do it again. It hurt, but thank goodness for a good outcome.
            SUPPORT COP RUN BUSINESSES!!
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            In 2017, the sales of my LEO related decals allowed me to donate over $350. to LE/ Military related charities... THANK YOU!!! Check them out HERE...

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            • #7
              The whole concept of a polygraph is bizarre to me. I wouldn't rate any evidence they obtain when there is not a scientific consensus on their effectiveness.

              They aren't admissible as evidence here to my knowledge.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Mulgrave600 View Post
                The whole concept of a polygraph is bizarre to me. I wouldn't rate any evidence they obtain when there is not a scientific consensus on their effectiveness.

                They aren't admissible as evidence here to my knowledge.
                They can't be used as evidence here either.
                My experience with them is like others have said, their usefulness is in the expertise of the examiner but can't be relied on too heavily.
                Train for tomorrow, for you never know what it will bring to the fight.
                In the school of Policing, there is no graduation day.

                Arguing on the internet, is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while you realize that while you are getting dirty, the pig is actually enjoying it.
                Do Not Disturb sign should read, Already Disturbed Proceed With Caution.
                Even if the voices aren't real, They have some really good ideas.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by GApolice View Post
                  Ha! That is a good one L-1.

                  All the good polygraph operators at my former agency, where we had a large unit that did them, would acknowledge the real strength of the machine lies in the operators interrogation skills.
                  Particularly post-examination. The veteran agents, non-polygraph, felt the same way too.

                  And while the agency relied on it in pre-employment as a tool, there are some good reasons to be very skeptical of the tool for pre-employment examinations. Of course, the end of test interview was always critical in demonstrating value or not.

                  With the polygraph its value is not in the machine, it is the skill of the examiner.
                  Yep. It is a TOOL that is only as good as it's operator.

                  That is why in my area the guys/gals that are sent to school are proven investigators prior to being sent.



                  I can remember early in my career I was transporting a prisoner to the state capitol to have a polygraph by the State CID. I was working for the DOC at the time and this inmate was involved in a stabbing at my prison. We used polygraphs a lot back in the mid 1970's and always used the CID guys (called Division of Criminal Investigation--here) .

                  We got done with the exam-----------which officially was inconclusive-----------and headed back across the state to the prison when the inmate smiled and proudly proclaimed to myself and our investigator -------------" I lied my arse off---and you can't prove it now"

                  Well THAT statement got him convicted of the crime.................but It proved to me the polygraph was not omniscient.

                  A year or so later I was "on the box" for employment as a deputy sheriff.........................it was interesting being on the other side but the examiner was very good and explained everything ---including the theory.

                  I am a believer--------------as long as the examiner is seasoned
                  Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                  My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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                  • #10
                    A real polygraph is probably as good as the one in this scene.

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJ5aIvjNgao

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by GApolice View Post
                      With the polygraph its value is not in the machine, it is the skill of the examiner.
                      This right here.

                      I hold Master and Advanced certifications in VSA, the newer first cousin to polygraph.

                      The machines are interview tools, nothing more. Any reliance on the actual results of the machines is lazy and highly suspect. I can usually tell if a person is lying on a particular question without ever looking at the charts. To be honest, the charts are there to convince the suspect that we know more than we actually do.

                      Don't even get me started on their use in pre-employment....
                      Originally posted by kontemplerande
                      Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SRT936 View Post
                        I can usually tell if a person is lying on a particular question without ever looking at the charts. To be honest, the charts are there to convince the suspect that we know more than we actually do.
                        The guy that did my pre-employment poly back in 1978 explained to me HIS procedure which included watching me from the moment I checked in at the office for the appointment

                        Watching how many times I fidgeted, crossed my legs, and smoked (yea you could still smoke inside the building then----I wasn't a smoker then) He then explained the scientific study he was involved in with some (I can't remember the details now) major university concerning the correlation between body language and polygraph results.

                        He agreed with you that he usually knew the result even before looking at the chart.................

                        He sat there and showed me exactly where I "lied" to him---------then told me he would enjoy working with me in the future . We became friends over the next few years even though we were not in the same agency.
                        Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                        My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Lost Faith in the Poly
                          I'm amazed you put any faith in a polygraph whatsoever.

                          They aren't admissible in court for a reason...

                          The INTERVIEWER, perhaps... but not the machine.
                          "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                          "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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                          • #14
                            I never had any faith in them to begin with.

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                            • #15
                              Funny story about the "lie detector".
                              Back in the 70s my old LT. worked in LA (Lower Arkansas) which has a large population of uneducated folks. He would have a suspect hold the tip of his units mobile radio (when they were 100 watts) while field interviewing them. When he knew they were lying to him he would key up the mic and they would get a mild shock. He would tell them that is a lie detector and you're lying, they would change the story.

                              Of course he would marry folks that he caught fornicating with the Arkansas Act 300 book (Traffic laws) and they believed they were married too. No wonder his nickname was the Tramp.
                              Train for tomorrow, for you never know what it will bring to the fight.
                              In the school of Policing, there is no graduation day.

                              Arguing on the internet, is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while you realize that while you are getting dirty, the pig is actually enjoying it.
                              Do Not Disturb sign should read, Already Disturbed Proceed With Caution.
                              Even if the voices aren't real, They have some really good ideas.

                              Comment

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