Sun | Sep 24, 2017

‘A bunch of liars’ - Several recruits kicked out of police training school after failing lie-detector tests

Published:Sunday | December 27, 2015 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson
Police constables during a graduation ceremony at the Jamaica Police Academy in Twickenham Park, St Catherine.

A large number of persons trying to join the police force have been rejected after failing polygraph (lie detector) tests, which one senior officer has dubbed "a high-tech waste of time".

Police sources say in recent times almost 50 per cent of the applicants have failed the lie-detector test while they were at the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) training school in Twickenham Park, St Catherine, after responding to questions about their criminal background and social affiliations.

Those who fail the tests are barred from graduating at the end of the six-month training programme, and are deemed unfit and incompetent to professionally discharge the duties of a constable.

But a senior officer, who asked not to be named, has taken issue with the tests.

"Personally, I think polygraph is nonsense. If 50 per cent of those people fail the polygraph test, it simply means that something is wrong with the polygraph," said the senior officer.

"If they ask if you ever smoked ganja or stole something before and you say 'yes', the polygraph will probably say that you have failed that. But failing someone to join the JCF because they smoked ganja many years ago is just nonsense," added the senior officer.

He argued that there are better ways to weed out undesirables who want to join the Force.

 

SILLY METHOD

 

"It is more of a confessional than it is anything else. If something can't stand up in a court of law, it's all about the person administering the tests using very devious ways to get you to confess.

"We need to do better investigation, better background checks. That, in my mind, is a far superior method than trying to get people to confess. Worst of all, you wait until they come into the system to do polygraph and that again is just heights of 'silly billiness'," said the officer.

But that is a position not shared by Deputy Commissioner Clifford Blake, who has defended the psychometric and polygraph testing of new recruits in the past.

"We (JCF) have to be very cautious who we admit to join the police. Over the years, we have tightened our processing of recruitment to ensure that only the best and those willing to serve gain admittance," argued Blake.

Polygraph testing of recruits falls under the remit of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), but deputy director of that entity, Assistant Commissioner Selvin Hay, refused to comment on the number of persons not accepted ion the Force for failing the tests.

In the past, Hay has noted that polygraph testing is done in the Force for forensic or vetting purposes.

Forensic polygraph tests are done as parts of criminal investigations while vetting tests are done for various reasons, including for the promotion of policemen to sensitive areas, and the testing of recruits.

"Polygraph tests have served us very well, and while it has given the commissioner ammunition to act against some persons who are not facing criminal charges, it has also saved the careers of several members of the Force who have been subjected to innuendos and allegations," Hay had said at that time.

More than 500 police personnel have resigned, been dismissed or charged for corruption and ethical violations since 2012 when the Canadian government pumped some $59 million of resources into the Polygraph Unit.