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JCF polygraph unit tests over 650 since 2017

Published:Saturday | March 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM

More than 650 Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) members and applicants have undergone polygraph testing since 2017.

The tests, conducted by the Polygraph Unit, fall under the Effective Policing Pillar of the Ministry of National Security’s Five-Pillar Crime Reduction Strategy and are aimed at enhancing the police force as the foundation of a lawful and well-ordered society.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Dr Kevin Blake, who is in charge of the Planning, Research and Development Branch, said the tests are part of measures to improve professional standards and enhance the JCF’s public image.

“The best way to win trust and support from citizens is to demonstrate intolerance of unprofessionalism, and that’s what we set out to do by adopting a zero-tolerance approach for anything that runs contrary to effective policing,” he pointed out.

A polygraph, popularly referred to as a lie-detector test, is a device or procedure that measures and records several physiological indicators such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while a person answers a series of questions.

The idea is that these physiological responses can indicate whether a person is lying or telling the truth.

Sub-officer in charge of quality, audit and assurance, Sergeant Adrian Wellington, said the polygraph test is used as one of the JCF’s background-investigation tools.

“The polygraph officers are trained in 50 areas, so we are basically investigators as well. We are trained in different interviewing skills and interrogation techniques, including statement analysis (written and oral) and cognitive interviewing, so when a person says certain things, we recognise certain traits that may not be of the character that we desire in the Force,” he outlined.

He added that through the polygraph test, “we are able to weed out all of the bad apples both internally and externally, and its use is already impactful as persons have been speaking about the Polygraph Unit and recognise the effect of the unit on our investigations”.