After a pretest interview, the examination began.  
Nearly every question during the polygraph test
revolved around the officer's marriage.  "Have you
ever cheated on your wife?  Have you ever lied to
your wife?  Have you ever held back money from
your wife?"  The officer answered no to every

The examiner stopped the questioning for several
minutes as he wrote hurriedly on a note pad.  As
the officer sat waiting for the examiner to continue,
he turned his head toward the machine.  Curious to
see a reaction from the machine, he took a sudden
deep breath to see if the needles on the machine
would react.  The sudden wide swing of one of the
needles caught the examiner's eye and elicited a
rebuke, "Stop fooling around, and look straight

When the examiner resumed the testing, he
continued to focus on the officer's marriage.  He
ask all the same questions over and over again but
with different variations.  "Have you ever had an
affair during your marriage.  Have you ever had sex
with another woman during your marriage."  The
questions about money and marriage were similarly

After exhausting the subject of marriage, money,
lies, and sex, the examiner abruptly concluded the
test.  The officer naturally asked if he'd passed the
examination?  Of course, the examiner would not
share his professional conclusion with the officer.  
You see... that's part of the polygraph mystique.  
They'll never tell you if you pass or fail.

The officer left the examiner's office feeling pretty
good with himself.  The examiner didn't have to tell
him he'd passed the test since he'd answered every
question truthfully.

Okay... I know what you're thinking.  All of the
questions were perfectly valid since an assignment
to vice enforcement would constantly expose the
officer to sex and money.  And... you're absolutely
correct.  However, the examiner made one critical
mistake during the pretest interview.  While he
verified that the officer was married, he never
inquired as to how long the officer had been
married.  In this case, I'd only been married for two
short weeks.  Had he known that fact, his questions
would have been much different.  In case you're
wondering if I got the assignment, you'll learn that
it takes a lot more than truthfulness to get an
assignment of your choice.
...just a machine

A polygraph is just a machine.  At the link I've
provided below, you're going to see the following:  
"During a polygraph, an examiner is always paying
attention to these fundamental clues and cues,
developing a sense of the suspect's values, beliefs,
motives, and attitudes."  Talk about everything
being in the eye of the beholder.  It doesn't sound
much different from what you'll be doing every time
you interview or interrogate a victim or suspect
respectively.  Another thing you'll learn is that the
polygraph was never developed, or intended, for law
enforcement; although, its use in law enforcement
has become widespread.  Oh, well... that's cops for
you... always looking for a shortcut.
"Lombroso, the founding father of criminology in
1895, was the first to experiment with a machine
measuring blood pressure and pulse to record the
honesty of criminals. He called it a
hydrosphygmograph. A similar device was used by
Harvard psychologist William Marston during World
War I in espionage cases, who brought the
technique into American court systems. In 1921,
John Larson added the item of respiration rate, and
by 1939, Leonard Keeler, one of the founding
fathers of forensic science, added skin conductance
and an amplifier, thus signaling the birth of the
'polygraph' as we know it today."  
A young police officer once applied for reassignment
to a vice unit in a major police department.  A
polygraph examination was required, and it was
administered by the department's full time
polygraph examiner.  The examiner had more than
twenty years experience, and he was considered to
be a highly qualified expert in his field.
The polygraph is getting a lot of use these days for
preemployment hiring of police officers.  It's
probably a legitimate use since the person is a
relatively unknown quantity.  Any deception
indicated would be an aid in conducting a
background investigation.  However, if any
perceived deception is, in and of itself, the
determining factor for denying employment, that
person becomes the victim of one man's, or
woman's, conclusion.     

After you become a police officer, you'll notice that
the only time a criminal suspect, or police officer, is
asked to take a polygraph examination is when the
investigator has already concluded, by other
investigative methods, that he or she is lying.  So,
when you hear a polygraph described as an
investigative aid, you might want to take a closer
look at the investigator.
"...the polygraph was never developed, or
intended, for law enforcement; although, its
use in law enforcement has become
widespread." ~ Barry M. Baker
Police and the

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Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement