1. #1
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    Default Polygraph for candidates

    Our recruiting department has recently inroduced the use of a lie detector into the selection process. Candidates recieve a personal disclosure form(PDF) which asks questions about your drug and alcohol history, criminal association and behavior, acts of violence(sports or otherwise), etc, etc. There is a three year window in which the candidates must be "clean". They fill out the pdf and then come in and go over the form while connected to a polygraph. We are told that this is becoming common practice amoung other departments. What do you guys think?

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    Nothing wrong with polygrapsh if you have nothing to hide. My concern would be more along the lines of what is considered clean. Who defines "clean".

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    Default LOTS of info....

    Capt. Bob (a Firehouse.com writer) has done a lot
    of leg work for you in the area of the lie detector.
    Click on these links before for some info. There are
    some really good links INSIDE these articles.

    http://www.eatstress.com/polygrap.htm
    http://www.eatstress.com/polygraph.htm
    http://www.eatstress.com/liedetector.htm
    http://www.eatstress.com/voicestress.htm

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    That is the question alot of firefighters have been asking. There are certain offenses that will disqualify you even if they fall outside the 3yr window. Serious criminal convictions, understandably, are one. Again, who defines serious? Another one is if you have ever used heroin or lsd. Behavioral psychologists say that even if you have only used either of these two once in your life you are susceptable to flash backs. These flash backs are typically brought on in dark and or noisy environments. I found that very interesting. I was speaking with one of the guys involved with recruiting and he said there was one candidate which had scored very high on the interview and probably would have been hired. When they went over his pdf this guy was a menace to society that probably belongs in prison. If it eliminates guys like that, it's a good thing.

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    The polygraph (not a lie detector) is an investigative tool that I use frequently in criminal investigations. It is illegal in NJ for it to be used as a pre-employment screening tool.

    It is an instrument that does nothing but measure the body's response to certain stimuli (questions and answers). The polygraph cannot decide if someone is lying. It is up to the operator to interpret the resulting polygrams and use his expert knowledge to decide if a question was answered deceptively.

    The pre-test screening tool and interview is a very important part of the process. So are the qualifications of the operator. Our operators are the best in the business. I have many confessions to thank them for.

    I agree with the sentiment that if you have nothing to hide, don't be afraid of it.

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    Sorry dad , maybe lie detector is not the right word but it is a word commonly associated with the device and I just used it to help convey the message. I realize how it works and I realize the person operating it and processing the data is crucial but the fact remains that the accuracy of them is questionable. It is one of those necessary evils we need to have in place in order to keep the derelicts off the job. I don't see any other way to weed them out.

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    Originally posted by resqtek
    Sorry dad , maybe lie detector is not the right word but it is a word commonly associated with the device and I just used it to help convey the message. I realize how it works and I realize the person operating it and processing the data is crucial but the fact remains that the accuracy of them is questionable. It is one of those necessary evils we need to have in place in order to keep the derelicts off the job. I don't see any other way to weed them out.
    My post was for the benefit of the others. I could tell that you understood it.

    Don't get me wrong, it probably is a good tool for pre-employmenty screening, we just can't use it in NJ (and several other states).

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    Default accuracy?

    As it has been mentioned, a polygraph cannot detect a lie. However, these devices have been used in that manner for some time. What most people don't know (and the TV shows certainly don't help with the impression) is that "lie detectors" are inaccurate 25-75% of the time. So do I want my job based on whether or not I "pass" or "fail" the polygraph? no way. But there are people in jail right now because the failed the polygraph and there was no evidence to the contrary.

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    What most people don't know (and the TV shows certainly don't help with the impression) is that "lie detectors" are inaccurate 25-75% of the time.
    Most people don't know it because it is not true. Please provide us with a citation for this "fact".

    In reality, the polygraph is accurate 100% of the time. It is a meauring device. It measures a body's response, ie; respiration, blood pressure, pulse and galvanic skin response. It's a quantitative measurement and it's not wrong.

    The polygraph operator is responsible for interpreting the results and the meaning of the responses. He uses a pre-test interview, a test where the subject intentionally lies, the real test and then a post-test interview to form his opinion.

    At least in NJ, the polygraph is an investigative tool and is not admissable in court. So people don't get locked based on what the polygraph examiner says.

    I am waiting with baited breath for the source of your information.

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    Default info requested

    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, George. Been busy and wasn't on the forums.

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/polygraph/ota/

    This is a link to a report by the Federation of American Scientists on polygraphs and their accuracy as lie detectors and screening devices.

    I'll grant that your statement about polygraphs being accurate is true if you are only referring to what they measure. They measure blood pressure, pulse rate, and perspiration well. Interpreting those results into "did he/she lie or not?" is where the gross failure rate comes in.

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    I didn't even get past the summary until I found the evidence that your statement is false and purposely misleading.

    Six prior research reviews showed average validity ranging from a low of 64 percent to a high of 98 percent. OTA’S own review of 24 relevant studies meeting minimum acceptable scientific criteria found that, for example, correct guilty detections ranged from about 35 to 100 percent.
    The study you cited is a biased and slanted review of (apparently) 14tudies that are loosely refernced. Their results are also poorly summarized. You chose to take a miniscule portion of this article (my bet would be that you had to go search for this after your post) and try to use it to bolster your argument. That is called intellectual dishonesty.

    A major reason why scientific debate over polygraph validity yields conflicting conclusions is that the validity of such a complex procedure is very difficult to assess and may vary widely from one application to another. The accuracy obtained in one situation or research study may not generalize to different situations or to different types of persons being tested. Scientifically acceptable research on polygraph testing is hard to design and conduct.
    You actually have to read the articles you choose to rely on.
    Last edited by GeorgeWendtCFI; 11-22-2002 at 04:28 PM.

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    Default Remember, it's not paranoid if someone's out to get ya'.

    Wow George, were did you find that?

    I was too busy sifting through the info on alien abductions and how JFK's assassination was a plotted by the Spice Girls.

    FG
    IACOJ.... "Carpe Elkhartem"
    (Seize the Nozzle)


    "Victorious warriors win first,
    and then go to war,
    while defeated warriors go to war first,
    and then seek to win."

    SUN TZU

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    Default Re: Remember, it's not paranoid if someone's out to get ya'.

    Originally posted by Firegod343
    Wow George, were did you find that?

    I was too busy sifting through the info on alien abductions and how JFK's assassination was a plotted by the Spice Girls.

    FG
    Misinformation once again.

    JFK is actually alive and he plotted to kidnap the Spice Girl's one at a time so he and Walt Disney would have some company.

    Everybody knows that.

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    Six prior research reviews showed average validity ranging from a low of 64 percent to a high of 98 percent. OTA’S own review of 24 relevant studies meeting minimum acceptable scientific criteria found that, for example, correct guilty detections ranged from about 35 to 100 percent.
    First we need to define a term in this. "Validity is the extent to which polygraph testing can accurately detect truthfulness and deception." so from prior research polygraphs might have as high an accuracy of 98%. From the research this group did, the polygraph has from 35% to 100% accuracy at detecting guilt. Even if you can promise me at least 35%, I still don't want any part of it.

    A major reason why scientific debate over polygraph validity yields conflicting conclusions is that the validity of such a complex procedure is very difficult to assess and may vary widely from one application to another. The accuracy obtained in one situation or research study may not generalize to different situations or to different types of persons being tested. Scientifically acceptable research on polygraph testing is hard to design and conduct.
    This basically says we have trouble testing the polygraph because they don't work on enough predictable basis to test. This is like saying a particular car design is the best because it protects against all injury under one set of crash conditions but we can't test the other crash conditions it might be under and the tests we try shows that it may or may not protect you at all.

    Sorry, you have given me no evidence to show that polygraphs are reliable. I have posted research that shows they are, at best, only partially reliable to the best opperator.

    I will grant that I did have to "search" for stuff on the web, but only because the info i have is on paper and not on the web to my knowledge.

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    Whatever.

    I think you will find that I never said that the polygraph should be used for pre-employment testing. I said, and your article backs me up, that the machine is always correct. It is the operator that's fallible.

    I use the polygrpah frequently and have the utmost confidence in it. Our operators are the best.

    My problem is with people distorting an issue by using studeies that they don't read and then try to mislead people with them.

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    George, didn't know if I should pose this question here are on the arson post,but since this is on polygraph I chose here.
    If one of our members is reading this I may be in trouble but this haunts me.
    Not too long ago there was a fire that one of our 18 yr. old volunteer was questioned about. He was given a polygraph and past, he of course is resentful that he was questioned and it was reported to the authorities by our department but here is why:

    A rural farming community, no business out this way, majority of us (even me who has only been in this particular area for 10 yrs) pretty well knows who is who and where they live.

    An older couple moved into town for convience, the family homestead was going to be rented out so that they could keep the homestead in the family and still have the income. The house sits on a rural Hwy. they are several house on either side, less than 1/4 mile away. AT 2am dispatch recieves a call from one of our VFF who lives about 1 1/2 miles up the road from the house, stating that an older woman just stopped at his house and reported that a house was on fire. After making the call he headed to the firehouse and was in full turn-out gear ready to go before anyone else made it there (he is about 5m away, several others are less than 1/4 m. away). The house was a total loss and investigators are still unsure of cause.
    Resons for red flag, 1st who was the older woman, why would she be out this way at 2am, no factories let out at this time and there is nothing out this way to be headed to. If she lived out here she more than likely would have known not only who's house was on fire but also that so-and-so lived right up the road, why did she go 1 1/2 m., passing up several houses and stopping there? No woman has ever came forward stating that she was the one who stopped.
    Just so many questions and things that don't add up. He passed the polygraph but I have to admit I for one still question the whole thing. I hope he is innocent and I hope you can tell me that because he passed the polygraph I should put my worries to rest.He is one of those with a scanner mounted to his dash board, I think he lives in his co-T's, and so gun whole on going to everything he can. I can say for a fact, (finding out after all of this) that he does have a crimanal background but I can't prove it in black and white because his juevinal records are sealed and it would take a court order to open them. Because of the polygraph result everything was dropped.

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    One thing to remember about the polygraph in a criminal case. It is simply one investigative tool. A person should not be included or excluded because of a polygraph. There should be other evidence or least suspicion.

    There is alot of talk about beating the polygraph. Most of the experienced operators have had people try everything. Most of it doesn't work at all. Those that might work are easily recognizable. Most people are not smart enough or savvy enough to beat the polygraph.

    As far as the mnember of your FD, I would not want to comment on an investigation I was not involved in or was unfamiliar with. Red flags are not evidence. One thing to watch for is an abnormal increase in your fire activity. Let's face it, if you are in Heartland, USA, your fire activity will not be like you are in the Bronx. If it increases, you need to do something, like watch for patterns among all your members.

    Let me ask you a question, did your department do a bacjground check on this kid? Criminal records may not tell you anything, like you found out. What about calling references and asking them questions that you would ask if you were hiring him for a job? What about checking with past and present employers? If everybody knows everybody this shouldn't be too hard.

    Good luckj.

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    I honeslty cannot say what is done as far as checking out refrences. This is something that the chief and assistant chief takes care of, they don't share any of the information with the rest of the volunteers. I wouldn't have even known that he was given a polygraph test if he hadn't told me himself. I doubt because of cost a real indepth check is done on anyone. The only thing I can say on refrences is that no one in their right mind is going to put someone down who might even say the lest negative things about you, I know I sure in the heck don't. So are refrences really that reliable?
    For a plus side, a big part of us on the VFD, a background check has already been made because of our jobs.
    This kid isn't originally from this area, he has lived in the county for quite sometime but because of his age we really do not know much about him and their isn't much of a work record. Outside of the one incident when he was a minor, he seems to have a clean history. Fairly quiet, keeps to himself. And your right about fires, we have few and far between. Except right after he joined then we had two in a row, which both of these where called in by him. One should have never even been called, it was a grass fire that when they got there it could have been stomped out with a boot.

    Sorry I got this thread side-tracked. Get back to posting on polygraph test, so if I'm ever given one I'll know what to expect. And maybe I could keep this Irish temper under control if they start twisting questions. For pre-test, all they have to do is ask a woman about her weight, then they would have a lie to compare with.

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    It's a little off the track, but I'll respond anyway.

    References are generally reliable. Most people will not lie to protect someone when they are being asked these questions. The key is to have the right person in your department checking the references. Get the guy who can talk to anybody to do it.

    Another effective tool is to ask the references for the name of one person who could vouch for the applicant. Try to get a name not already on the list. You now have double the names.

    Also, don't forget to check past employers.

    Remember this...the most effective background checks cost $0.00. You do it.

    As far as the first two fires this kid goes to he discovers? He should be out buying lottery tickets instead of fighting fire. I understand why suspicion may have been focused on him. He would have lit up my radar screen too.

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