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Polygraph Testing

Discussion in 'EMS Talk' started by Chief Complaint, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. Chief Complaint

    Chief Complaint New Member

    Not sure how common Polygraph testing is among agencies across the nation, but its part of the hiring process in every county near me. Just looking for some insight as to what i should expect. Unfortunately, i have a fairly extensive drug experimentation history, and i have been asked to explain all of this as part of the application process. My answers will be verified on a polygraph test should i make it to that stage of hiring.

    The easy answer is obvsiouly, just tell the truth, but im afraid that i may be disqualified based on my history. Id hate to lie on the test but i fear that honesty may not be the best policy in this case. In your opinions, should i be completely forthcoming in answering these questions? Or do you think i should maybe leave some information out? Ive never used any injectable drugs, but ive experimented with just about everything else. Most was over 10 years ago but i was a pretty regular pot smoker up until about 2 years ago.

    Any advice is appreciated.
  2. medichopeful

    medichopeful Scientia est lux lucis

    What agency are you looking at? PM me if you're more comfortable
  3. HotelCo

    HotelCo New Member

    Or just post three agencies, with two being decoys. :lol:

    Just be up front about it. Are you a meth head right now? No? Then you're fine. Honesty goes a long way during a job interview.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  4. I would be honest
  5. medichopeful

    medichopeful Scientia est lux lucis

    Ahh, reminds me of the "2 truths and a lie" game :lol:
  6. i5adam8

    i5adam8 New Member

    Location:
    Michigan
    EMS Training:
    EMT-Paramedic
    I can't believe these agencies are actually using Polygraph testing for hiring purposes. It has been proven that these kinds of "lie detector" tests are completely unreliable and CAN be beaten. There is a reason they are not upheld in a court of law.
  7. I can. It's EMS.

    "EMS: 100-something years or tradition unimpeded by progress"

    Polygraph testing is the least of the worrisome outdated shenanigans from the stone age that EMS clings too
  8. I just did a quick internet search on this subjesct and copied and pasted the following from http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/admissability-of-polygraph-tests-in-court.html


    What are the State Laws Concerning Polygraph Admissibility?
    Almost every state fits into one of two categories; those that find them completely inadmissible and those that allow their admission with "the stipulations of both parties" (meaning both you and the prosecutor agree to admit the test results as evidence).

    States like California, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and Florida allow the tests if everyone agrees to them, but may put different emphasis on the tests accuracy.


    California, for instance, presents the results to the jury, and allows them to draw whatever inferences from it they wish.
    Georgia, on the other hand, allows defendants who suffer damage because of a false result on a polygraph test (which are somewhat frequent) to sue the polygraph operator for damages and attorneys fees.
    Florida is the one state that does require some people to submit to polygraph tests (previously convicted sex offenders), but even then those test results cannot be used against them in court, and are for use only within the course of their therapy.

    The states in which polygraphs are inadmissible include New York, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. In these states, even if both parties wish to enter polygraph test results into evidence, it is forbidden (except in very rare scenarios).

    Some states, like New York and Texas, forbid their use completely in all employment and law enforcement contexts.
    Other states, like Massechussettes, do not allow them to be entered as evidence, but CAN use them as supporting probable cause (to obtain search warrants).

    So as you can see polygraphs may be admitted into evidence under certain conditions.
  9. Aprz

    Aprz Active Member

    Location:
    California
    Be honest.
  10. akflightmedic

    akflightmedic Active Member

    Polygraphs and Voice stress analyzer (VSA) are very common in fire departments in Florida. Unfortunately they are completely legal despite their inaccuracy as the results are interpreted by the polygrapher...talk about a subjective test! He could just be having a bad day...

    There are some very long and very informative threads about this very topic on firehouse.com. I do not typically reroute traffic to another site but this is where you are going to find YEARS worth of threads and experiences on this very topic.
  11. Chief Complaint

    Chief Complaint New Member

    Im not all that comfortable giving the name, ill just say that its a county in Northern VA.

    I would feel much more comfortable being honest, trust me i would. But im afraid that some of my past drug use will result in automatic disqualification from their hiring process. Ive never used meth though, lol.

    Its not uncommon for county's to disqualify people for certain drugs around here, hallucinogens being one of them. Those are really the drugs im worried about. Im sure they understand that many people applying for a job with them have used marijuana and are willing to work around that, but im afraid that they wont be so understanding about "hard" drugs.

    Thanks for the link, im heading over there right now.
  12. EMT-Tony

    EMT-Tony New Member

    Location:
    Minnesota
    Never have heard of polys used in EMS yet, I had to go through some in firefighting stuff tho.

    I saw on The Shield once they all took some vicodines and if you re-word the question in your head to make your yes or no be what they want you can beat it haha
  13. dstevens58

    dstevens58 New Member

    Location:
    Northeast, Ohio
    I believe that above all else, they're looking for an honest person.

    I was a little anxious about experimental drug use when I was young/foolish back in the 70's. I expressed my concerns regarding this to the polygraph examiner and he "modified" his question from have you "ever" to have you, in the last xx years" used drugs.

    I passed and went on to enjoy a twenty year career in law enforcement, both as a civilian employee and behind the badge.
  14. IAems

    IAems New Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Lying never works

    If you lie, you will probably get caught and that will stay on record. Good luck finding a job with a good department after that. If your honest, maybe this department likes you, maybe it doesn't, but there's always the next one. However, these lie detectors are based of a giant list of questions you've already answered during background examination (if this is any sort of reputable department). The polygraph examiner asks you questions to confirm what you previously stated during the background examination. Furthermore, for any department you apply to in the future, they can and will collect your previous answers to any previous background questions for any previous agencies and compare them (so let's hope you're really good at remembering your lie). If you're caught lying than you're busted, and other departments in the future will probably know why you didn't get the job. But every department has different standards. I know LAPD won't accept you if you have used a stimulant, even once, but they don't really care about marijuana. I know Los Angeles Sheriff Department doesn't care about stimulant use experimentation in the past, but won't accept a "trend" of hallucinogenic use. Some departments, like some things; some departments like other things. It all depends. I'll tell you this. If you completed the background packet with the drug use questions and you were honest and they moved you on to the polygraph section, you've really got nothing to worry about if you tell the truth.
  15. nwhitney

    nwhitney Member

    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    I'm not a fan of polygraph test for all the reasons others have listed. With that being said you know the right thing to do is to be honest. If you omit (which is considered lying) and later on down the road they find out the truth your career is done, maybe lose your cert., and would have a hell of a time getting hired elsewhere. Is it worth it? You're the only one that can answer that.
  16. firetender

    firetender Active Member

    Location:
    Maui, HI
    EMS Training:
    EMT-Paramedic
    Don't lie; walk.

    My personal take is that I'd be highly unlikely to want to work for anyone who submits me to a polygraph test. Besides their inaccuracies, requiring that test implies distrust of you, therefore ALL employees, from the bat. The employer makes it clear it is willing to put you under undue pressure now and in the future. This degree of scrutiny is nothing but letting you know you're subservient to the Man.
  17. Chief Complaint

    Chief Complaint New Member

    Im filling out my personal history packet right now, just hoping that i make it to the next level in the hiring process and eventually the polygraph exam.

    Unfortunately, its the norm around here. There is only 1 county in the area that does not require a polygraph exam as part of the hiring process (they arent accepting applications right now).
  18. zzyzx

    zzyzx Member

    Don't worry about it. The polygraph test really does not work as claimed. That is, it cannot detect lies. It's real purpose is to make the person being interrogated believe that the interrogator has the ability to basically read their mind. This gives the interrogator a psychological advantage over the person being interrogated. You should research this (i.e., Google :)) yourself and you'll see what I mean.

    A lot of people have experimented with drugs when they were younger. As long as you don't have a drug or alcohol problem, I don't believe that that should disqualify you from work in EMS or fire.

    However, if you admit to having done "hard drugs" in the past, that is an automatic disqualification for most departments. Contrary to what some other people have been telling you, it may be in your best interest to lie. However, you should be honest with yourself, and if you really do have or have had a drug or alcohol problem, not just experimentation in the past, then you really may not be suited for this type of work.
  19. Chief Complaint

    Chief Complaint New Member

    I have done a fair amount of Google searching over the last week and found that many people feel the same as you do. Its a cruddy way to eliminate people from the hiring process, but it is what it is, and is certainly common with every county except one around here.

    I definitely do not have a drug problem, or anything close to it, just more use than the average person over the years. I was never addicted to any hard drugs, but certainly did my fair share of experimentation/recreational use. Its been a long time for most (7-10 years), excluding marijuana which wasnt too far in the past.
  20. medicdan

    medicdan Active Member Premium Member

    Location:
    Northeast
    I'm not going to list the links, but it might be worth it to do a search of "polygraph" on this forum-- there have been good discussions in the past.
    One of the things I do know on a federal level is that polygraphs are NO LONGER admissible in court, and CANNOT be used for pre-employment screening, absent of a few federal agencies. Significant scientific research has demonstrated they DO NOT WORK, are easily manipulated and function off of the examiner scaring you into believing it all works.

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