JCF numbers show senior officers take polygraph tests

JCF numbers show senior officers take polygraph tests


Friday, February 21, 2020

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FIGURES from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) have revealed that several members of its senior ranks have been subjected to polygraph testing in the past two years, with the vast majority passing comfortably.

During a recent sit-down with editors and reporters of the Jamaica Observer, United States (US) Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia called for more polygraph testing of senior JCF officers as he argued that the tests administered to new recruits and rank-and-file members were not enough to ensure transformation of the 152-year-old force.

“...Today to become a JCF officer (member) you have to take a polygraph test. I think it was last year it was 150 people who applied to become a JCF [member], only like 75 of them actually passed the polygraph test to move on.

“So that 75, or whatever the number is, those are all clean officers. But, my point to them is okay, so they're clean [but], what about this section up here? They've been here for five years. They didn't take a polygraph test,” said Tapia in reference to the officer level of the JCF.

But Observer checks have shown that the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) administered polygraph tests to 13 JCF officers between the ranks of assistant superintendent of police (ASP) and assistant commissioner of police (ACP) for the purposes of promotion and sensitive postings in 2018.

There were no concerns raised by the test results from any of the officers.

Last year 32 JCF officers, from ASP to ACP, were subject to polygraph testing by MOCA, with concerns raised by the responses of six of them, but it was underscored that this did not mean the officers failed the test.

“Once MOCA saw concerns it means that additional investigation would be done, but the officers would not be considered to have failed,” a senior security source told the Observer.

“It could be that the officer admitted to seeing some questionable action when they were a young constable and did nothing, but this would raise a concern for MOCA and would trigger a red flag that would lead to further investigations,” added the source.

According to the security official, the JCF regularly partners with US law enforcement agencies, which provide funding and specialised training for local police officers who are being moved into sensitive areas.

“Many of the specialised training courses require special vetting, which includes polygraph examinations,” said the security source.

He noted that since the JCF established its Polygraph Unit in December 2017, just over 1,360 tests have been done up to end of last year with the majority being individuals seeking to join the force.

In 2018, 473 polygraph tests were conducted by the unit, inclusive of recruits and serving members.

The data shows that just under 180 serving members of the JCF were tested in 2018, inclusive of rank-and-file members and officers.

These cops were slated to be moved to sensitive areas, such as the Lottery Scamming Task Force, the intelligence or narcotics divisions. Some were up for promotion while others had been selected to go on specialised courses offered by the US and other international partners. There were no failures from those who were tested.

However, of the 294 individuals who applied to join the JCF in 2018, 248 passed the polygraph test, while 46 failed.

Last year a total of 509 polygraph tests were conducted for the JCF, inclusive of recruits and serving members.

Of this number, 192 were rank and file as well as gazetted members. These individuals were tested for transfer, promotion, periodic screening, specialised courses such as the Accelerated Promotion Programme and the Instructors' Development Course.

The remaining 317 were recruits, of which just over 260 passed the test while 54 failed.

MOCA polygraph tests

2018 13 JCF officers tested no concerns

2019 32 JCF officers tested six concerns

2018 1,037 JFC applicants 841 no concern, 196 concerns

2019 1,291 JCF applicants 1,123 no concern, 168 concerns

JCF Polygraph Unit tests

2018 179 JCF members tested no failures

2019 192 JCF members tested no failures

2018 294 applicants tested 46 failed

2019 317 applicants tested 54 failed

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