“Should I Lie During the Police Polygraph Exam?”April 11th, 2021
In a word: No.
Many candidates ask themselves the question, “Should I lie during the police polygraph exam?”.
Of course, for many this question makes sense. Perhaps you have been involved in a minor crime or misdemeanor but fear that this one mistake could cost you your place in the academy.
For other candidates, the situation is more serious. Perhaps they committed a far more serious crime or felony and hope that this can be brushed under the carpet. They may regret the crime – but do not want the matter raised during the police polygraph exam.
Is it possible to ‘beat the polygraph’?
Technically, yes – it is possible.
But a far more important question should be considered – namely, is it worth the risk?
Furthermore, would you like a police force to be composed of officers who have routinely lied – perhaps about small, irrelevant matters. If officers are willing to lie about the unimportant matters, then what else are they willing to lie about? This is the kind of evaluation that a polygraph examiner and wider assessment team will consider.
The polygraph is based on physiological responses. It measures:
- Heart rate
- Skin conductivity
- Blood pressure
Typically, the polygraph begins by creating a baseline. This involves asking you simple questions such as, “Is your name Paul?”, or “Do you live in Las Vegas?” – when the examiner knows your name and where you come from. This standardizes the polygraph with a baseline of how your body reacts whilst you are telling the truth.
When more difficult, more specific questions are asked, such as “Have you ever stolen?”, your bodily reaction will be markedly different if you are lying and have something to hide. It will show up quite clearly during the exam that something happened when you answered that question – and it may warrant follow-up questions or investigations on the part of the examiner.
Therefore, if you can control heart rate, perspiration, skin conductivity, and blood pressure throughout the entire exam – you can beat it. That’s difficult for sure, but it is possible for a candidate to lie multiple times and control these physiological responses to such a high degree that lies go unnoticed by the examiner.
Candidates who ask themselves the question, “Should I lie during the police polygraph exam?”, should really be thinking on a very different level.
First, if you have committed a serious offense, you are unlikely to be selected to become a police officer regardless. It does not matter how high you score on the police officer exam you will not be accepted. Whilst for some this may not seem fair; these are the rules that have been carved into stone.
Second, if you have committed a minor misdemeanor, you may still be accepted. In fact, if you are open and honest about your past and, during the oral board exam, demonstrate that you have clearly turned a corner, have learned from your mistake, and want to redirect your life in the right direction – officers may be sufficiently impressed by your openness and honesty. It also informs officers that you may have the character needed to operate as an effective law enforcement officer.
And by hoping to lie through the polygraph exam, it – as we have learned before – only serves to cast doubt on your authenticity. To become a police officer is to act in accordance with the law and serving the community around you. Officers cannot be allowed into the police academy if they have lied during the police entrance exam.
If lying is permitted, what else should be accepted?
Tell the Truth!
There is nothing worse than a compulsive liar.
Lying is a breach of character and it says to law enforcement departments that you do not have aptitude to succeed in this career. So, whilst you may be tempted to lie during the police polygraph exam, we do not recommend it.
Instead, we encourage students to have the backbone to tell the truth. Yes, this is more difficult – and it may even raise questions. But, as we have learned, it can also serve to act in a positive manner, too – informing police officers that you are different from other candidates; that you are willing to not only take the risk of undergoing additional scrutiny but are willing to accept this risk in the name of becoming a law enforcement officer.
It tells the panel that you are serious about the career; that it’s something you really do want – more than anything. And that, by telling the truth, you can turn that dream into a reality.
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