Editorial for September 9: Polygraph testing the RCIPS

The revelation that the Royal
Cayman Islands Police Service is polygraph testing its officers is already
causing controversy and disgruntlement.

Few people actually enjoy the
stress of a polygraph test and its inherent invasion of privacy. In addition,
it’s widely accepted that polygraph tests are not infallible and that there are
ways to ‘beat’ them.

However, before people start
complaining about Police Commissioner David Baines’ decision to implement
polygraph testing, everyone should remember the goal of tests: to reduce the
amount of corruption – or at least the perceived corruption – in the police

Residents have long suspected and
heard rumours of various forms of police corruption here, whether it be police
officers letting friends or family get away with crimes, using their position
for financial gain, or being involved in illegal activities. While rumours are
just rumours, they were substantial enough to get former Governor Stuart Jack
to sign off on two police corruption investigations.  Although no convictions occurred out of
Operation Tempura or Operation Cealt, that doesn’t mean the RCIPS is squeaky
clean. There’s an old saying that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and the
persistence of rumours of police corruption here represents significant smoke.

Polygraph testing is used as a way
of vetting applicants for police jobs in many places in the world as one of the
ways of trying to keep police corruption at a minimum. We see no problem with
using it here to try and do the same thing.


  1. In relation to the proposal to use ‘Lie Detectors’ by the RCIPS, I would make the following comments:
    Ask yourself this question…. are the results of a polygraph test accepted in court?
    The answer is no. Now ask yourself why?
    Polygraph tests are unreliable in fact, they do not work. They measure physiological changes in the body, changes that can be triggered by the stress of the test rather than ay decision to lie or not. Accomplished liars are able to defeat the test and it will be the nervous innocent who will be rejected.
    So, if the Caymanian courts will not accept it why should the RCIPS be even considering using it?
    Perhaps the Commissioner is simply acknowledging that his vetting procedures are so poor he is now clutching at straws. He wants to be seen to do something regardless of how effective this ‘something’ might be.

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