Editorial for September 16: Polygraph tests answers wanted

In general, society expects a lot
of police officers and often – as is the case in the Cayman
Islands – we don’t pay them very much or thank them very often for
their absolutely vital work.

Many police officers, in other jurisdictions
as well as this one, can sometimes feel they are getting it from all sides;
from the criminals who always make their lives difficult, from the general
public that feels officers can never seem to do enough and from the government
that usually appears to be coming up with new rules and regulations for the men
and women in uniform to follow.

In this jurisdiction, the police
officers are also getting it from a fourth side, so to speak: their own department
management.

For reasons unknown, even to some
of the officers, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has embarked upon a
process involving polygraphs – lie detector tests – being administered to dozens
of cops.

The police service and the
government entity that oversees the service have refused numerous invitations
from the press to discuss the matter fully.

We might understand this, if there
were some criminal investigation going on within the RCIPS that involved offences
of moral turpitude amongst certain officers. In fact, as we have written in
another editorial on the subject, we would support it.

But according to the one and only
statement issued by the service on the matter, these polygraphs are being given
as part of some “vetting” process.

According to the officers
themselves – all of them terrified to speak publicly because God knows what
would happen then – there have been threats of demotion or firing for those who
don’t take the tests.

If that is a true statement, are we
now in a situation in Cayman that will allow any civil servant to be forced to
take a lie detector test at random for no specified purpose? Surely, the RCIPS
can come up with a better explanation. In fact, it needs to.

Otherwise, we could easily envision
the next round of lawsuits – a la Operation Tempura – filed by police officers
and others that have their legal and contractual rights trodden upon by a management
that doesn’t seem to think it is accountable to anyone.  

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