Minister of National Security, Senator Hon. Dwight Nelson said the Government is committed in ensuring that the force is equipped with the best and effective tools to advance crime fighting efforts.
“The remarkable advancement in technology, and the tools that are now available to us and are being utilised by the criminal underworld, demands that we stay ahead of the game. As policy makers, we are certainly addressing this area to ensure that the law enforcement agencies are equipped with modern technology,” he said.
He was speaking at the opening of the Polygraph Unit on Wednesday January 26 at the Police Training Academy in Twickenham Park, St. Catherine.
A polygraph is a machine that collects and records physiological data such as blood pressure, pulse, respiratory, sweat gland and cardiovascular activities, while the subject responds to a series of questions, to determine the truthfulness of the answers given.
The Minister said that polygraph testing is utilised by almost every law enforcement agency in foreign countries, adding that it is also used by prosecutors to verify the truthfulness of witnesses. He said that research has shown that the use of polygraph testing in the area of corrections has helped to reduce the number of repeat offenders.
“As a country, we can no longer adopt any type of complacent attitude concerning our methods of exposing criminality. We are at the stage where every legitimate method, every acceptable method of exposing criminality, must be used in our fight against crime,” he said.
Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington, in his remarks, said the polygraph process is integral in determining and maintaining integrity within the force.Senior personnel within the force are routinely polygraphed to ensure their suitability for leadership positions.
“We have to ensure that the future leadership of the Jamaica Constabulary Force is leadership with integrity, leadership that can be trusted, not just to do the right things professionally, but your juniors need to understand that the power that you hold will be used for their empowerment,” he said.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Anti Corruption Branch, Justin Felice informed that 389 polygraph tests were conducted on members of the force last year.
He informed that all officers have been subjected to polygraph testing, as a means of ensuring that “the right persons are promoted.”
He said contrary to popular belief, the equipment is a “truth verifier,” and an education programme needs to be put in place to ensure that members of the security force “fully understands the ramifications of the polygraph unit.”
ACP Felice also suggested the need for mobile polygraph facilities to prevent persons in other areas from having to travel into Kingston to be tested.
The Polygraph Unit will be manned by three members of the security force, who have received international polygraph certification courtesy of the Canadian government.
Construction of the unit was funded in part by the European Union, the Canadian High Commission and the British High Commission.
CONTACT: CHRIS PATTERSON