Coopertown, Tennessee police chief Shane Sullivan uses lie-detector tests to keep racists off the force.
Sullivan was hired to rebuild the police force after the city was destroyed by scandal; including road rage incidents, the use of racial slurs, and over-the-top speed traps.
Some polygraph experts warn lie-detector tests may not accurately predict racism because many people don’t realize they are racist.
But Sullivan says the test has scared away racist applicants, and that it’s working.
The new chief intends for his lie detector idea to help clean up the Coopertown’s image. Candidates are required to answer whether they have ever committed a hate crime or a race-based crime.
“It doesn’t ask if you’ve ever made a racist remark or slur,” the chief said. Nor does the test ask people if they are prejudiced against any ethnic or religious minority.
Bob Peters, a spokesman for the American Polygraph Association, said asking about factual matters is a better approach than using subjective questions about prejudice or racism. He says a polygraph can’t accurately predict whether someone is racist.
According to experts, the use of a lie-detector test to weed out racists is a first in the law enforcement application process.
It may not be perfect, but at least he’s trying.
Thoughts on Chief Sullivan’s lie-detector test policy?
Should departments across the country use polygraph tests to weed out racist applicants?
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