U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Use of Polygraph in Law Enforcement Internal Affairs Investigations

NCJ Number
Polygraph Volume: 39 Issue: 3 Dated: 2010 Pages: 127-138
Joel F. Montezinos
Date Published
12 pages
This article discusses the use of polygraphs in internal affairs (IA) investigations by police departments and law enforcement agencies.
The intent of IA investigations is not adversarial in nature, rather it is a fact finding process. IA investigations do not usually involve instances of criminal activity or police corruption, but instead involve instances of simple misconduct, or mistakes in judgment stemming from improper training, procedural changes, or failure to remember a policy. As a result, polygraph examiners need to understand the legal, ethical, and procedural requirements of an IA investigation, otherwise the use of polygraph in these investigations will be ineffective. This article presents basic guidelines for polygraph examiners to follow when conducting IA investigations. The article discusses the following: the types of examinations that require the use of polygraph, the procedural rights of law enforcement employees in IA investigations, the acknowledgement of the employees' rights, noncriminal investigations, issues dealing with employee refusal or consent to sign the acknowledgement form, the use of a liability waiver in polygraph exams, applicable standards for establishing testing procedures for polygraph exams, requirements for testing complainants, ethical issues surrounding IA investigations, and special considerations to remember when conducting IA investigations. References