Monday, February 26, 2007

Broward inmate injury lie test mislaid

The following are excerpts from a Miami Herald article dated February 25, 2007, along with corrections and clarifications regarding the reporting in the story.

"...A Broward Sheriff's Office polygraph examiner involved in an investigation into how a jail inmate got severe head injuries has a history of manipulating and misinterpreting polygraph tests."

CLARIFICATION: The "history" referred to are two incidents in the 27 years the examiner has been giving polygraph tests.

The first incident was during an investigation when detectives believed a suspect might be persuaded to make certain admissions if he thought a polygraph test showed certain results. In this case, the examiner was instructed to intentionally administer a phony test. Outside of this limited purpose, neither the examiner nor the detectives ever claimed that the test was legitimate, and it was never used against anyone in any legal proceeding.

This incident, since it was ordered by investigators and intentionally staged had nothing to do with the examiner's competence or ability to accurately give polygraph tests. Sometime later, when the examiner was asked if his actions were consistent with the polygrapher's Code of Conduct, he honestly answered that it wasn't.

The second incident involved a reinterpretation of the results of a test. Polygraphy is an art form that largely depends on the examiner's interpretation. Just as you might get different medical opinions from several doctors, it is not uncommon for different examiners to reach different conclusions.

"...Association members are obliged to abide by its standards, and licenses can be revoked. Hoffman's personnel file shows he has been certified for years. Any complaints are kept secret."

CLARIFICATION: For the reader's clarification, Mr. Hoffman's personnel file is public record, available for inspection, and was examined by the reporter who wrote this story. The secret complaints mentioned by the writer are any complaints that may have been filed with the Polygrapher's Association, which is independent from BSO.