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Race Matters: Tennessee Police Chief Uses Polygraph Tests To Help Keep Racist Cops Off His Force
Not such a bad idea if you ask us…
Tennessee Police Chief Uses Polygraph Tests To Keep Racist Cops Off The Force
A police chief hired to rebuild a tiny Tennessee department dismantled by scandal is using a lie-detector test to keep racists off his force.
Coopertown Police Chief Shane Sullivan took over the department in November, becoming the 11th chief in as many years. He was hired on the heels of a series of police scandals that for a few months left Coopertown with no police at all. Years before that, a mayor was voted out of office after the local prosecutor accused him of racism and running a notorious speed trap.
Law enforcement experts say Sullivan’s polygraph approach is unusual, though some departments use the devices for other purposes during the application process. Others try to root out bias in other ways. One polygraph expert warned that lie detectors can’t accurately predict racism for reasons that include people’s inability to recognize their own racism.
Sullivan said he doubts racists will even apply for the force if they know about the tests.
“I think the polygraph will definitely keep these people from applying,” the 39-year-old chief said.
And he believes the policy is working, because he says it’s already discouraged some applicants. “I’ve told a couple of ones about the polygraph who have not called me back.”
Although there are people who don’t agree with the new chief’s policy, he has good reason to implement it based on the small town’s racists history…
First, the only full-time patrolman was fired over a road rage incident. Then the reserve officer was dismissed after a dashboard camera captured him using a racial slur to describe a black motorist. The dash cam video was later aired in the media. Soon after that, the police chief quit…
In 2006, the county prosecutor asked a court to oust then-Mayor Danny Crosby on allegations he was running a speed trap and ordering police to target Hispanics, out-of-towners and soldiers from nearby Fort Campbell, Ky., for traffic tickets.
Although an appellate court agreed with a lower court’s finding that Crosby’s conduct and statements were strongly suggestive of “bigotry, sexism or utter foolishness,” it refused to remove him. Crosby was later voted out of office and the speed trap is gone.
We hope that more police chiefs follow Sullivan’s example and become more diligent about vetting potential racists so that they don’t have an opportunity to wear the badge as a bigot.
Image via AP