Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Chief: Police association lawyers manufacturing polygraph results

The main benefit to Texas police officers of membership in a police association (which is the equivalent of a union in a right-to-work-for-less state) comes when their job is threatened, even or perhaps especially if they might be fired because of job-related misconduct. That's because the unions, having largely written their own employment laws at the state legislature, have a cadre of experienced lawyers with resources so vast even big cities like Austin or Houston find their legal staffs signficantly outgunned.

As opposed to a traditional union concept, in Texas departments that don't have collective bargaining police associations function more like a pre-paid legal fund.

Police association attorneys have a reputation for ruthless, scorched earth strategies -- they'd rather see a good police chief lose his job than a crooked line officer -- and that often makes them an enemy of accountability, even if they represent members of noble profession. It's just so seldom the noble ones, it seems, who need lawyers.

Hitchcock Police Chief Glen Manis' thinks attorneys from the
Texas Municipal Police Association are phonying up lie detector tests to save the job of Hitchcock Police Association President Chris Day. Day was fired for racial slurs directed at another officer, reported Scott Williams of the Galveston Daily News. (TMPA is a parent association for many smaller police associations around the state.)

“It kind of sends a red flag up to me that we give him a test and it’s inconclusive, but every time his attorney picks a tester for him he passes,” Chief Manis said. Day's lawyers claimed he passed three different polygraph tests, but those are not admissible in court because of unreliability.

Reported Williams, "Day was accused of opening files with pictures of a Bayou Vista officer’s family and typing racial epithets and expletives into those files." He has remained president of the police association despite losing his job.

Ironically, Day stands accused by a jailhouse snitch: A firefighter named Richard Gammill who was jailed earlier this year on unrelated charges involving alcohol and minors. Gammill claims he witnessed Day typing the slurs.


Anonymous said...

The humorous bit about this is that polygraph testing is a load of junk. It's pseudoscience in practice. The polygraph has a bit too much of the Rorschach in it; the tester interprets freely the lines painted.

http://www.salon.com/april97/news/news970410.html for example

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

The polygraph test is not interpreted solely by the examiner. It is scored by the software and MAY be also scored by the examiner. As for the rest of the article, what of type of attorneys would you suggest that police officers have to defend themselves against the neverending frivilous complaints that stem from arresting child molesters, drug dealers, and even just writing a ticket to the guy who passed your kids school bus while it was unloading because he was busy on his cell phone ? I am certainly flattered by the assumption that the police officers have the best attorneys money can buy and the poor 4th largest City in the United States is left defenseless. I sent Officer Day to the most qualifed polygraph examiner I am aware of. When Chief Manis didn't like that examiner, I sent Chris to another examiner in Dallas who was the President of the Texas Polygraph Association. Yes he did pass both exams. The "witness" against Officer Day has a standing invitation to take a polygraph exam ay my expense from the examiner of his choice. Since he wouldn't even appear at the last hearing, I suspect we won't hear from him on this offer. Moreover, my offer does not include posting his bond for him to appear for the exam.

The polygraph was to used as a tool to help Officer Day "prove his innocence". Sounds a little strange to hear a statement about "proving your innocence" in this Country. Chris Day is a good police officer and his career should not be ruined by a lie. You are right, there are some bad cops. However, the overwhelming majority of cops are good people who are willing to risk their life to protect people they may never know.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

There's a reason polygraph exams aren't usable in court, of course, and it's that they're pretty much junk science. Variations often stem more from the formation of questions than from interpreting the data. And what questions are asked is usually a function of who hired the polygraph "expert."

And the municipalities ARE outgunned, mostly because they have MANY things to spend money on, while the unions have tremendous focus on one institutional goal: to keep police officers from being fired for misconduct no matter what. That lets them bring more resources to bear on misconduct cases than municipalities in most high-profile cases.

If your client's innocent, I hope he gets his job back. But if he did what the police chief says he did, he deserved to be fired. Regards,

Anonymous said...

Take a look at TMPA's website and you will see what we are about. (www.tmpa.org) Our institutional goal is professionalism in law enforcement and the majority of the budget is spent on education and efforts to improve law enforcement and punishment for criminals. Of course defending police officers against accuations is a part of that.

As far as the polygraph on Day's case, it was the City's idea to use one, not mine. I did not and do not ever participate in formulating the relevant questions.

Take care.

Greg Cagle
Region II Attorney
Texas Municipal Police Assoc.

Anonymous said...

Well now, in view of the recent phone call that Mr Whitmire got from death tow, it seems to me that the time has come for TDCJ guards to undergo a national level security style polygraph examination before they are entrusted with the lives of others. Needless to say I think that all cops and lawyers should also have to pass a LIFESTYLE polygraph examination as well----all in the public interest of course; after all TEXAS and federal lawmakers pass the test as well. It is time to formalize the police state that the moronic public has fostered, and that means doing the job right for a change.......

Anonymous said...

make that death row, not tow

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