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PSP eliminates polygraphs for applicants. Is that lowering standards to replenish ranks?

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - There were several rows of uniformed Pennsylvania State Police personnel at the House Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday morning.

Lawmakers worry there aren't enough of them everywhere else.

"They're really overstretched," said Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon) who sits on the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

Ryan says there are currently about 4,200 troopers, but there should be 4,800. Ryan believes PSP stopped giving polygraph tests to incoming cadets to increase their ranks.

"We're hearing behind the scenes from other state police officers that that's the reason it was abandoned," Ryan said. "That there were too many people that couldn't pass the polygraph to begin with."

PSP Commissioner Tyree Blocker rejected that assertion. He said polygraphs were dumped because of the cost and a belief that investigative background checks are sufficient. But Blocker did add this comment to the committee:

"I think we all know that the polygraph is not an exact science," Blocker said.

It was an unusual comment, perhaps, for the state's top cop.

Also an inexact science is predicting how an applicant will fare as a state trooper. But Ryan insists that polygraphs would help and worries that decreasing standards will increase potential liabilities.

"I'm really concerned because once you get somebody in, with the civil service laws we have in the commonwealth today, you're gonna have that person for 30 years, and that's putting the public at risk for a long period of time," Ryan said.

But that will be someone else's problem. Blocker confirmed that he'll be stepping down "shortly."

"I have been with the Pennsylvania State Police over 33 years and I've enjoyed every day of my tenure," he said.


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