Trooper Rob: Lie detector test inadmissible in courtPublished 6:31pm Monday, December 17, 2012
Ask Trooper Rob
By Robert Herbstreith, Michigan State Police Niles Post
“Trooper Rob. I heard on television that the polygraph, or “lie detector test” was a forensic science but not admissible in court. Can you explain?”
— Abbi from Niles
You are correct in knowing the polygraph is part of the Forensic Science Division. The polygraph measures changes in the body, such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and respiration.
The polygraph operator will ask general questions to establish truth, such as day of week, color of shirt or name. The operator will then ask specific case questions, such as “Did you do it?” or “Were you there?” The machine will detect any changes in the body and the operator will compare to the truth questions. They then determine truth or untruthful answers.
The machine results are not admissible in court proceedings; however, the operator is an expert witness in interviews and interrogation and can testify to the answers based on human, visible reactions to the questions and answers. This is accepted in court.
There are many myths on “how to beat” the polygraph. They are just that, myths. A penny in the mouth or a tack in the shoe just doesn’t work. If the person is intoxicated or “high,” the operator will not conduct the test.
Thank you for your question. Email any questions or comments to Ask Trooper Rob at TrooperRob53@Yahoo.Com .
In the Line of Duty
Three Michigan State Police troopers died while on military leaves of absence from the department, serving with the Armed Forces overseas during World War II. They fell far from Michigan, but their sacrifice in the service of their country must also be remembered.
Tpr. Roger J. Van Oss, 29, enlisted in the MSP on Sept. 26, 1941, and was assigned to the Flint Post. He was inducted into the U.S. Army on Aug. 16, 1942. Tpr. Van Oss was killed in action on June 8, 1944, while moving inland with the Allied Forces in France two days after the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
Tpr. John M. Foster, 24, enlisted in the MSP on Jan. 17, 1942, and was assigned to the Gladstone Post. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Sept. 30, 1942. Tpr. Foster was drowned while serving as a sailor aboard the submarine U.S.S. Tang in the Pacific. After sinking several Japanese warships north of Formosa, the Tang fired its last torpedo at an enemy troop transport, but the torpedo was defective. It circled back and exploded against the Tang’s stern, sinking the submarine. About a dozen officers and sailors managed to swim to the surface, but several soon died from the “bends” and the rest were captured by the Japanese. Foster was among the 78 crewman who did not escape the sunken vessel.
Tpr. William F. Filter, 27, enlisted in the MSP on Oct. 17, 1940, and was assigned to the Ypsilanti Post. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on Feb. 1, 1943. While on occupation duty as a captain in the military police at Linz, Austria, Tpr. Filter was accidently shot by another soldier who was handling a foreign pistol seized as a trophy. Tpr. Filter died in the arms of a brother Army officer who had been a Texas State trooper.
This concludes the “Line Of Duty” section of this article. Hostile gunfire killed 21
troopers, three of whom relinquished their off-duty status to respond to crimes in progress, two were accidently shot by other police officers, 20 died from patrol car or motorcycle accidents, five of which involved collisions with streetcars or trains. Five were killed by other cars as they exited their patrol cars or as they stood on the roadway. One drowned and one suffered a fatal heart attack after inhaling toxic fumes from a derailed train tank car. Three died while on active military service and two police dogs were also killed while on duty.
Being human (except for the two police dogs), the troopers occasionally griped about their low pay, took extra-long coffee breaks or failed to keep their shoes properly shined.
They also rendered countless acts of public service. All had much to live for, but they chose to place themselves in harm’s way for the greater good of the public.
Perhaps that is the best definition of a hero.