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The polygraph examiner is responsible for the proper conduct of an examination according to current regulations. The examination must be administered under properly controlled conditions to accomplish the desired objective.

The examiner is prohibited, by regulation, from conducting an examination when, in the examiner's opinion, the person fits one of the following descriptions:

1. Mentally or physically fatigued. This precludes successful administration of the polygraph test, since the basic precept of the polygraph technique depends upon the ability of the subject to respond physically to mental stimuli.

2. Unduly emotionally upset, intoxicated, under the influence of marijuana, a sedative, or stimulant, or is known to be addicted to narcotics. Any of these conditions work to the detriment of the polygraph technique through modification of physical response.

3. Known to have a mental disorder. Psychosis and severe neurosis and, in some instances, pathological behavior patterns render a subject unfit for the polygraph examination.

4. Experiencing physical discomfort of significant magnitude or having physical disabilities or defects that might cause abnormal responses to the polygraph test.

5. Below the age of reason. Young children who have not matured to the extent of fully understanding social responsibilities are not suitable subjects for the polygraph technique.


The following is a list of things the polygraph examiner should not do:

1. Conduct an examination unless it has been duly authorized.

2. Formulate questions that probe into a person's thoughts, beliefs, or conduct not directly relevant to the offense or the polygraph technique. Examples of such subject areas that should not be probed unless directly relevant, are religious beliefs and affiliations, beliefs and opinions regarding racial matters, political beliefs and affiliations of a nonsubversive nature, and opinions regarding the constitutionality of legislative policies.

3. Identify himself or herself as other than an examiner by wearing a laboratory coat to create a clinical appearance, or by making statements that he or she is other than a polygraph examiner.

4. Attempt to make a physical or psychiatric diagnosis of a subject.

5. Examine any person wherein his or her opinion, the person is not a suitable subject for the polygraph examination If any doubt or question exists in the examiner's mind, the examination should be postponed pending physical or mental evaluation of the subject by competent medical authorities.


The objective of the polygraph examination is to ascertain if a person's reactions, as recorded indicate truthfulness, so the following maybe accomplished:

1. Verify statement or testimony.

2. Obtain additional investigative leads of an offense, location of evidence, or whereabouts of wanted persons.

3. Obtain facts when a test indicates the person has been deceptive.


The polygraph technique is based on the theory that a conscious mental effort to deceive on the part of a normal person causes a physiological change that may be recorded by the polygraph instrument. The polygraph instrument does not, and cannot, actually detect truth or deception. It produces a chart record of the physiological changes caused by a person's emotional responses during the test.

By examining the chart record an examiner may form an opinion that a person was not emotionally disturbed by the questions during the test and was therefore, truthful. An examiner may also form an opinion that a person was deceptive since physical responses were present because of the emotional disturbance caused by the questions. Accurate interpretation of test charts depends upon the training, experience, professional capabilities, and skill of the examiner.

Retest Interview

The examination must be conducted in a quiet, private place. An air-conditioned, soundproof room is best, but a regular interview room or other quiet, private room may be used. A room near an area with a relatively high noise level should not be used. The room should not contain wall ornaments, pictures, or unusual finishings that could be distracting to a subject.

The examiner should greet the examinee in a friendly, business-like manner, introduce himself or herself as a special agent of NCIS, and state that he or she is a certified polygraph examiner. The examinee should be informed of his or her constitutional rights by the examiner after informing the examinee of the offense of which accused or suspected and the purpose of the polygraph examination.

The examinee should be informed whether the examination room contains a two-way mirror or other device whereby the examinee can be observed without his or her knowledge, and informed whether the examination will be monitored in whole or in part by any means.

It should be explained that the examination is entirely voluntary on the part of the subject and that it will be conducted only with his or her written consent.

The examinee should be advised that no adverse action will be taken because of the refusal to consent to an examination, and that no record of refusal will be filed in any personnel records.

The remainder of the pretest interview is devoted to reviewing test questions with the subject to ensure complete understanding of the questions; explaining the mechanical functions of the polygraph instrument; and preparing the subject psychologically for the test. When the examiner feels the proper rapport has been established the testing phase of the examination can begin.


The exact procedure varies slightly with the person to be tested the facts of the offense, and the results desired The examinee should be given an opportunity to review the questions before the test.

The length of the polygraph examination will normally vary from 1 1/2 to several hours, depending on the number of chart series run, physiological tracings recorded thoroughness of examiner interview between chart series, physical and mental condition and requirements of the subject, as well as other delay causative. These normal interruptions or breaks in the polygraph test should not be construed as beginning a new examination, or as requiring additional approval of the authorizing representative.

Post-Test Interview

Upon completion of the actual test phase of the examination the polygraph examiner studies the chart tracings and arrives at one of four conclusions. The conclusions are "No Deception Indicated," "Deception Indicated," "Inconclusive," or "No Opinion."

NO DECEPTION.- The subject is informed that the examination has been completed and the charts will be subjected to a detailed analysis. The subject is assured that evaluation and review of the charts will be accomplished in a few days and that the investigator assigned to the case will be furnished the results at that time.

It should be emphasized to the subject that if no contact is made, he or she may be assured that the responses to the specific examination questions did not indicate deceptiom The subject is informed, however, that the examination covered only a specific area of the investigation and that subsequent investigation may develop additional information for inquiry.

At this time, the subject is dismissed from the examination room.

After the subject has left the examination room, the examiner carefully evaluates the charts and questions, considering the thoroughness and validity of the examination just concluded. If any doubts exist, a conference with the investigator may resolve them.

Another polygraph examination may be indicated at a later date, as additional information maybe developed, or other factors arise. An examination at a later date must comply with all procedural rules, be approved by the authorizing representative, and consented to by the individual.

DECEPTION INDICATED.- If deception is present, the examiner then interrogates the examinee and attempts to determine the causes of specific physiological responses on the charts.

INCONCLUSIVE.- When a conclusion cannot be formed following the test phase, or an examination is initiated but cannot be completed until some future date, the examination is considered inconclusive. This is normally due to a temporary physiological disorder (such as cold or minor injury), instrument failure, or the inability of examiner and examinee to establish rapport on a particular day. An inconclusive polygraph examination may be continued at a later date.

Subsequent examination may be made by the original examiner (normally within 30 days) without obtaining additional approval, although the examinee must consent to the further examination.

NO OPINION.- The examiner may render a "no opinion" conclusion when an examination cannot be completed. This may be necessary should the examinee refuse to continue the examination before the collection of polygraph charts, before sufficient charts have been obtained upon which an opinion of deception or no deception may be based, or the examinee, in the opinion of the examiner, is deliberately distorting the polygraph charts.

The conclusion of no opinion is also appropriate if the examinee suffers from a permanent psychological or physiological disorder, and the examiner is of the opinion that further testing at some future date would be unproductive or unwarranted.

Supervision and Review

Each polygraph examination is carefully supervised or reviewed by an individual who is a certified polygraph examiner and exercises quality control supervision over the polygraph examiner concerned

The supervisory individual reviews the record of polygraph examination with other pertinent investigative information and determines whether it is appropriate to request the individual to undergo a repeat polygraph examination.

Such a request may be made when considered appropriate, whether the individual examined has made significant admissions in connection with the investigation and whether the results of the examination indicate unusual physiological responses.

Determination with respect to further investigation of cases where a polygraph examination has been undertaken is not made solely by the polygraph examiner.

When the initial examination has been interpreted as inconclusive, immediate subsequent examination by the original examiner is not considered a repeat examination. Every effort is made to resolve examinations that have been interpreted as inconclusive.


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