The Use of Technology
Proper software, solutions have help identify potentially bad hires
- By Todd Mickelsen
- Dec 02, 2020
Customers and the public trust security firms to safeguard
people, places and information. This trust
is quickly destroyed when security staff commit a
crime, which is often due to inadequately prescreening
job candidates during the interview process.
“Since guards are trusted with customer access codes and/or
keys to their facility, it’s imperative to have an efficient and thorough
screening process,” said Brett Magleby of Salt Lake City-based
Panther Security & Investigations. “It is a huge liability for
a security company to have someone knowingly dishonest in a
customer building or secure site. They can quickly lose a security
firm’s contracts by doing something dishonest.”
BAD PRESS FOR SECURITY FIRMS
This liability has reared its ugly head and repeatedly documented
over the year in news stories. For example, last April an off-duty
security guard was arrested and charged with assault. In March, a
story broke that more than 600 weapons from the world’s largest
security company were reported lost or stolen since 2009. And in
January, a security guard was convicted of falsification of evidence
as a police officer, disorderly conduct and theft.
In one of the more extreme examples of a bad hire, in 2017 a
New Jersey security guard was accused of stealing $100,000 on his
first (and last) day at work from his new employer’s armored truck.
SCREENING OPTIONS FOR NEW HIRES
According to recently published research, the U.S. security
services market is estimated to reach $39.1 billion this year. With
this market growing an average of 2.8% annually between 2015
and 2020, it’s more important than ever for security firms to have
a system in place for hiring honest, trustworthy staff.
Unfortunately, there may be disqualifying activities in a job
candidate’s history that an interview, personality test, integrity
test, background investigation, fingerprint check or drug test
may not uncover. Many criminals are never caught. And screening
tests or background checking systems are poor at detecting
deception or simply aren’t designed to do so.
For example, a personal interview is only 54% accurate at detecting
deception1, and an integrity test is only 53-64% accurate2.
Personality or integrity tests aren’t capable of measuring or detecting
The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) prohibits
any U.S. company in the private sector from using a lie detector
on employees, except for three exemptions. One of those exemptions
includes security companies. Per the statute, if the technology meets
the functional definition of a polygraph, then it can be used to prescreen
“prospective employees of armored car, security alarm, and
security guard firms who protect facilities, materials or operations....”
However, the lie detection technology used must meet the government’s
functional definition of a polygraph. It is required to
capture the following physiological data: cardiovascular, respiration
and electrodermal activity. In simple terms, these are breathing activity,
heart rate, blood pressure and sweat/skin conductance. Measurements
are recorded and analyzed to detect these physiological
changes and correlate them to statements made about questions.
During a polygraph test, the testing equipment (2 corrugated
tubes, blood pressure cuff, 2 finger sensors, and motion sensor mat)
is placed on the chest, abdomen, upper arm and fingers of the examinee.
The examiner sits in close proximately to the examinee.
One examiner can conduct an average of 3 tests per day, and each
test ranges from 1.5 to 5 hours. Preparation of the test results can
take hours. Polygraph screening exam costs can cost up to $250.
The first modern polygraph was invented in 1921. The FBI
began using it in 1939. A polygraph’s average accuracy in detecting
deception is 87%3.
A new lie detection method, EyeDetect by Converus, was introduced
in 2014. It also referred to as an ocular-motor test, and
is an automated computer-based test that uses a high-definition
eye tracker to measure involuntary changes in the eyes and reading
behaviors while a person answers true/false questions during
a 30-minute screening test or 15-minute test on specific alleged
crimes. Involuntary eye behaviors include pupil dilation, blink
rate and other eye movements. These measurements have been
shown to be linked with increases in cognitive load, which have
been associated with deception.
Because the test is automated and the results are computed by algorithms
in the cloud, no examiner is used, eliminating the possibility
of human bias. The automation, along with the ability to monitor
tests remotely, allows for safe social distancing during testing.
Results are available in less than 5 minutes. Research studies
show the solution is 88% accurate4.
The standard test doesn’t meet the functional definition of a
polygraph and therefore cannot be used by U.S. security companies.
But that changed last June when Converus released its newest
version, called “Physio Tracker,” which gathers similar physiological
data as captured by a standard polygraph instrument:
cardiovascular, respiration and electrodermal activity.
THE TRUTH ABOUT LIE DETECTORS
Keep in mind the perfect lie detector test doesn’t exist. All tests
have a margin of error. They can give false-positive results and falsenegative
results. EyeDetect’s automated test minimizes false positives
(when an innocent person is determined by the test to be guilty).
This article originally appeared in the November / December 2020 issue of Security Today.