San Benito Police Consider Changes to Hiring Process for Officers
SAN BENITO – Some local law enforcement agencies are considering making changes to their vetting process for potential candidates.
People considering going into law enforcement already go through some detailed background checks. Each police department has their own criteria.
San Benito Police Chief Michael Galvan said his department could soon start asking candidates to take a polygraph as an effort to combat corruption.
Galvan has been in law enforcement for 17 years. He’s seen the field evolve. He said there are big changes still to come.
“One of the things that we’re probably going to end up doing in the future, pretty soon, we’re weighing our options, is probably moving to a polygraph as being part of the hiring procedures here in San Benito,” he said.
Galvan said the extensive vetting is necessary to weed out potential bad employees or anyone looking to work against them.
“Whether it’s corrupt employees, or somebody that might be affiliated with some kind of gang or cartel affiliation, a lot of law enforcement agencies have seen a trend where they try infiltrate law enforcement and work from within,” he said.
Ron Garza of the Lower Rio Grande Development Council said right now, the state doesn’t require police academy candidates to take a polygraph, but it is a topic constantly up for discussion.
Still each police department can set its own criteria for hiring.
Retired Cameron County jailer Lupe Cantu said he’s not opposed to officers being asked to take a polygraph, as long as there’s a reasonable margin of error.
“Everything seems to work as it is as they have it now, like I said, as long as they work out the problems with the lie detectors that should be part of it. I don’t see where they can get any stricter than they are right now,” he said.
Ray Flores said the stricter the requirements the safer he feels. He knows corruption can’t be completely eliminated from any department.
“Anywhere, yes, regardless of where you are, what you’re in, what country you are in, that’s going to happen,” he said.
Officer candidates for San Benito police currently are required to fill out a personal history statement to disclose information about themselves.
Police department administrators then cross reference, not through phone calls, but through personal interviews with family and friends.
“That one-on-one interaction with people face to face, to see if they are lying or covering up, to see if they are truthful about the information they are giving us, because it’s crucial. That’s the information we try to use to filter out these people,” Galvan shared.
In a time where a police officers’ integrity can be questioned from social media to court room, Galvan isn’t taking any chances.
Galvan said he’s not afraid to turn down a candidate that doesn’t meet the requirements in place just to fill a spot with the department. He believes polygraph tests will be required by more and more departments across the nation.