This is the second year in a row that AC has been the only community college in Texas to serve as a host site for the National Polygraph Academy. The extensive 10-week academy is designed to provide participants with the knowledge necessary to administer polygraph exams and to sit for state licensing exams.
Academy classes – June 5 to Aug. 11 – are conducted daily in the shadow of the Criminal Justice Department on AC’s West Campus. Students representing law enforcement and governmental agencies from as far away as Arizona, Minnesota and Washington are taking part in the 400-hour training program.
“Amarillo College is a good fit because its Criminal Justice Program has a great reputation, and people in law enforcement like the atmosphere of a college campus,” National Polygraph Academy trainer Mike Gougler said.
According to Gougler, the academy provides training consistent with the American Polygraph Association’s Standards of Practice and U.S. government standards.
“The professionals we serve and the departments they work for make huge commitments to attend this training, but the ramifications of a polygraph mistake are huge,” Gougler said. “Lives are at stake. That’s why this training is so intensive and why we take it so seriously.”
During the 10-week course, students study everything from polygraph history and terminology to physiology, psychology and ethics. They address the composition of test questions, interviewing skills, test evaluation, report writing, preparing for court testimony, and more. They practice test each other and College volunteers.
“It’s been really intense with nightly study I wasn’t entirely expecting, but I’m excited to take this knowledge back to the job,” said Dylan Graffious of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Phoenix, Ariz. “We have a big department, yet we have only two people qualified to conduct polygraph exams. I think they will be glad when I return and can pitch in and help.”
Yuri Herrera of the Odessa Police Department is pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Tarleton State University and says she appreciates the opportunity to undertake polygraph training in the academic surroundings of Amarillo College.
“This location is very comfortable and also has been very convenient for me,” Herrera said. “We use the polygraph in Odessa for both pre-employment screenings and criminal investigations, but we only have one person qualified to conduct exams. We can no longer afford to work around one person’s schedule, so I’m really grateful to be gaining these capabilities,” she said.