Horry County Police now using polygraph tests on applicants

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The Horry County Police Department recently revamped its hiring process. It now includes more in-depth background checks, a psychological exam, and for the first time, a polygraph test.

“We want people who are passionate about wanting to get out and help the community,” said Officer Jodi Ridgeway, who was tasked with restructuring the background checks. “We want to build the public’s trust again and the only way to do that is to get the patrol officers who want to do this position for the right reasons.”

In the past, the department did the basics when looking through potential candidates.

“There was really no extensive background investigation done other than just your NCIC and psychological examination,” said Ridgeway. Her revamped background checks now include looking through potential hires’ social media accounts, home visits and talking with neighbors, current employers and former employers.

“I pretty much dig up treasures they forgot they had,” said Ridgeway. “That actually eliminates a lot of applicants.”

If the candidate passes Ridgeway’s background check, they move on to the polygraph test.

“I can’t find out everything and when I can’t, the polygraph will,” said Ridgeway. The tests run about $200-300 each and are paid for by the department.

Ridgeway said the process has allowed them to eliminate more people than they’ve hired. She said after the last round of polygraph tests, eight of the 15 applicants were turned away.

A psychological exam is another part of the process, though the department has been doing those for years.

“That’s more so just to determine someone’s mentality to do the job that we do every day,” said Ridgeway.

The entire process could take eight to 12 weeks to complete but Ridgeway said they don’t want to rush.

“We are looking not only for the best qualified candidates but for future leaders,” she added. “We want folks who are going to come into our department and want to make a career out of it.”

Ridgeway said while the process helps the department, their focus is on the community.

“We need the community to know that we want to build that trust back so they know that we’re not here just for the bad we’re here for the good,” she added.

All new hires will go through this strict background check process.