Border Patrol hiring spree comes with risk

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Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is recommending weakening the lie detector requirement for Border Patrol agents. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is recommending weakening the lie detector requirement for Border Patrol agents. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

One of President Donald Trump's signature goals is to increase law enforcement presence along the U.S. border with Mexico. It's less controversial and certainly less publicized than the idea of building a border wall.

But if history serves as a guide, this goal may be tough to achieve as well.

Trump's plan calls for hiring an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents. But right now, the agency is having a tough time filling its currently open positions.

[RELATED: Border Patrol struggles to meet hiring quota]

One of the obstacles commonly mentioned is a stringent polygraph test required of all applicants. An Associated Press investigation earlier this year showed that two-thirds of the applicants are failing the test. The AP says that failure rate is higher than the usual 50 percent other law enforcement agencies see.

As a result, there are calls for the agency to weaken the lie detector requirement. Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake introduced a bill that would do just that.

"We're not proposing to get rid of any lie detector test," said Flake, during an interview from Capitol Hill this week. Flake says his bill would waive the requirement for certain law enforcement officers and military veterans who have already taken a polygraph.

[RELATED: Best CBP estimates say hiring could take decade]

"People fear that moving from one law enforcement position to another, in this case to the Border Patrol, they fear that they'll have a false positive and then they won't be able to go back to where they were or move to another career in law enforcement," said Flake.

But a 2013 Government Accountability Office audit recommended increasing, rather than decreasing, the use of the polygraph. The audit identified 144 Customs and Border Protection employees, who were arrested for corruption-related activities between 2005 and 2012. Congress passed a law requiring the polygraph test for applicants in 2010. That was after President George W. Bush doubled the size of the Border Patrol. Reports of misconduct among agents rose during those years.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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