The Police Department in Eugene, Oregon wants sweeping changes to it’s background check criteria. This follows a lawsuit brought by 6 officers for $1.75 million against a former officer (Jeffrey Argo) and the city. While the department has not addressed the Argo case specifically they have intimated they would like a polygraph test factored in to it’s background check process. The 6 officers are claiming that former officer Argo recorded them urinating along with them in varying states of undress. Their claim is that if a complete and thorough background check had been carried out Jeffrey Argo would have been declared unfit to hold the position of officer.
A statement from the department confirms that an extensive and rigorous background check procedure already exists that can take anything up to 6 months to complete inclusive psychological testing along with checks in to personal history. Further that the screening process is ongoing even post hiring. Additional screening steps have been added recently and the department is now looking to add a polygraph test. Most states are able to polygraph potential officers but Oregon is barred by law. However the department is working continuously with legislature as the tool is seen as a must have.
The sentencing of Jeffrey Argo took place in May for 7 years in relation to an unrelated case of encouraging child sex abuse. The 6 officers in question are 5 from the Eugene police department and 1 from Gresham. Argo was hired in 2012 and the claimants maintain that the background check was inadequate prior to hiring. The group maintain that the city would have been forewarned over the fitness of Argo for the role if a rigorous and more stringent background check would have been carried out. The city and The Eugene Police Department are yet to comment on the case.
Please follow this link for the original article on the charges in April. The charges included filming his fellow officers along with the possession and duplicating of pornographic images (children). A guilty pleas was entered in Deschutes County Circuit Court on 21 counts. The charges centred around crimes which were committed in Lane, Deschutes, Clackamas and Marion counties.
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