Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Israel: Polygraph Tests for Police Officers in Sensitive Positions Authorized

(Apr. 30, 2018) On April 17, 2018, the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved Israel Police rules for the examination of applicants’ suitability for police force positions. (Press Release, Knesset, Interior Committee Approves Regulations for Examination of Suitability and Polygraph Tests for Police Officers in Sensitive Positions (Apr. 17, 2018), Knesset website (in Hebrew).)

Authority to Issue Rules on Suitability and Polygraph Testing

The police rules were issued on the basis of authorization granted under Amendment No. 33 of the Police Ordinance. (Police Ordinance (Amendment No. 33) Law 5777-2017, SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, official gazette] 5777 No. 2659 p. 1141 (in Hebrew), amending the Police Ordinance (New Version) 5731-1971, 17 DINE MEDINAT YISRAEL (Nusah Hadash) [LAWS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL (New Version)] 39, as amended (in Hebrew).)

According to the Amendment Law, suitability-testing requirements for applicants for police positions were intended to ensure the ethical and efficient functioning of the police force and the strengthening of public confidence in the police, while protecting the privacy of the applicants. (Id. § 1, amending § 24a of the Ordinance.) The Amendment Law provides that suitability testing must be conducted in accordance with the clearance level required for the job and in a manner, to the extent possible, that does not harm the applicant’s right to privacy. (Id. § 1, amending § 24d of the Ordinance.)

Polygraph testing is expressly authorized by the Amendment Law for certain positions and can be used only for the purpose of disclosure and prevention of serious crimes and ethical violations that may harm the police or public trust in it. (Id. § 1, amending § 24e(b) of the Ordinance.) A decision to conduct a polygraph test must be made in writing and include reasons for its use. The decision must be made by a committee composed of (1) the Commissioner-General or his deputy, (2) the legal advisor to the Israel Police, and (3) the Head of the Disciplinary Department of the Israel Police. (Id. § 1, amending § 24f(a) of the Ordinance.)

The Amendment Law authorizes the Commissioner-General to issue detailed professional guidelines for conducting polygraph testing. (Id. § 1, amending § 24g of the Ordinance.)

Police Rules on Polygraph Testing

The rules approved by the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee determine the circumstances in which a polygraph test may also be performed as part of job-suitability tests. The use of the polygraph test is limited to certain candidates and holders of high-level police positions, and to other candidates for various positions if a committee headed by the Commissioner or his deputy has a serious concern that the candidate’s level of clearance may not be suitable for the job. (Press Release, supra.)

The rules provide that the subjects that can be examined for determining employment suitability include involvement in criminal offenses, the use of psychotropic substances, and contact with criminal elements. Additional subjects may include the unauthorized delivery of classified information and the perpetration of acts that violate integrity. (Id.)

A polygraph test may include only questions that arose in the compatibility test. Such questions are limited to criminal offenses perpetrated by the applicant after attaining the age of 18, the applicant’s use of dangerous drugs, the unauthorized delivery of classified information, the exploitation of relations of authority or dependence, and the fulfilling official duties under conflict of interest. (Id.)