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Courts / Law

Bill Seeks to Protect Children Through Polygraphs During Hiring

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Bay News 9

U.S. Representative Dennis Ross and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd have introduced a bill that would allow businesses whose workers interact with children to screen potential employers with polygraph testing.

At a news conference in Winter Haven on Monday, the pair unveiled the Protecting Our Children Act (POCA), which would apply to daycare centers and theme parks. The idea is that conducting polygraph exams would help keep sexual predators out of these positions.

Businesses would have to pay for the tests, and find polygraph administers, but could use the results to deny someone a job. These results would remain confidential, and could not be used to incriminate the potential employee.

Ross (R-Lakeland), who is the father of two boys, said the inspiration behind the bill isn’t strictly business; it’s personal.

"As a father, I would want my children protected,” Ross said. “I would want to know that whoever is supervising my children, at whatever activity they're at, has been asked or at least gone through the screening process to make sure that they do not have the propensity to be a sexual predator."

Last week, Polk and Lake County law enforcement officials announced they had arrested 101 people during a sex predator sting where detectives posed online as children.

If passed, this bill would change the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) that denies employers the use of polygraph tests when hiring, except in fields like law enforcement.

The Protecting Our Children Act was proposed to the House in April. Representative Ross said he hopes it will pass this session.