Congressman pushing for polygraph tests for anyone who works with children

The goal is weed out sexual predators

LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida congressman is starting his push to crack down on people who prey on children.

Dennis Ross, a Lakeland Republican, wants to strap people to a lie detector test when they apply for jobs to work with kids, like at theme parks or day cares.

"Let's give them one more tool," Ross told reporters Friday morning.

Since the late 80s, Congress banned most companies from using the polygraph test to screen candidates except in government jobs or police agencies.

Ross is proposing to expand it to people who work with kids in what he's labeling the Protect our Children Act.

"Hopefully we'll be able to stop them before they even get employed in an environment that will only further their exploitation as a sexual predator," Ross said.

A CNN investigation that aired this week found that at least 35 Disney employees have been arrested since 2006 for sex crimes off the clock.

The theme park fires them right away, but Ross believes the polygraph test may be able to weed the predators out before they're even hired.

The new bill would not require employers to utilize the polygraph test, it just makes it available to them. It's totally up to the theme parks, day care centers and other private companies that work directly with children. Teachers in Florida would be exempt from having to take these type of tests under current state law.

A Disney spokesman said the company would consider any measure that would help protect kids.

"Providing a safe environment for children and families is a responsibility we take very seriously," the statement said. "We have extensive measures in place, including pre-employment and ongoing criminal background checks and computer monitoring and firewalls."

Parents seem to be on board for extra screening procedures.

"It can't be a bad thing if we're protecting our children. That's what it's all about," said Richard Vogt of Valrico, who spent the day watching his 6-year-old grandson.

While Vogt likes the idea, he questions whether it will work.

"There's a lot of people that can actually fake their way through those tests because they've been in those situations before and they know how to monitor their heart beat," he said.

Randy Rey, who has been in law enforcement for 40 years, said it's the best tool we have to find out if someone is lying.

"Is it perfect? No. Is it a great investigative tool? Yes," said Rey, who is currently the president of the Florida Polygraph Association.

He said there's no reason not to to use the tool that has worked wonders in finding the best police officers in departments around the country.

"Once they've used it, they almost all will tell you that they will never hire anyone else unless they took a polygraph. That's how successful it is," he said.

Ross hopes to get the Protect Our Children Act passed before the November election.

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