Suwannee Democrat

Mayo Free Press

October 25, 2012

Lisa Long -

Mayo — With almost 25 years in law enforcement and nearly18 of those years at the State Attorney’s Office, Chief Investigator Lisa Long knows her job like the back of her hand. She recently explained the ins and outs of polygraph (lie detector) tests, which can now be done with digital computerized instrumentation, rather than the old style analog machines you typically see in movies or on television.

“It’s all I’ve ever done since I got out of school,” said Long of her law enforcement career.

She is originally from Lakeland in Polk County and when she graduated from the University of Florida she said she really thought she wanted to become an attorney.

“I had worked with Robert Leonard, who was sheriff in Suwannee County at that time as a dispatcher during my summer job at college,” she said.

While studying at UF with those original aspirations of becoming an attorney, she soon graduated with a degree in economics. Eventually, however, she decided she didn’t want to work in those fields, so she called Sheriff Leonard and asked if she could come back as a dispatcher. He agreed.

“I never took the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and I never made it to law school,” she said. “I got with the sheriff’s office and I just loved it.”

She started off as a dispatcher, then went on to become a school resource officer in Suwannee County. She eventually left and went to Florida State University Police Department (FSUPD) because she wanted to go back to school and get her masters degree.

After serving on the FSUPD for two years, Suwannee County was calling her back home. By that time she knew law enforcement was the career she wanted to pursue and so she got back on with the sheriff’s office.

“In 1997 a position opened with the State Attorney’s office as an investigator,” she said. “They didn’t have a female investigator, so I went over there and interviewed for that job and I got it. I’ve been there ever since.”

She spent about seven or eight years working with crimes against children and physical abuse for the state attorney’s office. She had a one-year break in service in 1999, however, when she took a position with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as a bodyguard for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

When that job ended she went back to the state attorney’s office. In July 2008, the chief investigator retired and she got the position. Part of her duties are to do the polygraph tests, so she was sent to Atlanta for an eight week training class. Long said she has never taken any law enforcement college courses, although, she has completed many training programs. The polygraph class, she said, was the hardest class she has ever taken and she had doubts as to whether or not she could get through it, but she did.

“It was extremely intensive,” she said.

She’s been doing the polygraph tests now for about seven years. Polygraph tests, she said, are just one portion of an investigation.

“A criminal investigation is a puzzle and it takes all kinds of pieces to make the puzzle, so that you understand what is going on,” she said.

Requests for polygraph tests come from various sources like sheriffs, detectives, or attorneys within her office who are investigating crimes. The vast majority are felony crimes, she added.

Basically, what the polygraph test does is measure and record what happens in a person’s central nervous system in response to questions asked during the test, which takes about two hours from start to finish.

The Third Circuit State Attorney’s Office encompasses seven counties and Long stays quite busy doing polygraph tests for criminal investigations. Pre-employment polygraph tests for law enforcement she said are handled by others.

Lafayette County Clerk of Courts Ricky Lyons volunteered to be the participant for Long’s demonstration of how a polygraph test works and he sat quietly as Long hooked up all the wire leads on his body. As she asked him sample questions and he answered, everyone watched the graphs move across the computer screen.

The entire process was painless for Lyons, other than the fact he was more than ready to have the blood pressure cuff removed from his arm because his hand was falling asleep.

Polygraph tests, Long said, are sometimes just a fact finding mission and they are a good investigative tool.

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