The revelation is the latest irregularity to surface in the career background of Tyler, who in July was hired as the director of training at the Albuquerque Police Department Academy
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
Jessica Tyler failed two pre-employment lie detector tests in 1998 and 1999 — one on a drug usage question — when she applied to become a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy, a situation that should have precluded her hiring as a law enforcement officer, ABQ Free Press has learned.
But then-Sheriff Joe Bowdich ran interference for Tyler, then Jessica Eversgerd, and ordered the BCSO’s polygraph examiner to give her another test, the examiner told ABQ Free Press Thursday. That subsequent test resulted in an “inconclusive” result and allowed Bowdich to hire her, the examiner said.
It is the latest irregularity to surface in the professional background of Tyler, who in July was hired as director of training at the Albuquerque Police Department Academy without being subjected to a background check as required by APD policy.
In the case of the 1998 polygraph test, the examiner, Ruben Barela, said he was called to Bowdich’s office after Tyler failed the polygraph test Barela had administered to her on Sept. 27, 1998. Barela said he was told by the then-sheriff to give her another test. “He told me her family were friends and we needed to give her another polygraph,” Barela said. “I said, ‘If she fails you can’t hire her per the union contract.’ It was an automatic disqualification,” Barela said.
Under the contract at the time between the sheriff’s deputies union and the BCSO, a failed polygraph test disqualified a candidate from being hired by the department, Barela said. But the sheriff had the authority under the contract to hire a candidate whose lie test came back “inconclusive,” Barela said.
Bowdich told ABQ Free Press he remembered Tyler “had gone through at least twice.” “If it [a polygraph] is inconclusive, we give them a chance to take it again,” Bowdich said. “I won’t discuss anything about personnel. I did not have any close relationship with the family.”
Tyler has said she was hired by the sheriff’s office in 2000.
Tyler, who is facing the loss of her law enforcement license for allegedly violating BSCO rules when she was a chief deputy there, failed a question on drug usage during the polygraph she was given on September 27, 1998, Barela said. Tyler’s test record, which is on file with the Albuquerque Police Department and was obtained by ABQ Free Press, shows her first test resulted in a “Deception indicated” result, which means she failed, Barela said.
Tyler failed a second lie detector test given by APD’s polygraph examiner, M.A. Johnson, on Jan. 4, 1999, records show. That test also resulted in a “Deception indicated” finding. It was unclear why Tyler was tested a third time.
Tyler was not immediately available for comment for this story Thursday. The public relations firm that has represented her said it would have an official statement later in the day.
Tyler appeared on KKOB-AM 770 radio on Thursday morning to defend herself against allegations that she violated BCSO policy when she worked there and that she put on a reserve deputy training academy that cost county taxpayers $25,000. Of the 12 people who were in that academy earlier this year, only two were from Bernalillo County. Ten were from Sandoval County where Tyler’s husband, Bob Tyler was, until recently, in charge of the reserve deputies for Sandoval County.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales opened an internal affairs investigation in July into Tyler and her handling of the reserve deputy training academy. The investigation found that Tyler didn’t tell Gonzales or other BCSO personnel that a plan she had worked up to get the Legislature to pay for the academy had fallen through in March 2014. Gonzales also said he didn’t know of the academy and that he had no written proof that his predecessor, Sheriff Dan Houston, had authorized it. Gonzales has asked the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board to revoke Tyler’s law enforcement license. A hearing has yet to be scheduled in the case.
Thursday’s revelations mean that Tyler has been the recipient of broken or bent rules at least twice in her career. More recently, when Tyler was hired to head APD’s training academy, the job wasn’t advertised as it had been when it was open in 2012. APD Chief Gorden Eden later said he didn’t do a full background check on Tyler. Every APD cop applicant has to undergo a full background check before being hired, according to department policy.
Barela said he did polygraph exams for BCSO for about four years, performing about 50 exams a year. About three out of ten applicants failed their tests, Barela said. He added that in his four years of doing exams, he was ordered only twice to give new tests to the applicants — in Tyler’s case and in the case of the son of a then-Bernalillo County commissioner.
Barela said that after Tyler failed the first polygraph test, he got a phone call from BCSO’s psychologist asking why she had failed. “When I told him there was nothing I could do, I got a call from the sheriff,” Barela said. “The sheriff did not discuss this over the phone; he had me come to his office. He asked for specifics on her polygraph and why she had failed and what questions she had failed and said he wanted me to give her another test.”
“You don’t normally get a call up to the fifth floor when somebody fails a polygraph,” Barela said. “I pretty much knew at that point that it seemed like a political situation.”
Dennis Domrzalski is an associate editor at ABQ Free Press.
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