Course Information

Owners:  The Backster School of Lie Detection is 100% owned by Gregory and JT Adams

Administrators:  Gregory C. Adams, M.A., Director and Chief Instructor; JT Adams, M.A., Deputy Director and School Registrar

Accreditation:  The Backster School of Lie Detection is accredited by the American Polygraph Association (APA).  Last APA on-site school inspection was in December 2014 and our new 3-year accreditation began in January, 2015. This accreditation is not approved by the Board of Education so federal funds are not appicable.

Veterans Benefits:  N/A. 

Description of Facilities and Training Equipment:  The Backster School of Lie Detection has returned to our San Diego location where we have been since 1976.  Training equipment is second to none.  The Backster School of Lie Detection uses modern, digital projection equipment onto either a large projection screen or onto a large, 60” flat screen television.  We also use a new ELMO overhead projection system for viewing polygraph charts and an Audience Response System to be used for student’s individual scoring of charts so that instructors can readily identify any student having problems in interpreting the physiology displayed in the charts.  The School uses modern polygraph instruments with the Lafayette LX 5000 and LX 4000 polygraph systems with hand, feet, and seat activity sensors.  All 10 stations can be fully set up with audio/video recording through digital cameras.  Maximum class size is 30 students.  The minimum student-teacher ratio with a full class of 30 throughout the course is 15:1.  There is a non-refundable deposit requirement of $500.

Basic Polygraph Examiner Training and Follow-on Courses

PE-197 Basic Polygraph Examiner Training Course:  Currently in session at our San Diego office.   It begins on January 17, 2017 and ends on March 24, 2017.  There is a $500 non-refundable deposit required.

Basic 5-day, 40-hour Post Conviction Sex Offender Testing (PCSOT) Course:  Follows the graduation of (PE-197).  It will begin on Monday, March 27-31, 2017 at our San Diego classroom.  There is a $100 non-refundable deposit requirement.

Weekend, Advanced, 30-hour PCSOT Training Course: TBD.   Note:  These are 10 hour days (usually Saturday, Sunday, and Monday).  There is a $100 non-refundable deposit required.

3-day, 24 hour Sexual Assault Polygraph Testing for Law Enforcement Course: is run concurrently with the first three days of the Basic PCSOT course from Monday, March 27 - Wednesday, March 29, 2017.  This course is highly recommended for law enforcement officers who may be required to conduct polygraph examinations on convicted sex offenders who have already taken many polygraph examinations.  In the case of a missing child or sexual offense, these convicted sex offenders individuals often need to be ruled out as suspects and the polygraph is a great tool to use.  There is a $100 non-refundable deposit requirement.

The steady growth in the utilization of the polygraph by more and more leading law enforcement agencies has demonstrated the necessity in this country for more schools that teach a thoroughly modern and effective polygraph examiner training course.  Cleve Backster was the very first polygraph school director and was the originator of The Backster Zone Comparison Tests:  1) the “You Phase” (Single-Issue), the “Exploratory” (Multi-Issue), and the SKY, (Multi-Faceted) Polygraph Tests.  These tests are the basis of modern day polygraph and Cleve was given the title of “Grandfather of the Modern Polygraph Technique”.  When Cleve entered the polygraph field in 1948, there was no way to score polygraph tests.  It was considered unethical for one examiner to look at another examiner’s charts.  Cleve developed the scoring system that is in use today.  He developed numerous other concepts still in use.  Other School Directors and professionals in the polygraph field called him the “Grand Master”.  Cleve perfected polygraph training in his School and modernized it throughout the years with over 193 basic polygraph examiner training courses.  Although Cleve passed away a couple of years ago, students of the Backster School of Lie Detection still have the unique opportunity to learn directly from the “Grand Master” through numerous videos of Cleve teaching.  

The Polygraph Examiner Training Course of the Backster School of Lie Detection is designed to provide exceptional training to all students. The main areas of study include: instrument operation, history and development, psychological and physiological issues, test question formulation, examination techniques, chart analysis, interviewing procedures, examination notepack usage, instrument maintenance and calibration, development of student skills, legal issues, examiner ethics, research methodology, etc.   Students will be shown numerous video presentations of Cleve Backster teaching various aspects of the polygraph course. 

Having completed the Polygraph Examiner Training Course, the graduate will be able to conduct valid basic polygraph tests with enhanced interview and interrogation skills. They will know what human and mechanical factors must be taken into account and what polygraph techniques and procedures to follow because of those factors. The graduate will be able to conduct pre-employment, routine screening, fidelity testing, and specific criminal and inventory-shortage examinations with confidence.

The graduate who is not with a law enforcement agency will be able to enter the field of lie detection. The law enforcement graduate will not only be entering a new field, but will be able to acquire faster departmental advancement because of this training. Post-Conviction Sex Offender Testing (PCSOT), Domestic Violence Perpetrator Testing, Drug Court Testing, and Immigration Testing are additional growing specialty fields in polygraph testing.

Specific Course Data
The title of the course is "Polygraph Examiner Training Course." The occupational objective is "Polygraph Examiner." Students, upon completion of the ten-week residential phase of the course, will be issued a certificate and a letter attesting to the fact that they satisfactorily completed this 400-hour academic residential phase. Successful completion of the overall course will depend on the student submitting a certified list of their first twenty (20) cases completed within a one year period of time immediately following the residential academic phase. During this one year period members of the Backster School staff will be available via telephone or e-mail to address specific case problems which may arise when the newly trained examiner is obtaining field experience.

A notebook computer is required for all training courses / classes. IBM compatible computers are suggested. Apple Mac Computers will work with computerized polygraph software but it requires an updated Mac Operating System and the separate purchase of Microsoft Windows. Additionally, the Mac hard drive will need to be portioned to allow Microsoft Windows to work.

The class weekday attendance is from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break. Additional instruction is presented during selected evenings and possible Saturdays. Class starting dates are provided on the enclosed schedule.

The school also conducts:

1) Annual five day (40-hour) advanced polygraph examiner refresher training course (Work Conference).
2)  5-day (40-hour) Basic Post-Conviction Sex Offender Testing Course (PCSOT)
3)  3-day (30 hour) Advanced PCSOT Course
4)  3-day (24-hour) Sexual Assault Polygraph Testing for Law Enforcement

The American Polygraph Association (APA) accredits polygraph schools and they no longer have a requirement for polygraph schools to maintain a brick and mortar classroom.   Backster School of Lie Detection is now completely mobile and will travel to other locations to conduct training.

Overall Basic Polygraph Examiner Training Course, Effective January 1, 2014 with the addition of the additional 2-weeks required by the American Polygraph Association (APA) and is calculated in total Clock Hours.

Course Descriptions:

1) Legal Issues:
Covers basic legal matters pertinent to law enforcement and commercial polygraph usage, especially as it pertains to the Federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988.  Current aspects of selected state licensing laws are discussed, along with other applicable local, state and federal regulations, including the legal status of court admissibility of polygraph evidence. Strategy regarding expert witness testimony is emphasized and students are given the opportunity to view live and videotape demonstrations. 8 hours

2) Examiner Ethics:
Included is a thorough review of the ethical obligations of the examiner to the polygraph Subject, to his department or client, to other polygraph examiners and to the polygraph profession. Additionally, the student becomes familiar with the aims and ethical standards of organizations such as the American Polygraph Association. Available information regarding state polygraph associations is disseminated. 4 hours

3) History and Evolution of Polygraph:
The selection of practical physiological parameters pertinent to the detection of deception is presented from a historical standpoint. The evolution of multicomponent polygraph instrumentation is reviewed. Technique development is traced starting with the Keeler Relevant-Irrelevant Technique, with emphasis on the important advances provided by the Reid Control Question Technique and by the Backster Zone Comparison Technique. 8 hours

4) Scientific Testing:
Instruction is provided in the field of polygraph regarding scientific testing and research. 8 hours

5) Mechanics of Instrument Operation:
Instruction is provided on the appropriate field utilization of conventional or analog Lafayette and Stoelting instrumentation (from a historical perspective) as well as computerized polygraph using instruments from all four computerized polygraph manufacturers: Lafayette; Limestone; Stoelting; and Axciton This includes the activation and operation of the chart recording unit, the galvanic skin response module, along with the mechanical and the electronic pneumograph and cardio modules. Information is provided concerning the design of permanent examination facilities. Improvised field testing facilities are also considered. 16 hours

6) Polygraph Techniques:
The student will be exposed to many of the popular polygraph techniques currently in common use. Problem areas will be assessed, as related to the strength and weakness of each of these techniques during various types of field application. Particular emphasis will be given through proper utilization of the Polygraph Examination Notepack to each of the three variations of the Backster Zone Comparison Technique. Each variation is uniquely tailored to the nature of the specific incident, the quality of the case situation and the degree of potential Subject involvement. Also, in addition to the two basic types of Peak-of-Tension tests, instruction will be given for job applicant screening, pre-employment,  and other technique variations unique to employee testing. 40 hours

7) Pre-Test Interviewing Procedures:
Pre-test interview approaches are presented, particularly as related to the use of the carefully structured Polygraph Examination Notepack and newly developed Pre-Test Interview Form.  The student learns effective interview approaches specifically related to obtaining pre-test admissions.  The effective use of interpreters is included. 32 hours

8) Post-Test Interviewing Procedures:
Post-test interview / interrogation approaches are presented. The student learns effective interrogation approaches specifically related to obtaining admissions from a subject found deceptive through meaningful interpretation of polygraph charts. 8 hours

9) Psychological Issues:
A qualified instructor reviews selected principles of basic psychology. Appropriate films and video tapes are presented, along with additional information specifically related to the appropriate application of these basic principles to modern polygraph instrumentation and sound testing techniques. 20 hours

10) Physiological Issues:
A qualified instructor reviews selected principles of basic physiology. Particular attention is given to pertinent factors of the three physiological parameters recorded by currently used polygraph instrumentation. These include the respiratory system, the cardio-vascular system and the nervous system. Electro-chemical aspects related to the galvanic skin response are discussed. Appropriate films and video tapes are presented, along with additional information specifically related to the appropriate application of these basic principles to modern polygraph instrumentation and sound testing techniques. 20 hours

11) Test Question Construction:
Using the Polygraph Examination Notepack as a guide, the student is able to effectively select the more reliable target for priority coverage during multi-issue examinations. The Notepack also provides guidelines for the proper formulation of questions relevant to the target selected and for the structuring of the control questions which are so essential to the success of all modern direct-question technique variations. There is emphasis on an effective system for the identification and correction of problems relating to improper control question formulation. The importance of semantics is stressed, particularly during frequent class question formulation exercises. 32 hours

12) Chart Analysis:
The student learns uniform chart markings and is presented a method for uniformly designating test and question types. Objective chart interpretation through use of the Backster numerical evaluation methodology is emphasized and clearly defined chart interpretation rules are presented. The strong and weak points of other systems of chart interpretation are also discussed. An orderly record of chart analysis efforts, as related to field examinations, is acquired through additional instruction in the use of the forms provided in the Polygraph Examination Notepack. 50 hours

13) Counter Measures:
The student will be shown a Counter Measure Demonstration consisting of an actual chart being run on a selected volunteer. Students will be exposed to numerous counter measure cases and charts. Additionally students will be given Mock Exams and will demonstrate various counter measures. 8 hours

14) Information / Reports:
The student will be given digital copies of current consent forms in use as well as cleaned copies of various reports. Students will be required to demonstrate report writing proficiency with actual turn-in of a report regarding their Night Practical Examination. 2 Hours.

15) Mock Examinations:
The student will be exposed to many of the popular polygraph techniques currently in common use. Problem areas will be assessed, as related required to conduct numerous Mock Examinations during the course of instruction. 80 hours

16) Electives:
Each course is conducted based on the abilities and skills of the student attendees. As time permits, students will be exposed to as much additional material as possible throughout the 10-week course. These additional hours of instruction generally do not fall within one of the designated parameters established by the American Polygraph Association (APA). 74 hours

17) Field Project:
On January 1, 2014, the American Polygraph Association (APA) added an additional 2-weeks  (80 hours) to the residential phase of academic training program.  With the additional 80-hours, students will conduct approximately 10 Mock Examinations during the academic phase of the basic polygraph course. The Backster School of Lie Detection has thus reduced the Field Project Polygraph Requirement from 30 polygraphs down to 20 polygraphs required to complete the Full Course of Instruction and receive the final course graduation certificate. 120 hours



Gregory C. Adams, M.A., Director and Chief Instructor: 
(Certified Primary and PCSOT Instructor)

Gregory Adams holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology/Criminal Justice from Regis College in Denver, Colorado and a Master of Arts degree in Psychology from Chapman University in Orange, California. He has held various positions in both military and civilian law enforcement since 1975. Greg has attended innumerable training course including the Command College, Agency Administration and Executive Leadership courses. He was the Distinguished Honor Graduate of the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation District Attorney Investigator's School and the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission Academy.

In 2002 Greg retired as a Military Police Major from the United States Army Reserves after 31 years of active and reserve service. He served as both an enlisted soldier and a commissioned officer with several overseas tours and an assignment as an instructor for Military Police Officer Advance Course at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Following his retirement as a municipal Chief of Police in Washington State, Greg successfully completed the Polygraph Examiner Training Course conducted by the Backster School of Lie Detection.

In December 2004, Greg was invited to return to the Backster School of Lie Detection as an instructor and polygraph examiner. This has provided him a unique opportunity to receive extensive and advanced training directly from Cleve Backster.  He has been the Principal/Primary Instructor since 2005.  In 2009, Greg received the Outstanding Graduate Award from Cleve Backster and the Backster School of Lie Detection in recognition of hard work and dedication to the polygraph profession and with Cleve Backster's passing in June, 2013, Greg is now the Co-owner, Director and Chief Instructor.

JT Adams, M.A., Deputy Director and Registrar: 
(Certified Primary Instructor)

JT Adams earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with Counseling emphasis from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and a Master of Arts degree from Alameda University in June of 2000.  She has held various positions in the counseling field, providing a variety of services, including three internships.
Early in 2005, JT attended the Backster School of Lie Detection in San Diego, California where she completed the Basic Polygraph Examiner Training Course and Basic Post Conviction Sex Offender Training Course.  The Backster School of Lie Detection is accredited by the American Polygraph Association and enjoys a world-wide reputation second to none.  In July, 2005, JT was hired by Backster Associates as a polygraph examiner under the direct mentorship of Cleve Backster. 
In March, 2008, JT was awarded an APA Certified Primary Instructor Certificate and she became involved in teaching at the Backster School of Lie Detection.  Later that year, JT was appointed as the School Registrar and she remains in that capacity today.  
JT received the Outstanding Graduate Award directly from Cleve Backster in December, 2011 in recognition of hard work and dedication to the polygraph profession.  With the passing of Cleve Backster in June, 2013, JT became co-owner of the School. 

Carol Atkinson, Ph.D. (Clinical Psychology); MS (Nursing):
American Polygraph Association Certified Primary Instructor and PCSOT Instructor.
Carol Atkinson received an Associates, Bachelor's, and Master’s Degree in Nursing and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology with a Forensic Emphasis.   She is a graduate of the Backster School of Lie Detection and continues to serve on numerous high level California State and other Professional Organizations.  Dr. Atkinson has provided training to numerous examiners in the field and has conducted several professional training seminars.   Carol currently teaches Psychology, Physiology, and Post-Conviction Sex Offender Testing (PCSOT).

James Allan Matte,  Ph.D., Textbook Author, Researcher, and Originator of the Matte Quadri-Track Technique
Jim Matte is a former Special Agent of the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) USAF, and a retired C.I.D. Special Agent, USA. He is a 1972 graduate of the Backster School of Lie Detection, and the author of three textbooks and a supplement on forensic psychophysiology using the polygraph, plus numerous published scientific studies on forensic psychophysiology. (  Jim teaches the Matte Quadri-Track Technique and Research.

Chris Fausett, Vice-President, Lafayette Instrument Company
Chris is a graduate of a polygraph course but does not run active polygraphs.  Chris teaches instrumentation in both analog and computerized polygraph.  Analog polygraph is taught as a historical basis as APA and ASTM International standards prohibit polygraph examiners from using any polygraph instrument that does not have, at a minimum, one recorded activity sensor. 

Scott Smith, J.D., Criminal Investigator Attorney and Polygraph Examiner
Scott is a graduate of the Backster School of Lie Detection and currently works for the Colorado Department of Corrections running active polygraphs for the Inspector General’s Office.  Scott teaches legal issues in polygraph.

Raymond Nelson, M.S.,  Current APA President and lead Polygraph Researcher for APA and AAPP. 

He was a former therapist dealing with convicted sex offenders and currently works at the Lafayette Instrument Company.   He teaches Psychology, Physiology, and Post-Conviction Sex Offender Testing (PCSOT), and Research Methodology.

Frank Westrum, M.S., retired 28 years with the Washington State Department of Health.  Formerly an Anatomy and Physiology Instructor with Seattle University.  Frank teaches Physiology.

Other Guest Instructors:  Includes current prominent attorneys, law enforcement officers and other appropriate professionals in related disciplines depending upon location and availability.

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