IOWA CITY—Iowa Public Safety Commissioner K. Brian London sought Wednesday to clarify a statement he made earlier this year in which he told employees he believed Filipinos were difficult to polygraph.
Through a spokesperson, London confirmed that he told employees months ago that, in his prior experience as an agent with the US Secret Service, “completing polygraphs with Filipinos was difficult.”
He said he brought up his experience as an example of how cultural and legal barriers can make examinations difficult, and that he did not mean to disparage their nationality or imply that they were less truthful than other races.
London briefed the office of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad about the remarks during a meeting Tuesday, said the spokesperson, Lt. Rob Hansen. On Wednesday, London convened a meeting in his office with the polygraph examiners who were present for his earlier remarks so that he could clarify them, Hansen said.
The actions came after The Associated Press in recent days questioned London and Hansen about his remarks. Based on the AP’s questions, London believed there was “a potential misunderstanding” about what he meant, Hansen said.
London denied an interview request with the AP to explain his remarks, but he sent detailed explanations through Hansen.
“Specifically, in his experience as a polygraph examiner during his service with the US Secret Service completing polygraphs with Filipinos was difficult. The language itself along with the use of an interpreter made these examinations more difficult than others in his experience,” Hansen wrote Friday.
On Monday, Hansen said London was referring to a specific polygraph exam he conducted in 1986 and “was not sharing his views regarding Filipinos in general.”
He said London was using his experience to make a point about establishing relationships with subjects with different languages and cultures, developing viable questions and understanding nonverbal communications.
“The point in this specific example is that Commissioner London had no idea of what cultural differences or value system to use in preparing questions and administering the exam. His comments were intended to illustrate this difficulty,” Hansen said.