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To Tell The Truth

June 23, 2011, 10:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

To Tell The Truth
For 35 years he's tried to get the truth out of people, but the truth be told he's met a lot of liars over his career.

Lorin Pankratz is one of very few licensed polygraph examiners in the state and helped put some of South Dakota's most hardened criminals behind bars. But tonight Pankratz makes his own confession, he's hanging it up.

This is the "hot seat." It's where Pankratz has watched women cry and grown men wet themselves.

"Over the years, people have said I've passed a polygraph test and I say well that's nice what did they ask you, if they asked you if you were involved in the Lindberg kidnapping, it doesn't matter," Pankratz said.

Pankratz says getting someone to tell the truth isn't easy, in fact, he says there is skillful art to asking questions and getting people to confess.

"I always maintain that when the two of us are sitting in a polygraph room, half the people in the room know what the outcome of the test is going to be, irrespective of what the results are, because they know whether or not they're telling the truth," Pankratz said.

Pankratz says after someone fails a polygraph test, many of them come forward with the truth.

Pankratz has questioned thousands of people over his career, but we're going to allow him to question one more, me.

The test is beginning," Pankratz said.

Lorin Pankratz: Is your name Don?
Don Jorgensen: Yes.

Lorin Pankratz: Do you get along with all your co-workers?
Don Jorgensen: Yes.

Just being hooked up to the polygraph machine is stressful. It measures your blood pressure, your heart rate and your skin response. A test can last anywhere from one to two hours; a real pressure cooker when the pressure is on.

But Pankratz screens people first, because he says not everyone is a candidate to take a lie detector test. Over the years he's declined to give people a test, because of health issues. 

"People can die in the hallway, but they are not going to die in my polygraph chair," Pankratz said.

Well at least he's honest about that.

Pankratz isn't retiring, he's also a private investigator and will continue in that line of work and he may do some consultanting work too.

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