“Auroran Protests Use of Polygraph Exams: Man Wants Probation Requirement for Tests Thrown Out”

Denver Post staff writer Ryan Morgan reports. Excerpt:

Thursday, December 26, 2002 – Ben Aragon swears he’s telling the truth.

The polygraph machine he’s hooked up to isn’t so sure.

So Aragon, who has been taking polygraph exams since he was put on probation for sexually assaulting his girlfriend two years ago, is fighting the machine.

He’s armed with a study issued by the National Academy of Sciences in October calling polygraphs junk science and urging the federal government to stop using the devices.

The Aurora man has to take the tests as a condition of his probation several times a year, but he wants that requirement thrown out. He has protested to his probation officers and shared the study with them.

“Ain’t that wild, that they can’t use it for national security or jobs at an airport, yet they’re using it as a form of punishment?” Aragon asked.

One of the study’s authors agrees with Aragon’s assessment.

“It’s an imprecise instrument,” said Kevin Murphy, a professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. “There are circumstances where people tend to give it a lot more deference than they should, and this would be an instance of probably making high-stakes decisions on the basis of polygraph exams, which may not be the best idea.”

Polygraph Dragnet at Jefferson County, Colorado Sheriff’s Department

Rocky Mountain News staff writers Jeff Kass, Kevin Vaughan and Lynn Bartels report in an article titled, “Jeffco vows to find who leaked photos.” Excerpt:

Employees in the Jefferson County sheriff’s department will be given lie detector tests in the coming days as officials try to determine how more than 60 secret Columbine High School crime scene photos were leaked.

Sheriff John Stone and Undersheriff John Dunaway will be at the head of the line.

“If it’s necessary to use the polygraph to resolve this matter, I’ll take the first one, and the sheriff certainly will do so as well,” Dunaway said.

He said neither he nor Stone, the only two officials with the authority to release any of the 10,000 or so crime scene photos, had done so.

“I would resign in a heartbeat over an issue like that,” Dunaway said of allegations the photos were intentionally leaked.

Two years ago, Stone and Dunaway incurred the wrath of Columbine families when they allowed a Time magazine reporter to watch videos taped by Klebold and Harris after refusing to let the families see them.

At least two internal affairs investigators have been assigned to the case, launched Tuesday after a Rocky Mountain News report. Dunaway said two photos faxed to him by the News appear to be authentic.

Investigators will compile a list of dozens “who may be asked to cooperate with this investigation,” spokeswoman Jacki Tallman said. She said it’s unclear how many may submit to a polygraph test.

“We aren’t lining people up like cattle,” she said.

“Campus Police Asking for DNA Samples”

A Colorado football player submits to polygraph in gang rape investigation. The Associated Press discusses the use of scientific (DNA) and nonscientific (polygraph) investigative techniques in a report provided on ESPN.com. Excerpt:

Campus police have asked some Colorado football players to provide DNA samples as investigators look into a student’s claim she was gang raped at a party for recruits. . .

Only one football player with significant playing time on the nation’s No. 3-ranked team has been mentioned in connection with the accusations, Barnett said in a statement released by the athletic department Saturday. The coach did not identify the player and said he voluntarily took a lie detector test.

“The results indicate that the student-athlete was not complicit in this alleged activity,” Barnett said.

Results of pseudoscientific polygraph “tests” should never be relied upon by police when determining whether to include or exclude an individual as a suspect in a criminal investigation.