Police Say Voice Analyzer Is Unreliable Lie Detector Technology
Although some experts say Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA) technology is not as reliable as the polygraph lie detectors, CVSA is being used more and more by police forces around the country. The University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD) in College Park, Md., has used CVSA over the past three years for vetting potential hires. The technology has also been used in a few criminal investigations.
CVSA comprises a voice analyzer that is installed into computers at a cost of about $10,000 to $13,000, compared to roughly $6,000 for a polygraph lie detector, according to the American Polygraph Association. The analyzer examines sound changes in a person’s voice to determine if he or she is lying.
Thomas Mauriello, an ex-University Police detective, wonders on what basis the frequency changes are assessed. Dan Seiler, secretary of the Maryland Polygraph Association, notes that polygraphs are currently up to 95 percent reliable, compared to up to 50 percent for CVSA. He adds that CVSA is generally used for its psychological impact on people.
UMPD’s Maj. Cathy Atwell similarly says CVSA is used by her department not to see if a person is lying but for its psychological effect. “The hope is that [candidates] will be more forthcoming” with the analyzer present, especially for important interview questions like those referring to a person’s criminal history, she says. Atwell adds that when analyzers are used for criminal investigations, participation is voluntary.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Diamondback (06/08/06); Arias, Jeremy .