Canada: “Cops Praise New Lie-Detector”

Ajay Bhardwaj reports for the Edmonton Sun.

Cops and the City of Camrose are lauding a new lie-detector-type tool even though critics say it gives police the power to intimidate people accused of committing crimes.

The computer voice-stress analyser (CVSA), which purports to pick up tremors in the voice when a person is lying, is already in use by the Camrose Police Service. Cops say it’s another investigational tool.

“If you didn’t do anything wrong, there’s nothing to worry about,” said Camrose Mayor Norman Mayer. “I suppose it would be intimidating if you did something wrong because you know that something’s going to show up. But maybe you should be intimidated if you’re causing problems.”

Staff Sgt. Peter Ratcliff of the Edmonton Police Association agreed.

“The results can lead you to other avenues for investigation,” said Ratcliff. “There’s probably been a lot of people who’ve confessed on a polygraph because they feel pressure they put upon themselves. I don’t see this thing going any farther than the polygraph right now. I think it’s a good idea. “

It’s another one of those things that we have to use to get evidence to solve crimes. It’s intimidating if you’ve done something.”

Smaller police departments are using the $10,000 US tool, which many say is more accurate than a polygraph.

But Sanjeev Anand, a professor of criminal law at the University of Alberta, said any evidence gained from a CVSA test wouldn’t be admissible in court.

“It’s one possible tool but if it’s not probitive enough to be admissible in court you wonder how much they should be relying on it, even in their investigations,” said Anand.

Ratcliff said anyone who is convicted using a CVSA is likely to challenge it in court.

Camrose Mayor Norman Mayer is either woefully misinformed, a fool, or both if he truly believes that “if you didn’t do anything wrong, there’s nothing to worry about.” Voice stress analysis, like polygraphy, has no scientific basis whatsoever. See the CVSA and Other Voice Stress Analysis Applications forum of the message board for further discussion of this pseudoscience.

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