John Tuohy reports for the Indianapolis Star in an article titled, “Voice analyzers draw praise, flak.” Excerpt:
Police departments across Indiana and the country are spending thousands of dollars apiece on a truth verification device that some scientists say doesn’t work.
The Computer Voice Stress Analyzer, designed by a former Indianapolis Police Department officer, claims to help officers assess truthfulness by measuring changes in one’s voice.
Eighty-five Indiana police departments, including IPD, use the machines, which start at $10,700 each.
The designer, Charles Humble, now is chairman and CEO of the National Institute for Truth Verification, which makes the machines. In its literature, the Palm Beach, Fla., company touts it as “a very reliable investigative tool for verifying statements of witnesses, denials of suspects and for determining the validity of allegations made against police officers.”
But several scientific experiments have shown the machine, which went on the market in 1988, is no more than 50 percent reliable — in other words, a coin toss.
In addition, the manufacturer conceded in a product liability lawsuit in California that the machine can’t measure whether someone is lying.
In San Diego, murder charges were dropped against two teenagers after it was determined their confessions were coerced after they flunked voice stress tests.
One of the boys sued the National Institute for Truth Verification, claiming the analyzer was used to get the false confession.
In a court filing, the manufacturer said: “NITV acknowledges that the CVSA is not capable of lie detection and specifically cautions its users regarding the proper use of the device.”