Decatur Daily staff writer Holly Hollman reports on the use of Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) in Athens, Alabama:
ATHENS — Females alleging they had sexual relations with Athens police officers passed portions of a lie detection test, Mayor Dan Williams said.
The mayor said the women, former Athens City Jail inmates, took a computer voice stress analyzer as part of an internal investigation.
“I don’t know how many females took it,” Williams said, “but it did seem to confirm some things. It indicated there is something to their allegations.”
Athens police Capt. Tracy Harrison has said that one former female inmate made an allegation and that during the internal investigation, other females made allegations.
He said the allegations are that the females had sexual relations with three officers.
Williams said the internal investigation is not complete.
“We’ve talked to officers and inmates, and there may be others we need to talk to,” Williams said. “We’ve got to determine what really happened.” A police officer who asked not to be identified said the incidents allegedly occurred over several months outside the jail, and that there was at least one incident at the jail. The officer said the women have been in jail for prostitution and drugs.
Athens police Capt. Marty Bruce, who would not give specifics about the allegations or comment on whether former female inmates took a lie detector test, said the accusations are not criminal allegations.
“It’s allegations along the lines of conduct unbecoming an officer,” he said.
Athens police Chief Wayne Harper is in Hawaii visiting family and will return to work Jan. 10. Williams said that if any disciplinary action is needed, that he, the chief, other superior officers and Human Resources would make that decision.
“Depending on what really happened, it could be anything from a letter of reprimand to suspension without pay to termination,” Williams said.
Officials in Athens, Alabama need to understand that “passing” a CVSA “test” cannot confirm a person’s statement, just as “failing” cannot disconfirm it. While CVSA may be yielding a cash flow for the hucksters at the National Institute of Truth Verification who peddle it, it’s not yielding valid diagnoses of truth versus deception. A Magic-8 Ball produces equally valid results at a fraction of the price.