A screenshot of a voice stress analysis program, with an individual’s recorded voice file shown as a dense horizontal graph on the bottom, and its corresponding stress levels on the top
SANATOGA PA – Lower Pottsgrove’s police department has spent $8,200 to buy a computer and accompanying software program that is intended to analyze the voice stress, or lack of it, among people its detectives and others are interviewing during the course of investigations, Chief Michael Foltz told the township Board of Commissioners this month (November 2012).
The equipment, assigned to the department’s detective unit, will be “used to help verify the truthfulness of persons providing statements when direction is needed to certain cases,” Foltz said in his written monthly report to board members. “It will be a great tool for aiding investigators,” he added.
The report did not specify under what circumstances a decision will be made to rely on voice stress analysis, or if it will be used in all investigations. It also did not supply details on what, if any, rights regarding voice stress analysis are available to persons being interviewed.
The accuracy of voice stress analysis “remains debated,” according to Wikipedia. It notes the technology can determine “only whether a speaker is experiencing stress,” but not whether the stress “unequivocally” indicates detection of either a lie or truth.
The $8,200 cost also includes training for and certification in using the device by two members of the department. It currently has only one detective, Joseph Campbell, but it also identifies patrol officers Daniel Kienle and Christopher Dipiano as criminal investigators. Foltz also is trained in detective duties.
With the equipment purchase and training, Foltz noted, the department “will not need to be as dependent on other agencies for conducing polygraph or voice stress analysis.”
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