They Called 911 for Help. Police and Prosecutors Used a New Junk Science to Decide They Were Liars.


PREMO Member
Tracy Harpster, a deputy police chief from suburban Dayton, Ohio, was hunting for praise. He had a business to promote: a miracle method to determine when 911 callers are actually guilty of the crimes they are reporting. “I know what a guilty father, mother or boyfriend sounds like,” he once said.

Harpster tells police and prosecutors around the country that they can do the same. Such linguistic detection is possible, he claims, if you know how to analyze callers’ speech patterns — their tone of voice, their pauses, their word choice, even their grammar. Stripped of its context, a misplaced word as innocuous as “hi” or “please” or “somebody” can reveal a murderer on the phone.

So far, researchers who have tried to corroborate Harpster’s claims have failed. The experts most familiar with his work warn that it shouldn’t be used to lock people up.

Prosecutors know it’s junk science too. But that hasn’t stopped some from promoting his methods and even deploying 911 call analysis in court to win convictions.



Mostly settled in...
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A junk cop from a junk city.
If Ohio were receive an enema, the hose would descend on Dayton.

We were stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB twice.


Well-Known Member
When we got orders for pizza, if something sounded suspicious we either asked them to repeat the order or give a callback. Since we had Caller ID - and a street by street phone listing - we could not only tell if they were lying but figure who was calling the fake order, since fakers ALWAYS want to SEE the delivery fail.