- Interview Techniques
- Interrogation Techniques
- Law of Interrogation and Confessions
- Final Projects
Criminal Investigation - Interviews, Interrogations, and Confessions
The second half of the Principles of Investigations class focuses on Criminal Interviews, Interrogation and Confessions. The investigator uses these skills, techniques and strategies towards the goal of clearing the innocent and eliciting confessions from the guilty.
Investigators should leave no detail or nuance unexplored, not only of the suspect's behavior, but that of your own as well. In this segment of the class you will learn how to spot and interpret verbal and nonverbal behaviors of both deceptive and truthful people, and how to move toward obtaining solid confessions from guilty persons. We will study both, "The Reid Technique" which is built around basic psychological principles and Paul Ekman's "Facial Action Coding System" (FACS). FACS is a taxonomy of human facial expressions of emotion that are not culturally determined, but universal to human culture and thus biological in origin. These universal expressions include those indicating anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, contempt and surprise. These expressions are observable as "microexpressions" and "macroexpressions" and reliably detect deception.
You will learn how to obtain answers from a witness, a victim, or a suspect and how to interpret these answers with the utmost accuracy. Combining the Reid and Ekman techniques provides you the insight and understanding of the effective and proper way a suspect should be interrogated and the safeguards that should be in place to ensure the integrity of the confession.
Dr. Michael Thompson
Cognitive Interview Techniques
Kaice Allen x
May 4, 2015
Imagine being a witness to a crime without even realizing it. The psychologists Ronald Fisher and Edward Geiselman were the first psychologists to come up with and use the cognitive interview technique. This technique was used to help witnesses and victims recollect details of a crime. Their interview consisted of a series of memory enhancing strategies, which have helped many cases be solved.
The cognitive interview technique is a way to help interviewees remember as much detail of a crime as possible. It is used to recreate the context of an event to stimulate the interviewees memory. This technique is not as formal as others and it encourages the witness or victim to express emotions to help the remember. It also does not pressure the interviewees to continue if they become distressed. Cognitive interviews involve a number of techniques to help the person remember what happened, many of these techniques seem unconventional, but have been proven to work.
The first technique is having the interviewer to try and mentally recall the environmental and personal context of the crime for the witnesses. This includes asking the interviewee about their activities nd feelings throughout the day. Such questions include topics like the sights they saw, sounds they heard, feelings and emotions they had, and even the weather outside. The next technique is asking the witness to try and report the crime from a different perspective by describing what they think others saw. This helps them differentiate what others saw and what they saw making them be able to recollect the event better. Another way for them to help witnesses recall the crime is recounting it in a different narrative order. Meaning having them retell the story from end to beginning. People tend to remember things that have recently occured better than what happened before, so by working it from end to the beginning they will be able to remember what occured with more detail and ease. Finally witnesses are asked to report every little detail. No matter how trivial the detail may be to the witness it can help trigger key information about the event.
In order to successfully perform a cognitive interview you have to follow the steps. These steps are the introductions, introducing 4 retrieval techniques to the interviewee, an uninterrupted narrative of what the witness saw, guiding the witness through several information rich memory representations, and finally the completion of the interview. Introductions help the interviewer and interviewee establish a relationship and puts the interviewee at ease. The next step is to inform the witness what will be occuring and making them more comfortable with a substantial amount of information. Step 3 is to get an idea of what the interviewee can remember and what the interviewer needs to ask to get more details on the event. Step 4 is using the techniques above to help the interviewee remember what they saw without putting to much stress on them and stopping if the interviewee needs to. The previous step should help the interviewer move to the concluding step which is the completion of the interview where the interviewer hopes to have attained enough information to move on with their investigation. These steps are very important for the success of the entire interview.
Fisher and Geiselman came up with this technique and were the first to use it but many psychologists have adapted to their work and helped many police investigations. Due to their work they were able to help many people remember what they witnessed or experienced. Cognitive interview techniques are very controversial but effective and have helped solve many crimes. By following these techniques and steps police can help victims and witnesses remember what they saw and help themselves get closer to solving a crime.
Natasha Allmer x
The interview technique is the more tame of the two, Interview and Interrogation. All the techniques for interview is mandatory to know as an investigator. For an investigator, building a rapport is very important. You must find something that the subject and yourself have in common, this will create a bond between you two. There are about seven tips on how to be a good interviewer.
Fist would be preparedness, so do all the homework on the subject that you can. The more information you have about the person before the interview, the better rapport you can build. Second would be sit in a position of power, so arrive to interviews early. It doesn't matter if you have the interview in a conference room or at a person's home, position yourself to sit at the head of the table. If the subject invites you to their place of work, such as their office, suggest moving to the conference room or any other room. This tip will help aid you when you build your rapport. Three would be body mirroring, which is one of the most successful, nonverbal methods. When mirroring the subjects body movements, you become like them, but don't make it obvious. Which means copy their hand movements, and the way they speak, whether it be slow or fast. This will make them feel more comfortable because you are like them. Fourth would be using their name, we all like to hear the sound of our name. When doing an interview, use their name often, it builds trust and they listen to you better, but don't use their name more than a couple of times in an interview otherwise it will have the opposite effect on the subject. The fifth technique is the psychological pause. When you question the subject, put in a psychological pause. This lasts only a couple seconds, it throws the subject off and creates a mild level of tension. Number six consists of a different direction of a question. Do not use serious issues before you have built your rapport. The more serious questions should come later in the interview. If you use these to early they will clam up and back off. You must show an understanding of how difficult it is for them. By re-directing a question it shows that you are a trustworthy person and that you have concern for the subject. The seventh tip is family and children first. Scan the room and see if there is anything that shows you they have a family or children, people love to talk about their kids and families. Spending the first ten or so minutes asking them about their families will relax the subject and they will open up easier.
There are plenty more techniques for investigators to use in an interview. These happen to be some of the most common. While using these techniques you will build your rapport easier, and you will connect with the subject which will allow them to open up easier, because they trust you.
Tim Becket x
When it comes to obtaining information or even a confession from a person suspected of committing a crime, there are many ways a person can go about obtaining that information from them. The way that you are going to obtain information from a suspect generally depends on the attitude of the suspect themselves. If they are a smart ass and tend to think they are in control sometimes a much more harsh approach would be good for them to show them that they are not in control and that the officer is the one who is actually in charge. While if the accused seems to be scared or intimidated at the time already, it could be to more of the officers advantage to make them feel as if they are in a friendly environment and that the officer would just like to help them find their way out of this mess.
The most common technique used by officers today is known as the, Reid technique. The Reid technique consists of nine steps, but instead of going over all nine steps like the rest of the class I will just give a general overview of it. The first basic step of the process is known as isolation, officers isolate the suspect from family and friends, in the hopes that it will make the person feel alone and intimidated by being in the interrogation room of a police station. The next step of the process can be known as, maximization. The officer starts out by stating that the suspect is guilty. The officer knows it and the defendant knows it. The officer will then present a theory of the crime that has details of the crime and certain evidence that the suspect was on scene and involved with the crime committed. The officer ignores or refuses any claims of innocence by the defendant. The cop knows that suspect is lying, knows that the suspect did it, and the suspect is wasting everyone’s time with protests of innocence.
The final portion of the process is known as Minimization. After the officer had made it clear to the suspect that no claims of innocence will be listened to or believed, the officer then begins to act as if he is the accused friend and is on his side. The police officer tells the suspect that the officer understands why the suspect did it or that it was someone else’s fault and everyone else will understand too. If the suspect confesses, a lesser charge will be placed on them and they will have a chance to go home. If not, the suspect will remain in custody until found guilty or not.
The Reid technique has been around since the 1940’s and has been known to be the most effective form of interrogation since it was invented, that is why it has been around for nearly half a century and is still used daily in the criminal justice system. Officers learn all types of tactics on how to get a confession out of a suspect and also are taught nearly hundreds of ways to tell if a person is lying or telling them the truth. Sometimes it is the smallest things such as standing above the suspect in a chair and raising your voice above theirs so that they will feel intimidated. Even at times all it takes is getting the suspect a drink so that they will have to pee so they want to get out of the room sooner. There are all types of ways that an officer can get what they need from a suspect, they just have to find the right tactic that fits that suspect.
Stafan Bradley x
April 7, 2015
What are some Interview techniques?
Say that you already know what is required Convince the person that you already know what you are asking of them.
Show them how much you know of their background and activities. Indicate that there is much more that you also know. Let them think you are all-knowing and all-seeing.
Make a big show of how you discovered this. For example, tell them that you have already been told this by somebody else, perhaps an accomplice of the person being interrogated.
Watch closely their response to this news. They will react slightly differently if you are telling the truth or otherwise.
Michael, I've got to tell you that Sidney has just confessed and told us all about how you pulled the trigger. It was you, wasn't it?
Listen, Sarah, I know you bunked off school today. You were seen, so there's no point trying to hide it.
I know about the raid. I know about all the planning. You know that. And I know who was there. Now I'm going to tell you what you did. Or do you want to tell me first? When the person believes that you already know what they are trying to conceal, the act of confession goes from one of betrayal, perhaps of others or one's principles, to a simple release of pent-up tension.
A reversal of this is to tell them something that you know did not happen and watch their reaction. This will at least help you calibrate their response to untruth. It may also goad them into telling you what actually did happen.
Play on the position of authority and power that you have. Let them know that you can do anything you want.
Push them to follow childhood lessons of conforming to parents and those with official authority, such as police and teachers.
Show the relevant symbols. If you are in the police or military, wear the uniform. If you are in business, wear an expensive suit. If you are a doctor, wear the white coat and stethoscope. Look smart, whatever the uniform.
Talk with authority. Do not use floppy language. Be confident and assertive. 'Speak softly and carry a big stick' is a common quote. Speaking softly indicates that you do not need to shout, because you already have all the power you have. 'Carrying a stick' can be indicated by the symbols of power.
People are programmed in early childhood to recognize and accept parental control. This unquestioned compliance is later extended to teachers, priests and others in positions of vested authority.
Particularly when other interrogative techniques have caused the person to regress to a child-like state, authoritarian methods are more likely to succeed
Point out the consequences of non-collaboration. Exaggerate these. Pump up the fear of what might happen.
Show them that any route other than telling you what you want will lead to dire consequences for the person or those that they care about.
Play on their imagination. Sow seeds and water them.
**Tahnee Saxton x
Criminal Investigation class has taught me a lot about the interviewing and interrogation process. I now know that there is a lot of thought that goes into it. The questions being asked are vital for leading the detective to a conclusion. Observing the verbal and nonverbal responses given are also very important.
An interview can be accusatory or non-accusatory. For both types it is always a good idea to start interview by welcoming the witness or suspect. Offering them water will make them more vulnerable because they will need to go to the bathroom, and they will try and hurry the interview, making it easier for the detective to get information out of them. The questions you ask should develop the facts of the situation. They should be specific and call for a specific answer. The questions about certain details should be repeated later in the interview to clarify the truthfulness of the response given previously. Taking notes while interviewing is a great way to catch them in a lie. While asking questions, develop the fact that you are in charge, and they won’t get away with smart, unhelpful answers. If the suspect isn’t cooperating, then let them know the severity of the situation, and let them know what the worst case scenario is for them if they don’t tell the truth.
It’s very important to read the responses of the suspect. The tone of their voice, the rate at which they respond, and what they say are all vital pieces of the puzzle. If the suspect is too broad in their answers, or too specific in their answers, you know they are lying. If they repeat the question you ask, they may be stalling. A detective needs to understand the culture of the suspect because that could make the meaning of the response completely different. Pay attention to the details of what they say, because they could change in the course of an interrogation.
Non-verbal responses tell the truth. A person can lie all they want with their mouth, but their body language is always honest. Eye contact, positioning, and shakiness are just a few examples of what to pay attention to in an interview or an interrogation. Small movements with the hands or the eyes usually are made when somebody lies. Facial expression is important as well.
There is always a reason a person will say what they say. For example, if a suspect asks for a lawyer, they are most likely scared because they are in fact guilty. If they don’t give any info it leads to suspicion, and if they are overly helpful it leads to suspicion. It’s an art to pick up on the responses of a suspect in an interview or interrogation, but these tips will help.
Interview and Interrogation Techniques
You can pick up a lot of non-verbal and verbal clues you may miss if you have your head down in a pad taking notes. Additionally, paying close attention to everything the suspect says and does creates additional stress on them, which may lead to them breaking down sooner rather than later.
Try to establish some type of rapport with the individual before you rush right into the Miranda advisement and the interrogation. It is not natural for a suspect to want to tell the police anything, especially one he does not know. Give them a cup a coffee, a candy bar, etc. Explain to them you have completed a thorough investigation that has led to them and you really do want to hear their side of the story. It is also a very effective persuasion tool for jurors. They tend to give more credibility to interrogators who have a non-threatening approach. Try it first, if it doesn’t work, then transition to the more aggressive approaches.
Find out what is important to them (children, wife, job, fears of jail, etc) and use those hooks to your advantage. I cannot tell you how many confessions I have obtained by telling a suspect their confession is in their best interest to prevent loss of these important connections in their lives.
Let the suspect ramble on at first and give you their false statement about their involvement in the crime. Lock them into a lie, then start to pick it apart piece by piece. If you have done a thorough investigation, this should not be that difficult. Sometimes catching a suspect in a lie is just as good as a confession.
Case Facts Knowledge, Make sure your scenario still contains a confession of the elements of the crime being investigated and does not create an affirmative defense issue. Knowledge of criminal statutes is critical in this scenario. In my experience, once a suspect confesses, it is much easier to draw them to the truth. The initial confession of involvement is the toughest obstacle.
Understanding case facts remains critical to any interview or interrogation, but some facts may prove more important than others. Knowledge of how a crime occurred can be an effective persuasion tool.2 If investigators can tell subjects how the crimes were committed, the subjects may give the reasons for their involvement in these incidents. However, interrogators must exercise caution in using this technique. In presenting crime facts to subjects, interrogators must ensure that all prove correct. Otherwise, interrogators will risk losing credibility, which greatly increases the chance of interrogation failures.3
Familiarity with Subjects’ Backgrounds, Acquiring adequate background information about subjects constitutes another critical factor in achieving successful interrogations. Subjects’ feelings, attitudes and personal values directly impact successful interrogations. Individuals often make the choice to confess based on their emotions, then defend their positions or choices with logic.4 Therefor, the more officers know about the subjects they interrogate, the better their chances for success. When interrogators understand subjects’ goals, needs, and conflicts, they can use this information to persuade subjects that confessing the truth is in their best interest.
Documenting Confessions , Officers should resolve the critical details of documenting the confession before beginning the interrogation. Once the procedure starts, interrogators should not be involved in extraneous activities, such as changing audiotapes or searching for needed forms. These actions distract subjects, make them feel less important then the interrogation process, an greatly decrease the possibility of successful interrogations. Although interrogators document the process by audio or video recordings, they should obtain a signed, written statement as an accurate summary of the essential facts. Moreover, if the audio or video recordings prove defective, this written record can be admitted as evidence and examined by a jury.
Alix Johnson x
The Reid Technique
1. The positive confrontation. The investigator tells the suspect that the evidence demonstrates the person's guilt. If the person's guilt seems clear to the investigator, the statement should be unequivocal.
2. Theme development. The investigator then presents a moral justification (theme) for the offense, such as placing the moral blame on someone else or outside circumstances. The investigator presents the theme in a monologue and in a sympathetic manner.
3. Handling denials. When the suspect asks for permission to speak at this stage (likely to deny the accusations), the investigator should discourage allowing the suspect to do so. The Reid website asserts that innocent suspects are less likely to ask for permission and more likely to “promptly and unequivocally” deny the accusation. The website states that “it is very rare for an innocent suspect to move past this denial state.”
4. Overcoming objections. When attempts at denial do not succeed, a guilty suspect often makes objections to support a claim of innocence. For example, I would never do that because I love my job. The investigator should generally accept these objections as if they were truthful, rather than arguing with the suspect, and use the objections to further develop the theme.
5. Procurement and retention of suspect's attention. The investigator must procure the suspect's attention so that the suspect focuses on the investigator's theme rather than on punishment. One way the investigator can do this is to close the physical distance between himself or herself and the suspect. The investigator should also “channel the theme down to the probable alternative components.”
6. Handling the suspect's passive mood. The investigator “should intensify the theme presentation and concentrate on the central reasons he [or she] is offering as psychological justification … [and] continue to display an understanding and sympathetic demeanor in urging the suspect to tell the truth.”
7. Presenting an alternative question. The investigator should present two choices, assuming the suspect's guilt and developed as a “logical extension from the theme,” with one alternative offering a better justification for the crime (“Did you plan this thing out or did it just happen in the spur of the moment?”). The investigator may follow the question with a supporting statement “which encourages the suspect to choose the more understandable side of the alternative.”
8. Having the suspect verbally relate various details of the offense. After the suspect accepts one side of the alternative (thus admitting guilt), the investigator should immediately respond with a statement of reinforcement acknowledging that admission. The investigator then seeks to obtain a brief verbal review of the basic events, before asking more detailed questions.
9. Converting a verbal confession to a written confession. The investigator must convert the verbal confession into a written or recorded confession. The website provides some guidelines, such as repeating Miranda warnings, avoiding leading questions, and using the suspect's own language.
Dante Foos x
Good Cop Bad Cop
The good cop bad cop technique has been around for as long as interrogating has been around. Its been seen on movies a thousand times and has been used by just about every officer that has ever interrogated someone. Although it is not the most common way to interrogate anymore, it is still always in the back pockets of interrogators. This interrogating technique can really only be used on weak minded and soft people. Then again, you may be able to get any person on the right day with the right crime hanging over someone’s head.
Bad cop: That's it, you ** *, I'm going to rip out your ** throat!! [lunges at suspect]
Good cop [grabbing bad cop at the last minute]: Joe! NO! That won't help! Calm down! Go and cool off!
Bad cop [storming out and slamming door]: I'm going to kill that ** *!!
Good cop: Sorry about that—are you ok? You know I can't hold him off for ever. If you can just give me one name, though, I'll be able to use that to protect you. Just one, go on, who else was there?
This would be an example of two officers performing the good cop bad cop routine.