By Melvin Figueroa posted on September 25, 2016
When attempting to obtain information through an interview and the individual does not want to provide, constitutes the sole purpose of an interrogation. Preparation stands as the most important factor in conducting a successful interview and interrogation. Every investigator must be able to distinguish between interrogations and interviews.
The difference between both is the following:
Once the investigator has identified the factors, they can consider and act upon them to increase the probability of a successful interrogation. The investigator must establish a set plan, building persuasive themes, arguments, and building a good relationship with the individual. While not all-inclusive, these factors prove vital to a successful interview and interrogation.
The investigator makes clear distinction between the two processes of interviews and interrogating. In most cases, an interview should precede every interrogation. Through the interview, investigators learn about the individual and their needs, fears, concerns, and attitudes. They often use this information to prepare themes or arguments to use during the interrogations.
During interviews, the individual will answer questions from the investigator about the crime, themselves, and others involved in the incident. During this non- threatening initial inquiry, the investigator identifies a non-verbal and verbal behavior exhibited by the individual, build rapport and find a common ground with the individual. They must determine if they should be interrogated and obtain additional case facts or take a different approach.
The following are steps for a successful interview and interrogation:
Preparing For The Interview And Interrogation
Successful interviewers and interrogators mandate that the individual not control the interview, topic, and discussion, but also the physical environment. A good setting is a small, controlled sound insulated room void of distractions. Often, only one good interviewer and interrogator opportunity exist. Risking that opportunity in an unacceptable environment may be a poor investigative decision.
Case File Knowledge
If investigators can tell individual how the crimes were committed the individual may give the reason for their involvement in these incidents. However, they must exercise caution in using this technique. Of course, knowing how the crime occurred can be an effective persuasion tool. Understanding case facts remain critical to any interview or interrogation.
Familiarity With Subjects Backgrounds
Knowing the individuals background information constitutes another critical factor in achieving successful interrogations. Therefore, the more you know about the individual they interview or interrogate, the better their chances for success.
The investigator should document all details during the interview before interrogating the individual. Although, investigators document the process by audio or video recordings, they should obtain a signed, written statement as an accurate summary of the essential facts. Once the interview or interrogation starts, the investigator should have everything on hand, so the individual does not get distracted from the questions and answers.
Developing Persuasive Themes And Arguments
A lack of arguments and themes to persuade the individual to tell the truth stands as a major cause of interrogation failures. Three main solutions exist for combating this problem.
First, experience provides investigators with an ever-increasing supply of arguments. Conducting more interrogations and interviews gives the investigator additional ideas and a wider variety of themes to pursue.
Second, preparation allows investigators to plan their persuasive themes and arguments before interrogating the individual. However, the investigator should not make the latter appeal as a promise of leniency for the individual.
Finally, Investigators should have themes and arguments ready and be prepared to relate them to the facts of the case. Generally, the skillful presentation of frequently used themes and arguments, along with any specific ones developed during the interview, results in successful interrogations.
Establishing A Plan
An uncomplicated, four step plan can provide investigators with effective, well-proven method of ensuring interrogation success.
First, investigators confront the individual, either forcefully or moderately, with the facts and issues surrounding the incident and usually accuse the individual of complicity in the crime. Generally, the individual will deny the allegations.
Then, the investigator begins to cut off or stop these denials. An effective method of cutting off these denials involves interrogators repeatedly acknowledge the individual participating in the crime while questioning only their motivations for committing the acts. At this point, the individual may stop offering denials and begin providing excuses or justifications for their actions.
During the third step, investigators present their themes and arguments. Some themes are universal, others apply to specific crimes. Still others appear to have no direct relevance to the incident. Without a solid foundation of prepared themes and arguments, interrogations usually fail.
Finally, as the individual begin to succumb to the interrogation, but still need slightly more inducement to tell the truth, the investigator can present alternative or closing questions. These face-saving questions allow the individual to make an admission without losing their dignity. Any positive responses to these inquiries reveal an admission of truthful involvement by the individual.
Building A Good Relationship
Investigators can achieve significant success in interrogations by ensuring that the individual remains the central focus in interrogations, surpassing even the interrogation plan, the themes and arguments, the environment considerations, or any other component. Individuals often confess for no other reason than their respect for and trust in their interrogators. Therefore, investigators must build a good relationship with the individual.
Allowing Enough Time
Investigators must remember that successful interrogations require a certain amount of time to complete. Some admissions and confessions come quickly, but most do not. Generally, the chances of obtaining a confession increase 25 % for every hour (up to 4 hours) of interrogation. Investigators spend up to the first hour of the session learning about the individual, building rapport, obtaining background information, and discussing the crimes. Stopping after 30 minutes or an hour of interrogation dooms investigators to a 75% interrogation failure rate. Such a complicated process requires ample time to conclude successfully.
Acquiring Adequate Training
Interview and Interrogation training greatly increases the probability of success. Formal interview and interrogation courses have earned the respect of Correctional Administrators as valuable training experience. Furthermore, a few years of on-the-job interviewing experience provides correctional officers with a use full background before attending formal classroom training.
Knowing Some Interviews And Interrogations Will Fail
Remember, no investigator can succeed in every interrogation. At least 10% of individuals will not confess, regardless of the investigators talent or hard work. Professional, hard-core criminals fall into this category of interrogation failures. These offenders are often repeat offenders and know the criminal justice system well. In any case, investigators should not become discouraged if their best efforts do not yield productive results with these types of criminals.
Interrogations and Interviews fail for any number of reasons. Preparing adequately, understanding the interrogation process, and appreciating the individual needs and values remain paramount in achieving successful interrogations. All of these elements need constant attention for investigators to acquire the information critical to successfully resolve their cases. With adequate training, increased awareness, and established plans, officers can become successful interrogators and interviewers and effectively reduce the number of unsolved crimes that plaque the institution.
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