For the last decade the American people have asked questions about interrogation, ranging from how far is too far when it comes to interrogation and investigation tactics to why aren’t we going farther when it comes to preventing mass-crimes like those we’ve recently witnessed in San Bernadino and Colorado Springs. What experts are finding is that ongoing training and specific interview designs are making the biggest difference when it comes to improving outcomes—that is in developing trust, eliciting true confessions, and in closing cases more quickly.
Experts are learning that the look and feel of interview rooms has a bigger impact than they may have previously thought. A a recent USA Today article Federal Interrogators Training Local Cops speaks to this idea in depth.
One of the major challenges that American law enforcement have had to face is the bad reputation for harsh treatment of individuals suspected of criminal activity in the past. The most popular study on the matter, The Innocence Project, outlines in detail what aggressive interrogation tactics have led to and the relationship between these techniques and higher rates of false confessions.
According to the Innocence Project, which uses DNA evidence to challenge flawed convictions, one in four of the 333 people wrongly convicted and later exonerated by DNA evidence made false confessions or incriminating statements to investigators.
The outcry from the public and which experts tend to show agreement for is that the suspected criminal activity almost never justifies the harsh interrogation tactics used. The research has shown repeatedly that accusatory practices which “attempt to raise anxiety levels, fabricate evidence, and minimize the suspect’s perception of their own culpability” are less effective.
More Rapport, More Trust, Fewer False Confessions
Organizations like the John Reid Institute have risen up to show the application of interrogation and interview techniques that focus on building rapport and understanding what the motivation behind the suspect may have been. The article explains that research on trust-building strategies shows that these efforts are much more effective at fostering cooperation among suspects and even can improve the detective or investigators approach in the interview process.
A second critical component in improving law enforcement tactics and techniques has been improved training. This has been noted in everything from local to high-profile terrorism cases. Here is one particularly interesting case the article discusses:
In Philadelphia, researchers are assessing whether the design of actual interrogation rooms can improve the quality of information provided to investigators. In Los Angeles, meanwhile, detectives in the agency’s Robbery-Homicide Division, have been employing cognitive interviewing techniques that seek to enhance memory, often by engaging witnesses and suspects in non-confrontational conversation, rather than traditional interrogation….
The detectives also said they have increasingly employed the tactic of assigning a detective to an outside room to observe the actual interrogation. During breaks, Stearns said, the monitor can serve as a “coach” to redirect the focus if needed, based on information or observations perhaps missed by interrogators in the session.
Is your PD or local law enforcement office ready for fewer false confessions? Are you ready to close cases more quickly and work proactively on building safer communities? Let’s talk about your equipment needs. iRecord specializes in top-of-the-line digital audio and video recording equipment and have the knowledge you need to get you up to speed.