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In every criminal investigation process, interviewing and interrogation are among the most important means of obtaining needed information about a crime. Both require a combination of artistry and skill that must be cultivated and practiced. However, not all people who possess information needed by the investigator are willing to share it. This is true in both interviews and interrogations. Witnesses may have various motivations and perceptions that can influence their responses during an interview. Their motivations and perceptions may be based on either conscious choices or subconscious. The successful interviewer or interrogator must fully understand the techniques of both and be able to evaluate the psychological reasons why people are willing or reluctant to impart information.
The Similarities and Differences between Interviews and Interrogations
The success of an interview or interrogation depends on a number of personal characteristics and commitments of the investigator. Planning for and controlling the events surrounding both interviews and interrogations are important but are generally viewed as more critical to the success of an interrogation. Establishing rapport, asking good questions, listening carefully, and keeping proper documentation are elements common to both forms of obtaining information. Of paramount importance are the legal requirements that pertain to interrogations but are absent in interviews. Also, it is far more likely that a hostile and adversarial relationship will exist between an interrogator and a suspect than between an interviewer and a victim or witness.
Objectives of Interviewing
Interviews are conducted in criminal cases for the purpose of gathering information from people who have, or may have, knowledge needed in the investigation. But, interviewing is not a haphazard process consisting of a list of questions. It is a planned conversation with a specific goal.
III. Objectives of Interrogation
Interrogation, as opposed to interviewing, is designed to match acquired information to a particular suspect in order to secure a confession. While interviewing is primarily for the purpose of gaining information, interrogation is the process of testing that information and its application to a particular suspect.
The following are four commonly recognized objectives to the interrogation process:
To obtain valuable facts
To eliminate the innocent
To identify the guilty
To obtain a confession
Time, Place, and Setting of Interviews and Interrogation
Law enforcement officers conduct interviews in a number of situations. The most common is the on-the-scene interview.
After taking into account the factors of immediacy, privacy, convenience, and control, and weighing the importance of each in the context of the total circumstances, the investigator may decide to interview witnesses at their homes or places of business.
Although convenience of the witness is important to a successful interview, the interviewer need not relinquish the psychological advantage in selecting the time and place of the interview. Privacy is of the utmost importance in conducting interviews. The physical and emotional states of the witnesses are important when one is conducting or determining whether to conduct an interview. Separate witnesses.
The Interrogation Room
The traditional interrogation room should be sparsely furnished, usually with only two chairs. There should be no physical barriers, such as tables or desks, between the investigator and the suspect. From the officer’s standpoint, such barriers may create an unwanted feeling of psychological well-being on the part of the suspect. Proximity in an interrogation can also be important.
VII. Preparation for the Interviews or Interrogations
The success of the interviewer or interrogator and of the interview or interrogation often will be determined by the time and dedication committed to preparing for the conversation. The interviewer must become familiar with the facts of the case under investigation and with the victim.
If the interview is to be conducted with a witness other than the victim, the interviewer should find out as much about the witness as possible before the interview. This includes learning about the witness’s motivations and perceptions and any barriers that might exist.
It is necessary that the interviewer know specifically what crime or crimes were allegedly committed. The interviewer should also obtain a full description of the crime scene and the surrounding area. In addition, any and all possible motives should be identified.
The interviewer should learn as much as possible about the victim’s background, the nature of the injury or loss, attitudes toward the investigation, and any other useful information, such as the existence of insurance in a property crime case.
The interrogator must evaluate the circumstances surrounding the conduct of the interrogation and must begin to evaluate the suspect. An effective interrogator understands that a successful interrogation cannot be organized and compartmentalized into a neat, orderly, step-by-step package. Rather, it is a combination of personality, behavior, and interpersonal communication skills between the interrogator and suspect. It is made up of verbal processes and the way they are communicated, nonverbal actions including body language, and personality characteristics that together might be characterized as a psychological fingerprint. Establish a baseline, Timeline, Story?
It is also essential that the interrogator know all the elements of the offense involved. Failure to possess this information may preclude obtaining a complete confession, which, by definition, must contain admissions by the suspect to the commission of each and every element of the crime. The investigation should reveal as much personal background information on the suspect as can be obtained.
VIII. Witnesses’ Motivations, Perceptions, and Barriers
There are many types of witnesses, and each has different motivations and perceptions that influence his or her responses during an interview. There is no way to categorize all personalities, attitudes, and other character traits. Nevertheless, there are some basic groupings that can be mentioned.
Some witnesses may be honest and cooperative and desire to impart information in their possession to the investigator. Despite these admirable qualities, however, the information may still be affected by other factors that influence all witnesses, such as age, physical characteristics, and emotions. It may be wise in most circumstances to interview this type of witness first to obtain basic information that can then be compared with later-acquired stories.
Some witnesses may desire not to give any information in an interview regardless of what they know.
Some witnesses may be reluctant to cooperate or be suspicious of the motives of the interviewer until a rapport is established and the investigator can assure the witness of his or her good intentions.
Establishing the Competency of a Witness
The term competency refers to a witness’s personal qualifications for testifying in court. Among the factors an investigator must evaluate in determining the competency of a witness are age, level of intelligence, mental state, relationship to individuals involved in the case, and background characteristics that might preclude the testimony of the witness from being heard in court. Relationships among individuals involved in a case may also affect a witness’s competency.
The Reliability of Eyewitness Identification
Eyewitness identification and other information provided by eyewitnesses to a criminal event are relied on heavily by both law enforcement and courts in the investigative and adjudication stages of the system of justice, yet research indicates that eyewitness testimony is the most unreliable form of evidence and causes more miscarriages of justice than any other method of proof.
Human perception is sloppy and uneven. Existing research does not permit precise conclusions about the overall accuracy of the eyewitness identifications, which are a common feature of criminal prosecutions, but research does lead to the conclusion that identification errors are not infrequent. Eyewitness identifications take place in a social context in which the witness’s own personality and characteristics, along with those of the target observed, are as critical as factors relating to the situation or environment in which the action takes place. Thus, human perception and memory are selective and constructive functions, not exact copies of the event perceived. The gaps will often be filled in by the observer in order to produce a logical and complete sequence of events. Experts distinguish a number of factors that limit a person’s ability to give a complete account of events or to identify people accurately. The following are among those factors:
The significance or insignificance of the event
The length of the period of observation
Lack of ideal conditions
Psychological factors internal to the witness
The physical condition of the witness
Lack of familiarity with members of another race or ethnic group
Why People Confess
It has been estimated that 80% of all people will confess to a crime. There are two basic categories of people who tend to confess to crimes: (1) guilty parties who psychologically need to “get if off their chest,” and (2) persons who are not guilty but who act under some urge to confess.
The Free-and-Voluntary Rule
In a 1936 case, the Supreme Court held that under no circumstances could a confession be considered freely and voluntarily given when it was obtained as a result of physical brutality and violence inflicted by law enforcement officials on the accused.
Subsequent to the Brown decision, the Supreme Court, in a succession of cases, has continued to reinforce its position that any kind of coercion, whether physical or psychological, would be grounds for making a confession inadmissible as being in violation of the free-and-voluntary rule.
XIX. Interviewing and Interrogation Legal Requirements
Pre-interrogation Legal Requirements
Pre-interrogation legal requirements became of critical concern during the 1960s. As a result, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision that dramatically affected the conditions under which interrogations take place.
Miranda v. Arizona
In Miranda v. Arizona the Supreme Court, in a five-to-four decision, spelled out the requirements and procedures to be followed by officers when conducting an in-custody interrogation of a suspect. SEE ATTACHED MIRANDA FORM IN MODULES
Although it may be difficult to separate the custody from the interrogation in certain factual situations, the two concepts must be considered separately. Custody occurs when a person is deprived of his or her freedom in any significant way or is not free to leave the presence of law enforcement.
Interrogation as Defined by the U.S. Supreme Court
For legal purposes, interrogation includes any express questioning or any verbal or nonverbal behavior by a law enforcement officer that is designed to elicit an incriminating statement or response from the suspect of a crime.
XXI. Detection of Deception
The Critical Role of the Comfort/Discomfort Equation in Detecting Deception
Those who are lying or are guilty and must carry the knowledge of their lies and/or crimes with them find it difficult to achieve comfort, and their tension and distress may be readily observed.
Establishing a Comfort Zone for Detecting Deception
In pursuing the detection of deception, investigators must be aware of their impact on the actions of suspects being interrogated and recognize how their behavior will affect the other person’s behavior.
Defining Signs of Comfort
Comfort is readily apparent in conversations with family members and friends. It is easy to sense when people are having a good time and are comfortable. When people are comfortable, there should be synchrony in their nonverbal behavior. If a person is standing while talking to someone, leaning to the side with their hands in their pockets and feet crossed, most likely the person they are talking to will do the same. By mirroring another person’s behavior, they are subconsciously saying “I am comfortable with you.”
Signs of Discomfort in an Interaction
People show signs of discomfort when they do not like what is happening to them, when they do not like what they are seeing or hearing, or when they are compelled to talk about things they would prefer to keep hidden.
Although pacifiers, which are physical behaviors individuals use to calm themselves, are not alone definitive proof of deception (since they can manifest in innocent people who are nervous), they do provide another piece of the puzzle in determining what a person may be truly thinking.
While interviewing an individual, an interrogator can use the following clues to understand the different pacifying behaviors:
Expect some pacifying behaviors
Get a clear view
Expect initial nervousness
Get the person to relax first
Establish a baseline
Look for increased use of pacifiers
Ask, pause, and observe
Keep the person being interviewed focused
Chatter is not truth
Stress coming in and going out
Isolate the cause of the stress
Specific Behaviors to Consider in Detecting Deception
Following are some specific behaviors to consider when attempting to determine if a subject is being deceptive.
Lack of emphasis in hand behaviors
Swearing to the truthfulness of assertions
XXII. Use of Technological Instruments to Detect Deception
The primary purpose of a polygraph examination is to determine if victims, suspects, and informants are being truthful or untruthful about what they say. Polygraphs record indicators of a person’s cardiovascular pattern and fluctuations, respiratory patterns and fluctuations, and changes in skin resistance or sweat on the fingertips.
Computer Voice Stress Analysis
Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) was originally developed in 1988 by the National Institute for Truth Verification (NITV) and grew out of the Vietnam-era Psychological Stress Evaluator (PSE), which was used to differentiate between suspected Viet Cong and civilians. Basically, the CVSA notes microvariations in the audible and nonaudible portions of speech.
1st – Review the lecture notes provided…this is very important!
Lecture was in-person.
2nd -Review the PowerPoint provided.
Be prepared to take notes along the way as you watch all the videos…You will not be able to complete the assignment and discussion if you don’t take notes.
Watch the 60 minutes Part 1 and Part 2 videos. These segments are an incredible story of two people -the accused and the victim. It involves eyewitnesses’ testimony and the DNA Innocence project we have covered. I want you focus on the eyewitness testimony angle. And what we talked about in class. What happen? What is wrong with the human memory? What bias come to play on the part of the victim. if any? How should photo-line ups be conducted? Should we even use eyewitnesses in court? These are only a few things to watch for, there is a lot of information in these two videos.
***NO NEED TO POST YOUR RESPONES TO THESE 60 MINUTE VIDEOS THIS WEEK, EVERYONE DID A GREAT JOB IN CLASS. IF YOU WANT TO SUBMIT, IT’S OPTIONAL. Remember to take notes along the way.
Watch Texas Ranger video, then…
1st – internet search on the Grim Sleeper case. What are the circumstances surrounding that case? This is very important to have before you watch the following videos!
Watch the Grim Sleeper case videos parts 1 and 2. These interrogations are being conducted by very experienced police detectives. They have done covert operations, undercover work, search warrants etc. on this case…and now they finally have the suspect in the interrogation room. Take notes as you watch.
For your assignment, after you have done all the above (including my lecture and notes):
Describe the interrogation? Who? What is happening? Where? How? For example, were baseline questions used? Was a timeline established? Was a story anchored down? Was Miranda rights explained? What was the demeanor of the detectives/suspect? Did demeanors change? What tactics did the detective use? Did they talk too much? Listened? Overall how did they do? What would you have done differently? These are only a few things to watch for, there is a lot of information in these two videos, . Remember to take notes along the way.
VIdeos to watch
Grim Sleeper Part 1 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMTAsYJkeIk
Grim Sleeper Part 2 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liElNiTibGE
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