I was investigating an incident of physical and psychological abuse recently and set up an interview with the person suspected of the improper behavior. One of the techniques that lead to the disclosure of the truth was what we refer to as "questioning for expected information." This is when during an investigative interview someone provides an account of their activity and you listen to the person and think to yourself, "if this is true, what would they have experienced and what information should be in their memory about that event?" Then, during the interview, question them for details about what they said. Not in an aggressive, accusatory manner, but in an interest to understand and to fully know what they actually did. For instance, if the person said they went to the gym, what would they have experienced and what information would they have in their memory after going to the gym? Going to the gym is a simple activity, but the list of actions and information that the person should have can be quite long:
- What gym did you go to?
- What time did you get there?
- Where did you park?
- Did you sign or scan in?
- Who was at the front desk?
- What did you do at the gym?
- What did you wear?
- Did you wear gym clothes there?
- Did you change in the locker room?
- Did you bring water?
- Did you see anyone you knew?
- How long did you stay there?
There are many other questions that could be asked, and that applies to even activities such as going to a restaurant or out to a movie. If the person truly did go out to dinner and/or out to a movie, there is a TON of information surrounding that which they should have in their memory. If they are making it up and forming an alibi, the person may have planned ahead and provide some details, but they cannot make up ALL the information that would result from actually experiencing the event. That is the purpose of this questioning strategy, to think about what the person would have actually experienced doing what they said, and then ask questions for detailed information. If they experienced the event, their memory should be filled with information and knowledge surrounding that experience. If they are lying and creating an alibi, they will have to continue to make up information about their story, which often results in the person providing conflicting or incongruent information and they ultimately realize that their story fell apart. That is exactly what happened during my interview. The person admitted that they did not go to the gym, which led to a truthful disclosure about what really happened. A person you are planning to interview may plan to lie ahead of the interview, but it is difficult for most people to lie effectively during this type of questioning, but it is easy for a person to recall the information from memory.
Questioning for expected information will often lead to expected results, which is obtaining the truth!
I served over 2 decades within law enforcement with the Connecticut State Police, working as a Trooper, Major Crime Detective, Patrol Sergeant and Detective Sergeant in the Major Crime Squad as well as Internal Affairs. Now over 30 years later I still work with the men and women serving their communities through training, consulting and investigative assistance through my company.
However, over the past couple years I have heard from law enforcement agencies throughout the country that they are having a very difficult time recruiting qualified people for careers within law enforcement. Headlines in recent news and industry publications read;
- “Police shortage in cities and small towns across the country” (Policeone.com)
- “Police face severe shortage of recruits” (ABC News)
- “Crisis facing law enforcement; Recruiting in the 21st Century” (Police Chief Magazine).
I was recently contacted by Allison Harper, an Outreach Coordinator for CriminalJustice.com. After reviewing their website and all the information they provide about choosing a career in law enforcement I wanted to pass on that information here. A career in law enforcement is a very challenging, exciting and rewarding career path, and service to your community is a noble act. Check out CriminalJustice.com to see all the resources they provide to help you make the right decision for your career! With all the issues facing law enforcement and the difficulty agencies are having attracting new recruits, it was nice to see CriminalJustice.com providing resources to help!
Hey, just a quick reminder on identifying a subjects baseline during an investigative interview. During a recent interview I conducted regarding a suspicious injury on an individual living within a group home, I asked one of the staff members if they ever saw the person injure themselves. They said "no". I then asked if they ever saw another staff member or anyone else injure the person. They said "no". (Note: As far as that last question, I should have broken it into two questions, one about any other staff and one about any other person.) I then asked if they ever injured the person. There was about a 3 to 5 second pause, the staff looked up and to their left, then up and to their right, then said "Ummmm, no...no...ummmm, (pause)...no."
I asked the same series of questions to other staff members and each has simple, clear, direct and reliable denials, which were consistent throughout the interview and with their baselines. This one did not. I have more interviews to do and then follow-up interviews as well, so we will see how this pans out!
I just wanted to pass that along as a quick reminder...establish the baseline of the person you are talking with and look for any deviations. This is a big part of our BELIEF Interviewing model as well.
LIES, LLC was extremely happy to partner with CICAPP in Monterrey, Mexico this past August to conduct training on Investigative Statement Analysis. There were over 30 students from a variety of backgrounds including law enforcement, government agencies, security, loss prevention, attorneys and more. The students were very engaged, making the training extremely productive! Students began applying their new skills and training immediately after the course with very positive feedback. This was sent to Rodrigo Velarde of CICAPP: “I have started to apply what I learned in this course. I evaluated 16 employees that experienced an armed robbery at one of our sites. Of those 16 witnesses, I could distinguish 3 that definitely had suspicious statements, which gives me the opportunity to have a focused interview with them. This particular course has permitted me to "set down" or "canalize" in a practical way the knowledge that I have been acquiring throughout my career in security.” Jim Kline and I were impressed with the professionalism of CICAPP and the quality, professionalism and expertise of the students they brought to the course. We were also appreciative of the bottle of Don Julio Anjeo 1942 Tequila that Rodrigo shared with us, even though it was a birthday present of his! We are looking forward to future joint training with CICAPP.