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    Legal Considerations When Asking an Alternative Question

    An investigator is asking a great deal from a guilty suspect to confess to a crime which may potentially involve substantial punishment. For this reason, the suspect must be allowed to make his first admission of guilt with as few words as possible and also in a way that allows him to save face. In the Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation, ...
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    Laughter and the Detection of Deception

    Recently my wife and I attended her high school reunion. While such reunions are marketed as a great time and an opportunity to get re-acquainted, in truth they are very anxiety provoking. The reunion forces classmates to reveal occupational and marital failures, the success or disappointments of raising a family, health problems and the undeniable effects of aging. As my wife ...
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    Issues to Consider Regarding Possible Suicidal Suspects

    It was about 4:00 in the afternoon when one of our regular clients called and requested an "emergency" polygraph examination for a 19-year-old female employee they suspected was stealing jewelry from a kiosk in their store. In pursuing the urgent nature for the polygraph examination, it was learned that the suspected employee had been unsuccessfully "mildly" interrogated over the last two ...
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    Investigating Possible Fabricated Claims

    A recent case involving a University of Wisconsin student who falsely claimed that she was abducted highlights some important characteristics of these investigations. This particular case quickly achieved national attention and was followed on a daily basis by morning talk shows. The reason for this attention was probably because the media were able to build suspense by showing surveillance video of ...
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    Interviewing Elderly Subjects

    Interviewing techniques presented in textbooks or during seminars generally assume that the person being interviewed is an emotionally healthy and mature individual with a normal IQ. Twenty-five years ago, when the epidemic of unreported child sexual abuse attracted national attention, specific interviewing techniques were developed to address the special circumstances of eliciting information from a child. Contemporary investigators are now dealing ...
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    Interrogations of Children

    National statistics would readily support the claim that, in the last decade, children are increasingly involved in more serious crimes. It no longer shocks the average listener to learn that a 12-year-old shot and killed his teacher, two 13-year-old boys gang raped a girl after a school dance or a 14-year-old robbed a classmate of his lunch money at knife point. ...
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    Interrogating a Suspect on the Issue of Identity Theft

    The Federal Trade Commission estimated that in 2002 identity theft cost businesses and consumers 53 billion dollars. Because of the prevalence of identity theft, many investigators find themselves having to interrogate a suspect on this issue. Identity theft is an unusual offense because it is not only a crime, but also an MO to commit other crimes. The first consideration, therefore, ...
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    Interpreting Verbal Phrases

    During an interview a subject freely chooses which words or phrases to use when responding to the investigator's question. This choice is not random or haphazard; it is carefully selected to offer either the most accurate response possible or to avoid the anxiety telling less than the truth would cause. Consider the following homicide example where Bob was found stabbed to ...
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    Importance of Privacy During an Interview

    We have all had the experience where a person tells us something in private that he never would have told us in a public setting. It is well accepted that it is easier to talk about sensitive matters with only a single person present. Yet, how many times are victims interviewed in the presence of a family member, or a witness ...
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    Failure to Have Policy on a Critical TaskSearch and Seizure May Lead to Liability

    Solis v. City of Columbus, 319 F.Supp. 2d 797 (S.D. Ohio 2004), provides an example of potential agency liability for the failure to have a policy in place that will protect the rights of citizens in their homes. Solis involved the execution of a search warrant by a SWAT team following an investigation conducted by Detective Cox. Detective Cox was working ...
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    If a Lie is Repeated Often Enough, Can The Person Come to Believe That The Lie Is True?

    During our seminars participants ask many interesting questions about the psychology of lying and factors that affect lie detection. A common question relates to the effects of repeating a false statement. Specifically, if a person tells the same lie over and over could the individual eventually come to believe the lie? We all have observed suspects who, based on analysis of ...
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    Failure of Supervisory Involvement in Pursuit Contributes to Liability

    Clark v. South Carolina Department of Public Safety, 2002 S.C. App. LEXIS ( S.C. Ct.App. 2002), involved a police pursuit conducted by the South Carolina Highway Patrol. Trooper Greg Bradley observed a van operating at 57 mph in a 45 mph zone. He attempted to pull the van over but the van took off. At one point the van stopped in ...
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    Guarding Against Claims of False Imprisonment

    The concept of "false imprisonment" is usually associated with a criminal act relating to abduction or kidnapping. However, this web tip relates to false imprisonment as a civil suit. The definition varies somewhat state by state, but the civil claim of false imprisonment generally involves creating an environment where a person is significantly deprived of their freedom to leave an area. ...
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    Early Intervention Systems For Law Enforcement

    Law enforcement administrators throughout the country have long recognized that a small percentage of officers are responsible for a disproportionate share of complaints, which can tarnish the reputation of the entire agency. Since the early 1980’s, many large police agencies began to establish tracking systems that systematically identify patterns of behavior of individual officers. This is a problem solving approach which ...
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    Going Directly from an Interview into an Interrogation

    In the Reid Technique a clear distinction is made between interviewing and interrogation. The interview is non-accusatory, question and answer process that is designed to elicit information. An interrogation is accusatory in nature and is designed to elicit the truth from someone whom the investigator believes has lied. Furthermore, the two procedures are generally separated in time. At the completion of ...
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    Dishonesty by Officer Requires Termination

    Over the past ten years, law enforcement agencies have struggled with the impact of officer dishonesty on the ability of the officer to act as a witness in court proceedings. The dishonest officer is always subject to having their credibility impeached by their prior dishonest conduct. Agencies have an on-going responsibility to disclose information to prosecutors concerning an officer’s dishonesty before ...
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    Conduct Unbecoming - Sex, videotapes, the Internet and police misconduct

    Law enforcement personnel are held to personal standards higher than other members of our communities. Conduct unbecoming has been a common and historical charge used in controlling and censuring police officers and other public employees, for both on and off duty actions. The "Police Officer’s Code of Ethics," written back in the 1950s, has a provision that is routinely referenced in ...
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    False Confession Cases – The Issues

    In the past several years a number of false confession cases have received extensive publicity. In several of these cases the convicted individual has been exonerated by DNA testing and the actual perpetrator, in turn, has been identified. In these cases it is important to examine in detail exactly what happened; what went wrong; what are the lessons to be learned, ...
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    Common Questions About Law Enforcement Administrative Investigations

    **What is the burden of proof to sustain allegations of misconduct against a police employee?** Nearly all law enforcement agencies use “preponderance of the evidence” as the burden of proof to sustain allegations. Preponderance of evidence has been defined as more than 50 percent; a tipping of the scales of justice; or more likely than not. Some agencies and public employment ...
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    Evaluating the Truthfulness of a Reported Sexual Assault

    Wisconsin recently introduced legislation that would prohibit a sexual assault victim from being asked to take a polygraph examination. Many states have already passed such a law. Clearly doubting the veracity of a sexual assault victim's claim is not a politically popular position. Victim advocate groups argue that the polygraph further traumatizes the sexual assault victim. It is interesting to note ...
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