Consultant for writers on crime, police, & court procedures.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


       Writers often use the terms “interview” and “interrogation” interchangeably.  The differences are significant, however.
     The interview is strictly to obtain information. It’s the standard Q-and-A session between an officer and a witness or a victim.  It might be conducted in a home, on the street, in a detective’s office, or in an interview room. Sometimes it is recorded but often the officer simply takes notes.
     The interrogation is conducted to elicit a confession from a suspect.  Usually it occurs in an interrogation room at the police station or a similar room at the jail.  It is an “adversarial” conversation with the goal of obtaining a confession.  Psychological pressure and “strategic deception” are used by interrogators to move the suspect to confess.
     A small police station may not have an interrogation room.  A detective might question suspects in his or her office, although this is not the ideal arrangement. Too many distractions, too many items the suspect can pick up and use as a weapon.
     Interrogations should be recorded, preferably audio and video. A common tactic of defense attorneys is to attempt to suppress any confession.  A recording shows the suspect was not under duress when he confessed.
     Most officers don’t wear their weapons into an interrogation room. The firearm is secured in another location, perhaps in a gun locker designed for that purpose or locked in a file cabinet.

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