This was, by far, one of the most useful training classes I've attended since becoming an investigator.
Spectacular investigations begin with unspectacular work and preparation. Great investigators, whether in the public or private sector, create their opportunities for success. In this article, we will provide some simple steps to ensure greater success at obtaining the truth when you interview a suspect.
Always prepare mentally for the unexpected, especially when you are the on-call investigator. Try not to be flustered or discouraged as new developments emerge – as they inevitably will. Stay focused on your game plan.
Think safety for yourself, other officers, victims, witnesses, suspects, and the general public. Our personal experience is that many officers do not pat search people before interviewing them. This could have dire consequences if you’ve sized someone up incorrectly. Think about ways you could low key a quick pat search prior to interviewing people to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
Knowledge is Power
Be sure to stay current on case law, investigative protocols, and agency or company policies and procedures.
Have a positive mindset, but prepare for chaos!
Play to win – morally and ethically. You wear the white hat in this scenario – we must be above board in all of our investigative and interviewing practices. We’re the good guys! Professional athletes visualize success – you should too with your investigations and interviews.
Do a full court press on every case and you will be amazed with your results. Be relentless and creative about solving cases.
Remember the Goal
Our goal in interviewing is simple and pure: Obtain the TRUTH from everyone. Have an open mind and remember anything is a possibility – anyone can be a suspect. We must effectively and efficiently solve cases. People are counting on us to uncover the truth.
When you are “On-Call” and you get the big one, remember to take a deep breath and slow down. You set the pace at which things happen. Don’t get caught up in the madness. Take a “macro,” not “micro” view of the incident. Quickly gather information, such as:
· Work-Ups on “everything” and “everyone” before you talk with the suspect(s): victims, witnesses, suspects, associated vehicles, associated addresses, anyone associated to the suspect.
· Ask arresting officers: Did the suspect submit or resist arrest? Is the suspect under the influence of drugs or alcohol? What is the suspect’s demeanor -cooperative, remorseful, agitated, upset, etc.? Did the suspect make spontaneous statements? Did anyone read the suspect his/her Miranda Rights? Hopefully patrol has not done this, but as the investigator, you need to know.
· Ask transport officers the same questions as arresting officers above. Also, find out if victims are being treated at a hospital. Call the officer at the hospital and determine the victim’s condition. Ask if the victim made any statements. If possible, ask the officer to ask the victim clarifying questions.
· Delegate and ask others for help (remember to pay back the favor). Consider the following resources available to you: patrol officers/deputies, detectives, community service officers / police service technicians, records personnel, communications personnel, probation, parole, social services, other law enforcement agencies.
· Visit the crime scene and consider expanding the crime scene. Ensure a crime scene “log officer” has been assigned. Canvass for evidence and collect any items potentially associated with the incident. Look for commercial or residential surveillance videos, citizen cell phone recordings, vehicle mounted video cameras, motorcycle helmet video devices (GoPro), etc.
· Canvass for witnesses and give officers clear instructions on what information to obtain. Find out who was contacted and what they know about the incident. Ask if they own or rent the property. Obtain landlord information – another source of information you can use on follow-up. Look for audio/video camera equipment on the perimeter of the residence or building being canvassed. Ask about these even if none are seen. Find out who lives or works there with them, who else was at home/work, and what time people left home/work. Make sure you contact these people and obtain their statement. Consider recanvassing at different times.
· Ensure evidence is collected at the scene. Consider photographing and video-taping the crime scene. Obtain copy of surveillance camera footage. Make a sketch and note where all evidence was located. From the victim, consider collecting: photos, clothing, DNA swab (to eliminate the victim from the DNA collected at the scene), other evidence depending on crime type. From the suspect consider collecting: photos, clothing, DNA swab, blood sample, gunshot residue. From officers consider collecting: Photos and Body-Worn Camera footage, and any other pertinent transfer evidence. Personally review all evidence collected by others. Request written and audio copies of all incoming 911 calls and Dispatcher communication. Review written information and listen to incoming 911 calls.
· Ensure everyone associated with the investigation is interviewed: family, friends, neighbors, current and former co-workers, current and former girlfriends/boyfriends, enemies, etc.
This is not an all-inclusive list, but it should be enough to get you thinking about being prepared and creating your opportunities for success when handling an investigation.
This was, by far and away the best training I have received in 15 plus years of Law Enforcement. The instructors are experienced, engaging, articulate, and very entertaining. I will be recommending this training to multiple agencies.
Incredible training with amazing real world instruction. I have been taking law enforcement classes for over 30 years and by far this is the best presented and most useful.
I highly recommend this training for any Probation staff who have the necessity to interview/interrogate individuals for investigation purposes.
Your training has made the greatest and most direct impact on my assignment of any training class that I've taken.
This training provided the useful tools necessary for assessing the veracity of a suspected child abuser, which goes a long way in helping to protect children.
Instructional style is engaging and highly effective.
Effective teaching teams! The presentation of the material was consistently interesting, and intelligent without being too intellectualized.
Your training gave me the confidence and tools to interview the suspect for over 5 hours and to bring a closure to the case.
This training by far has been the most informative and most effective I've attended. The instructors engaged the students in a manner that made me want to speak my opinion, ask questions, and participate.
The information presented was highly relevant to my job and was presented in a manner that was organized and very easy to digest.
I will continue to use and pass on this information because I really believe in the instructors and their approach.
It not often that you go to a training that you really, really want to pay attention to. Because of the high quality information and style of presentation, I knew that if I looked away I was going to miss out.