We use both our own and third-party cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. If you continue to browse, we consider that you accept the use of these.
  • Celebrating 20 Years of Training Excellence 2004-2024

Officer Safety During Interviews

While officer safety is usually at the forefront on our minds while working street patrol, it is easy to let it slip when working on the investigations side of things. Obviously, we’re not typically in the same sort of potentially threatening situations working investigations compared to patrol duties. But that doesn’t mean that threats don’t exist and that we should let our guard down.

For example, how many of you are routinely conducting pat searches of suspect’s before conducting a voluntary, non-custodial interview? In polling our classes, we typically see that less than half the class regularly conduct pat searches of suspects prior to non-custodial interviews. When the interview subject is a witness or victim, the numbers drop to almost zero. Most officers cite reasons of not wanting to damage rapport as their rationale for not searching. Fair enough, but what’s more important in the long run – good rapport, or living to see your family again?

Many suspects agree to come to the police station to talk to investigators believing they can either outsmart the cops or at least learn what evidence exists against them. A suspect facing a long term prison sentence may judge that he has very little to lose if the interview begins to turn against him. A victim who is filing a false police report could very easily turn into a suspect on the turn of a dime. If we haven’t previously searched either of these people, we could be in a very precarious situation.

Most of us have seen the video of the subject arrested down in Southern California who pulls a loaded .45 from his waistband and offs himself inside a departmental interview room. What if that fellow had had the inclination to shoot the interviewing officers instead of himself? Or, God forbid, the non-sworn personnel working just outside of the interview room door?

Our suggestion is to always put officer safety first. Give some thought as to how you could preserve your safety AND maintain rapport. Perhaps when your subject first enters the building, explain that for his safety and yours you would like to ensure he’s not entering with any weapons. At your agency, it may even be a matter of following department policy. Either way, get his buy in and permission to conduct a quick pat search. Chances are, you can be done with it in a matter of seconds, thank him for his cooperation and understanding and be no worse for wear. Something to think about.


  • Instructional style is engaging and highly effective.

    —George Laing, Fire Prevention Captain, Investigator
  • Effective teaching teams! The presentation of the material was consistently interesting, and intelligent without being too intellectualized.

    —Michele Keller, Deputy Probation Officer, County of Alameda
  • This was, by far, one of the most useful training classes I've attended since becoming an investigator.

    —Steven Aiello, Antioch Police Department
  • Your training has made the greatest and most direct impact on my assignment of any training class that I've taken.

    —Ken Gelskey, National City Police Department
  • I will continue to use and pass on this information because I really believe in the instructors and their approach.

    —Kimberly Meyer, Washoe County Sheriff's Department
  • 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.

    —Mark Paynter, Oregon DOC
  • 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.

    —Julio Ibarra, Merced County Sheriff’s Office
  • I highly recommend this training for any Probation staff who have the necessity to interview/interrogate individuals for investigation purposes.

    —R. Bret Fidler, Santa Clara County Probation Department
  • 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.

    —Quinten Graves, Oregon State Police
  • Your training gave me the confidence and tools to interview the suspect for over 5 hours and to bring a closure to the case.

    —Daniel Phelan, San Jose Police Department
  • 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.

    —Sunny Burgan, MSSW, LCSW, Social Work Supervisor, Santa Clara County DFCS
  • 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.

    —Det. Brian Dale, Portland Police Bureau
  • The information presented was highly relevant to my job and was presented in a manner that was organized and very easy to digest.

    —Michael McGarvey, California State Prison, San Quentin