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  • Interviewing Background Applicants


This course is designed for students who want to get the whole truth and nothing but the truth in law enforcement background investigations.  Over the course of our two day, 16 hour class, students will learn to: identify and overcome deception and omission; interview applicants and references to get to the truth; and write up their findings precisely and effectively.  This is not a class in the logistics and legalities of background investigations.  This is a class about seeing what’s not in the paperwork, hearing what people are not telling you, and knowing what to do about it.

Course Outline

Day 1

  • Background vs. Criminal Investigations
  • Pre-Interview Sources of Information
  • Statement Analysis and Background Investigations
  • Elements of Statement Analysis
  • Example (criminal investigation): Statement of father in shaken baby case
  • Example (background investigation): Responses to Personal History Statement
  • Confronting and overcoming equivocation/negation in background investigations
  • The First Interview
  • Personal History Statement “small talk”: rapport and baseline
  • Creating a truth-telling environment
  • Connect application process to police officer qualities:
  • “Setting the table” themes
  • TMMAT Interviewing
  •  Deception
  •  Omission
  • Attitude
  • Statement Analysis Practical Exercise

Day 2

  • Themes to Address and Overcome Deception & Omission in Background Interviews
    • Best foot forward.
    • Not the same person
    • Help me explain
    • Student examples
    • The language of truth-seeking
      • Words to avoid
      • Words to use instead
  • Talking About Drugs
    • Undiscovered/Undocumented Conduct
      • How do we get people to talk about misconduct for which there is no “paper trail”?
        • Personal History Statement: gaps in time and place
        • Personal History Statement: SA elements that indicate missing information
        • Personal History Statement: leakage and bet-hedging partial disclosures
        •  Truth telling environment and “setting the table” themes
        • Two catch-all questions
        • Example Background Investigation
        • Statement Analysis and the reference questionnaire
        • Outliers (and previous candidate responses to “people with an axe to grind”)
        • Who’s missing? (Compare with social media and information from Internet research databases)
        • Going beyond the reference questionnaire
        • Closing and Discrepancy Interviews
          • Non-verbal communication
          • Addressing discrepancies and derogatory/potentially disqualifying information
            • Attitude
            • Context
            • Writing it Up
              • Final Exercise
  • 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, one of the most useful classes I've attended since becoming an investigator.

    —Steven Aiello, Antioch Police Department
  • The information that they have presented is highly relevant to my job, and was presented in a manner that was highly organized and very easy to digest.

    —Michael McGarvey, California State Prison, San Quentin
  • ...Provides 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
  • Your class 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
  • Your instructional style is engaging and your tag-team style is highly effective.

    —George Laing, Fire Prevention Captain, Investigator
  • 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
  • Your class 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
  • Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to attend the Interview and Interrogation training presented by Paul Francois and Enrique Garcia.

    —Todd Almason, Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office
  • You two are an effective teaching team, and your presentation of the material was consistently interesting, and intelligent without being too intellectualized.

    —Michele Keller, Deputy Probation Officer, County of Alameda