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  • Fostering Knowledge, Increasing Confidence, Enhancing Careers

policemen lined up
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • This was, by far, one of the most useful training classes I've attended since becoming an investigator.

    —Steven Aiello, Antioch Police Department
  • 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
  • Instructional style is engaging and highly effective.

    —George Laing, Fire Prevention Captain, Investigator
  • 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