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Strategies and Tactics for Improving Street Interviews

Questioning Techniques

Body Language

Handling Deception

(Interviewing I, II, III, IV)

Course Number: CR-502 - 505
Course Length: 4 Days or 4 Separate Days (7.5 Hours per day)

The interviewing series consists of four complete days of instruction in the art and science of gathering accurate and more complete information from persons by means of oral interviews and assessing non-verbal communication. This involves oral interaction, interpretation of non-verbal behaviors, and assessment of deception. This process is discussed from the standpoint of various interviewing situations including mere encounters, traffic stops, vehicle collision investigations, interviews of victims and witnesses, interventional interviews, and interrogations of criminal suspects. Beginning with Interviewing I, and progressing through Interviewing IV, the participant explores the alternatives available for obtaining information from those who wish to furnish assistance, as well as those who attempt to conceal information. Each successive workshop builds on the preceding one, but is complete by itself. Through the use of videos, demonstrations, and classroom exercises, participants learn how to prepare for interviews, assess subjects, and conduct routine and formal interviews. Participants review and assess actual interviews and critique them for proper application of strategy and tactics. Interviewing methods introduced are discussed within the range of routine interviews to the interrogation of a suspect in custody.

Interviewing I: Strategies and Tactics for Improving Interviews covers the step-by-step approach to the field interview, as well as the formal interrogation. The terms “strategy” and “tactics" are differentiated, and the styles of strategy discussed. The four phases of a formal interview are described and the very important differences between “interview” and “interrogation” lead into the value of separating “interview” techniques from “interrogation” techniques. The workshop discusses the overall preparation and tactics of conducting a successful interview, including pre-interview assessment, proper attire, avoiding the “traditional” law enforcement interview approach, building rapport, note-taking and terminating an interview. Contents include preplanning of the interview, selecting an appropriate strategic style, adjusting tactics as the interview progresses, tactical phases of an interview, negativity management, assisting victims and witnesses to remember and articulate details from memory, and elements of oral and written statements. Exercises include enhancing memory and memory recall, and the analysis of transcripts of actual law enforcement interviews.

Interviewing II: Employment of Strategy and Tactics in Questioning
has several distinct sections of discussion. This workshop begins with the principles and suggested practices of facility enhancement – general interview, victim interview, witness report, or arrested suspect’s statement. Where you interview, and under what conditions you interview, affects the outcome. The workshop makes specific suggestions for improvement of any facility used to conduct interviews, with an emphasis on selecting the best available location and working to enhance its contribution to a successful interview. Next, participants learn how to make the initial assessment of each subject, and how to determine the approach that will maximize the quantity and quality of information obtained. By avoiding both qualitative and confirmatory feedback, the questioning process becomes more productive. The types and uses of various questioning techniques are discussed, along with the types of denials expected from suspects and non-suspects alike. Handling denials and using the process of conversation management lead to a more progressive questioning technique. Backgrounding, active listening, the formation of questions in different forms, and verbal probing techniques are discussed. Content includes active listening techniques, common listening errors, the proper technique to obtain descriptions of persons and items of interest, developing baselines for determining honesty, handling denials, using rationalizations, making progressive accusations, and handling a stalemate. The primary thrust of this workshop is to expose each participant to the potential utility of different questioning techniques, how to obtain more detailed information in compliant subjects, and how to progress beyond denials in non-compliant subjects. Exercises include obtaining improved physical descriptions from victims and witnesses, assessing victim and witness accuracy in perception, and analyzing different questioning techniques.

Interviewing III: Body Language in Vehicle Stops, Street Interviews, and Formal Interrogations is dedicated to the proposition that body language is a potential second language to be used by the trained interviewer. As such, it is two-way communication. This workshop focuses not only on the proper observation of a subject’s body movements and chosen spatial relationships, but also discusses the use of this modality by the interviewer to enhance the interview results. The workshop places the preplanning covered in the first session and the questioning techniques covered in the second session into perspective. By understanding the concepts and use of behavior symptom analysis, participants learn to recognize leakage, incongruence and deceptive behavior. This workshop focuses on decoding posture, breathing gestures, eye movement and spatial relationships, as well as physical signs of stress as both tools to gain additional information and methods to assess the truthfulness of that information. Contents include the assessment of body language to determine an appropriate interview strategy; the role of fear and other emotions in body movement; baseline, context, congruence, timing and consistency of observed movements, and reading non-verbal communication in clusters. The officer also can use his/her own body language to control denials and obtain useful information. The workshop details observations possible of a subject from head to toe, with extended sections on facial movements, eye movements indicative of deception, and clues to the carrying of a concealed weapon. The officer safety section demonstrates by means of videos the deterioration of a law enforcement encounter, and how the ability to accurately assess body language indicative of either a threat or of deception is a major law enforcement safety tool. Demonstrations and videos are used to illustrate how situational awareness and officer safety may be improved by being able to better assess body language.

Interviewing IV: Handling Deception is the last of the interviewing series, and covers an in-depth analysis of the various forms of deception and how to deal with them. Participants learn the major causes of deception and the five basic kinds of deception in interviews. They discuss the five stages of an interrogation of a guilty suspect, as well as factors that affect the selection of the proper approach to an interrogation. The James-Lange Theory of Emotion is presented as a model to be applied to interviews of all types to detect stress that may be the result of deception. Participants learn to apply the stress reaction of “fight – flight – freeze” to deception detection, and learn to detect anxiety, leakage, and other symptoms of the fear of detection. Topics include deception indicators such as those seen in oral statements, oral responses to questions, “non-responses”, posture, attitude, specific body movements, and other indirect indicators. Participants become able to assess the diminished responses inherent in certain types of suspects, and learn how to question them. The traits, attitudes, and defenses of the untruthful suspect are explored and recommendations made for improving communications with them. Contents include the employment of empathy, observational effects of stress, reasons for deception, indicators of deception, development of admissions, indicators of a pending confession, avoiding false confessions, and interviewing problems with sociopaths and psychopaths. Several exercises involve the assessment of segments of actual cases and discussing videotaped interviews of a person charged in a famous homicide case. Other videos are used to permit participants to detect deceptive clues covered throughout the training series.

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