Police interview recordings play a key role in law enforcement investigations. And while it does require some experience and intuition, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of conducting successful interviews with witnesses and suspects.
3 Tips for Better Police Interviews:
As police departments and individual law enforcement officers, interviews play a central role in what we do. Without well-conducted interviews, it’s impossible to fulfill our duty to the community and serve our citizens well. Having said that, here are a few useful tips you can use to improve your police interview recordings for superior results:
1. Get the Right Interrogation Room Setup:
The first step is for your interrogation rooms to be properly optimized. Here are a few thoughts to consider (if they haven’t already been implemented):
- You need at least three interrogation rooms in your facility. Anything less than this prevents you from questioning multiple prospects simultaneously.
- Interrogation room walls must have top-notch soundproofing. This is especially important for the walls between interrogation rooms. A failure to properly soundproof will hurt the integrity of your police interviews.
- Doors should be windowless and solid (flush metal with a solid core). It’s also important that they open outward, so as to prevent a suspect from using the door as a way of inflicting harm and/or barricading inside.
- Ceilings should ideally be gypsum boards to prevent suspects from crawling up into the ceiling and escaping. If you must use a suspended ceiling, tamper-proof tiles are a must. (Not only does this prevent escapes, but it also keeps the suspect from hiding contraband items.)
- Vinyl tile flooring or poured epoxy on concrete are good options. This allows for easy cleaning. You may opt for a drain in each room, as well. This allows for easy clean-up with a mop or hose (when necessary).
Be on the lookout for opportunities to improve your interrogation room setup. When you have the basics in place, it becomes much easier to focus on doing your job.
2. Perfect Audio and Video Recording:
If you’re still using a low-quality CCTV option to record your interviews, you’re doing yourself, your department, and your community a disservice. You owe it to everyone to invest in a solution HD video and high-quality audio.
In addition to audio and video quality, consider using a police interview recording system with additional features like marketers (to tag specific points), searchable databases, push-button recordings, etc.
3. Refine Soft Skills:
It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie investigator or you’ve been in law enforcement for 30 years; it never hurts to brush up your skill and refine your interviewing skills. Here are a few points to consider:
Let the suspect ramble:
As you know from personal experience, the more you talk, the more opportunities you can say something that you don’t mean and/or to reveal the truth on something that you’d rather keep a secret. Letting your suspect ramble is akin to letting them interrogate themselves. Give them plenty of room to “chat it up.”
Offer face-saving scenarios:
One of the best ways to get a suspect to confess is to offer them some sort of face-saving scenario that contains a confession with all of the same elements of the crime being investigated, but that still puts them in a compromising situation. Then you can bring them back into alignment with what really happened by slowly breaking down walls. This initial confession is the most difficult to obtain. Once you get it, the rest of the truth usually squeezes out.
Research the suspect:
There’s nothing stopping you from doing some research on your suspect prior to your interrogation. Social media can tell you a lot! Gathering a few basic facts will give you leverage in your interview.
Simple little details like this can make a world of difference. And the more you master your soft skills and approach, the more consistent your results will become.
Where Can You Improve?
Whether you’re looking at it from a departmental perspective or an individual vantage point, consider where you can improve your police interviews. With a healthy mixture of advanced technology and strategic soft skills, you can conduct better interviews that allow you to serve your community with the utmost authority and integrity. Good luck!