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Interrogation & Memory: Ethics of Lying to Subjects About Evidence

Interrogation techniques taught to investigators run the gamut of styles and philosophies. Certain styles have a higher tendency of showing up in false confessions cases. One of the characteristics of those flawed techniques is the use of false evidence as a tool to get the subject to confess.

There are numerous “problem” interrogation techniques that teach and support the use of false evidence to put pressure on the subject. Suspect techniques tend to also recommend tactics that include suggesting unnamed witnesses, the presence of surveillance cameras when none exist, DNA, fingerprints, footprints, making up file folders purportedly filled with evidence, labeling DVD’s of video tapes with the subject’s name and more. This is typical of high pressure interrogation methods which in and of themselves have a high correlation with false confession.

A documented tactic used by some problem interrogation methods that has been shown to have a very strong correlation to false confessions is the use of the high pressure tactic of suggesting that the subject has a memory problem. There is empirical evidence that one of several common denominators found in false confessions is referred to as “memory distrust syndrome.” In many of these cases the subject need not have a “high suggestibility rating” as described in extensive research on false confessions. Using high pressure tactics, guilt assumptive techniques dominated by leading questions, interrupting the subject, short answer questioning techniques, combined with the interviewer suggesting the subject may not be able to trust their memory is a deadly combination.

Empirical studies of interrogation techniques that capitalize on false evidence do promote false confessions. Such tactics will also contaminate the statements of uncooperative victim’s and witnesses.

Our law enforcement training academies and corporate loss prevention training associations would do well if they would familiarize themselves with the techniques that promote such tactics. They are exposing themselves, their academies, their investigators and their companies to the risk of liability by training their personnel in methods and interrogation techniques that are now being made illegal in many countries.

I think it’s time we paid more attention to the interrogation methods we teach. Are we just training our personnel in a technique because of the name or more importantly, are we really aware of the the moral and legal ethical problems that exist due to the content of the training.

Of course, this just my opinion on the topic.

Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”
TheLieGuy.com
The Interview Room
The3rdDegree.com
StanTheLieGuySpeaks.

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Lying: Eye Contact & Deception: The Myth That Won’t Die!

One of the most persistent myths about signs of deception is that a break in eye contact is a sign of lying.  NOTHING could be further from the truth.  The sad part is that law enforcement academies keep shooting themselves in the foot by perpetuating the myth.

I recently read an article posted on PoliceOne.com (an excellent site I might add!)  submitted with a title that screamed “The eyes have it: How to detect deception: If there is a #1 rule in the interpretation of non-verbal human behavior, it is to look for breaks in eye contact.” In my opinion the article was loaded with unsubstantiated declarations and anecdotal evidence as proof positive that breaks in eye contact are the number 1 sign of deception.

The sad thing is, the author trains not only law enforcement and criminal justice agencies as well as loss prevention and risk management professionals.  He also professes that he teaches material suitable for “certification.” Based on the content of the article, it is obvious that he has never read single piece of social-psychological research because if he did he would learn that what he is professing “as an authority” is pure bogus myth.  Conservatively speaking, there are now well over 30 plus articles outlining empirical evidence that refute his claim.   Well… we should won’t want “science” the get in the way of our pre-conceptions!

In the meantime, interrogators and their agencies are being dragged into court for seriously flawed and contaminated  victim and witness interviews and severely flawed interrogations including false confession cases.  A good portion of the problem can be traced back to courses taught in our academies that espouse such unsubstantiated, disproven, baseless and scientifically inaccurate content that in my opinion borders on the side of negligence.

My message to academies to bring this type of crap into their training schedule should be more diligent about the content and the supporting documentation to avoid this type of drivel.

Of course, this is just my opinion but I would like to hear your point of view including your experiences with the same type of problem.

 

Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”
TheLieGuy.com
The Interview Room
The3rdDegree.com
StanTheLieGuySpeaks.

Join me on Twitter & Facebook