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Examining Police Interrogation Techniques: Handling Denials, Overcoming Objections and Re-connecting (steps 3-6)

The interrogation has begun; the interrogator has accused the suspect of the crime and developed his theme. Now, the suspect will begin to deny guilt. According to the nine step procedure for extracting a confession introduced in Criminal Interrogation and Confessions by Inbau and Reid, both guilty and innocent suspects will deny the accusations. Despite denials, a Reid trained interrogator “knows” that the suspect is guilty so there is no room for “weak denials.” Denials are not tolerated since the more a suspect denies involvement or is permitted to repeat or elaborate on a denial; the less likely a confession will result. Consequently, if the suspect tries to deny, the interrogator will ignore, interrupt or dismiss the denial by saying “we are beyond that point and we know you did it.”

By refusing to allow the suspect to deny the accusations or offer any details relating to his innocence, the officer overcomes the objections of the suspect and minimizes the importance of what the suspect has to say. An “objection” by the suspect is a statement offered by the suspect to prove that the interrogator’s accusation is false. In this step, the interrogator takes the suspect’s objection and uses it to further the interrogator’s own theme of guilt.

Having been rebuffed when attempting to deny, having all claims of innocence turned against him and not being able to get a word in edgewise, the suspect begins to withdraw. Responding to the suspect’s passive mood, the investigator moves his chair closer to the suspect in order to appear emotionally sympathetic and empathetic and quickly procures and retains the suspect’s attention by cultivating a personal connection. The interrogator moves closer to and physically touches the suspect. The officer maintains eye contact and begins calling the suspect by his first name. While the suspect’s “passive mood” is being carefully cultivated, the interrogator will condense his theme to one or two central elements and moves into the next step of the process designed to elicit the initial admission of guilt.

The last blog entry of this series will address this final stage.