their new webinar, the five-day Reid
Technique of Interviewing and
Interrogation for Investigators training course is condensed into three hours.
The three-hour online training involves seven modules ranging from 15 to 45
minutes, with the average training block 25 minutes. Each module has a
downloadable six- to eight-page workbook-style handout.
good is the Reid Technique? In 1994, the United States Supreme Court referenced
the Reid Technique in its Stansbury v. California
decision. In 2004, the Supreme Court again referenced the Reid Technique in
their decision on Missouri
online class covers the core of the Reid Technique: 1) Behavior Symptom
Analysis, 2) Behavior Analysis Interview and 3) the Reid Nine Steps for
Interrogation. Behavior Symptom Analysis is the verbal and non-verbal
behavioral characteristics that distinguish a truthful person from one who is
withholding or fabricating information.
Behavior Analysis Interview involves the structure for the interview and how it
is designed to get both factual and behavioral information, so as to suggest a
direction for the investigation. The Nine Steps is the interrogation process
that follows the interview process. These are tactics and techniques designed
to obtain an admission of guilt.
it may seem obvious, the Reid Technique is in fact a technique, not a general
approach. The technique is quite structured: the right questions asked in the
right order and at the right time. There is nothing free-wheeling here, nothing
informal, nothing done by the seat of the pants of gut feel. It is as it says:
a specific, well-developed technique, not a general philosophy. It is an
easy-to-understand and an easy-to-do technique.
the webinar, the speed of speech is about right, and so is the emphasis and
the presentation, there is a continual reference to what page the speaker is
on, and what bullet points to fill in. There is no blah-blah. In fact, the
content is delivered rapidly enough that the summary at the end of each module
is very helpful.
handout becomes both a refresher and a critical resource. The live interviews
are well-done, the video clips are extremely good. The narrator carefully
follows the handout. At the end of each module, the major points are repeated
Interview Then Interrogate
the Reid Technique, the “interview” is totally separate from the
“interrogation.” They each use drastically different approaches. The interview
must be done first, and there must be some kind of time gap between the
interview and the interrogation.
interview is completely non-accusatory. It is a question and answer time where
the detective does 20 percent of the talking and the suspect does 80 percent of
the talking. The questions are both investigative in nature and behavior
provoking in nature. The word “provoke” is important. Some of the questions are
designed to be uncomfortable for the suspect—asked so the detective can observe
the non-verbal behavior.
interrogation, in fact, starts off with a direct accusation of guilt. It is not
at all a Q&A time. Instead, it is an uninterrupted monologue by the
detective. The detective offers the suspect a face-saving way out, offers the
suspect a “good reason” for the suspect to have committed the crime. This “good
reason” is called a “theme” and it is the very core of the Reid Technique.
Behavior Symptom Analysis
the past 67 years, Reid practitioners have been able to identify 1) verbal and
non-verbal characteristics of truthful people, 2) verbal and non-verbal
characteristics of deceptive people, and 3) verbal and non-verbal
characteristics of both truthful and deceptive people.
most truthful people say (verbal) and do (non-verbal) is different than what
most deceptive people say and do. This block of training also includes: 1)
factors that may influence the reliability of the behavior symptoms, and 2)
establishing a baseline of a normal behavior pattern.
real problems for most detectives are the things that are common to both
truthful and deceptive people. Both can be nervous or fearful. Both can be
angry or quiet. That said, truthful people are more likely to be composed,
concerned, cooperative, spontaneous, open and authentic. Deceptive people are
more likely to be overly anxious, unconcerned or bored, defensive, overly
helpful or polite, evasive, and guarded in the words they pick.
addition to these different attitudes between truthful and deceptive people,
other differences exist. Truthful and deceptive people have different postures
and also make different posture changes. The truthful and deceptive people use
their hands in different ways to illustrate, demonstrate or emphasize their
response. The online version has role play examples of each.
group has different stress or tension relieving gestures, i.e., times during
key questions when the person’s hands come in contact with his/her own head,
mouth, face, hair or clothes. The eye contact may be different between the
groups but as baseline during normal, non-confrontational conversations must be
all of these, the entire group of activities must be evaluated as a whole—no
single stand-alone behavior or pattern of speech is an indication of
truthfulness or deception. So the real meaning of what was said by the suspect
is a combination of what words they chose to use and how they acted as they
spoke those words.
and deceptive people may respond with different words and in different ways.
Truthful people deny in general, overall terms while deceptive people may deny
specific acts or specific parts of a crime.
people have a reasonable memory while deceptive people have a memory of
extremes. The deceptive person will remember something when nothing out of the
ordinary happened to make that event memorable.
truthful person may use harsh words like “steal” while the deceptive person may
use downplaying words like “take.” The truthful person may be direct and
spontaneous in making answers while the deceptive person may be evasive and
delayed with answers, even asking the detective to repeat the question.
Truthful people don’t typically qualify or hedge their answers while deceptive
people do this in a number of different ways.
is the actual process for how to conduct the initial investigative interview.
The training block covers the three kinds of questions. The non-threatening
questions include biographic information, employment, activities, and casual
conversation. During this time, a normal conduct, baseline is documented. The person
gets settled in, and perhaps an initial rapport is established.
investigative questions are next, and these apply regardless to witness, victim
and suspect. Ask open-ended questions and allow the person to tell his/her
is the part where the subject does 80 percent of the talking. Ask questions to
clarify details. Ask questions to get information not covered. Don’t interrupt.
Allow the subject to tell the entire, “pure” version. Prompt him/her to go on,
to add detail.
behavior provoking questions are different. These can be punishment questions
like, “what do you think should happen to the person who committed this crime?”
Truthful and deceptive people will answer these series of innocent questions in
drastically different ways. For example, on the punishment questions, the
truthful person will give appropriately strong, throw-the-book-at-them answers.
The deceptive person will offer a softer punishment, one that may depend on
circumstances, one where paying back a theft or a warning or an apology is the
essence of the punishment.
provoking questions include the topics of a second chance, whether the subject
ever even thought about doing such a thing, how he/she thinks the investigation
will turn out, and how the subject would explain incriminating evidence if such
evidence is developed. With each behavior provoking question, the truthful
person and the deceptive person will respond and react in drastically different
is famous for the Nine Steps of Interrogation. However, they are quick to point
out that these hinge on the three segments of questions given during the
Behavioral Analysis Interview. The interrogation depends on, and is conditional
on, what was learned during the interview.
this is a three-hour version of the 40-hour course, only Steps One, Two, Three
and Seven of the Nine Steps are covered. These are arguably the most important
ones. The other Steps are common to any interrogation method.
One is a direct, positive confrontation where the suspect is clearly accused of
guilt. It is a calm, non-nonsense, “The investigation shows that you committed
the crime.” Importantly, the detective waves off, shuts down any denial, and
instead immediately moves onto Step Two—the theme development.
theme, or good excuse, or face-saving reason, is by far the most important
phase of the Reid Technique. In a monologue, the detective will propose or
suggest reasons and motives as to why the suspect committed the crime. This can
be an attempt to place blame on another person or a set of circumstances. The
whole idea is to develop a theme for WHY the suspect did the act, not IF he did
Three is handling denials before they can be fully voiced. The more the suspect
denies the act, the harder it is to get him/her to admit to it later. Uss
verbal statements and non-verbal gestures. Step Four, overcoming objections, is
related to handling denials. Step Five, keeping the suspects attention, the
related and Step Six handling passive moods are all briefly covered.
Seven is presenting an alternative question. This is active persuasion and it
includes a supportive statement. The question offers the suspect two
incriminating choices, one with a good reason, one with a bad reason. Either
answer is an admission. The detective uses the supportive statement to tell the
suspect that he/she thinks it was done for the good, face-saving reason.
the robbery planned out, or just an impulse, a spur of the moment? I am sure it
was an impulse.” “Has this happened several times before, or was this the first
time? I am sure this was the first time.”
Eight follows the suspect’s admission of involvement in the crime. The
detective asks for details of the crime he/she just admitted doing, something
only the guilty would know. Step Nine is simply turning the verbal confession
into a written confession.
a non-accusatory interview. Observe the verbal and non-verbal responses.
Develop a “theme,” which is a good reason for the suspect to have committed the
crime. Shutdown denials. Ask the alternative questions, which are two
incriminating choices, one that is face-saving, one that is not.
Ed. Note: Heads-up for the instructor
who is setting up or moderating the online presentation: the main narration is
monophonic. However, most of the role-play case studies are stereo. The
question asked by the detective comes through one speaker/channel. Be sure your
laptop picks up both. Do a test on Part Seven to be sure.