Interviewing a Suspect

This paper discusses key areas to think about before and during an interview with a potential criminal suspect. Such areas include deciding how to compose oneself during the interview as well as determining what psychological as well as physiological signs to look out for while interviewing the suspect.

Interviewing a Suspect
Given the way in which this particular suspect has been brought into the questioninginterview area, it would be wise to collect ones thoughts and disposition before entering the room. The key is to look for give away signs from the suspect not to give the suspect a number of signs or reasons not to talk.
First, considering the violent crime that has been committed and the way in which the suspect reacted to the arrest, it would be a good idea to enter the interview cool, calm, and collected exhibiting no signs of anger, cruelty, or sympathy for that matter. According to an online Code of Police Practice, it is a good idea to mentally place yourself in the suspects shoes to gain a better understanding of how the suspect is feeling and mentally reacting to the interviewing process (Code of Police 2010). For instance, with such a violent crime followed by a forceful arrest, the suspects nerves are going to be highly reactive and sensitive to anything said. The questioning will need to be slow and calm in order not to set the suspect off or close the suspect down. It will be good to note that the suspect will most likely be exhausted from the criminal act and the fight against being arrested. The suspects exhaustion, tiredness, and possibly thirst and even hunger should be played against him. With this attitude in place, the questions presented will be much more persuasive and successful in accomplishing the ultimate purpose of getting the suspect to talk.

Throughout the interview, certain eye movements and other particular modes of body language should be noted to help determine whether the suspect is telling the truth, playing a game to wear on your patience, or simply lying because he has mentally blocked out the heinous events of the last several hours. Nonverbal signs to look for include the suspects inability to sit still. Fidgeting, nail biting, lip chewing, excessive swallowing, aggressive movement of the body, scratching, rubbing, turning the head away or throwing the head back, changing the position of the legs or even stretching them away from the interviewer are all key signs that something is not adding up with the suspects story (Walters 2002). Other nonverbal signs to look for include conflicting behaviors between verbal and nonverbal cues. For instance, the suspect may verbally say one thing while non-verbally be shaking his head in the opposite position (such as contradicting himself with a yes or no head shake).

Knowledge of neurolinguistic eye movement will also be helpful throughout the interview. Neurolinguistic eye movement is a way an interviewer can determine whether or not the suspect is lying. For instance, some are taught that when a suspect answers a question by moving his eyes up and then to the left then he is visually constructing images that may or may not have actually occurred. If he moves his eyes down and to the right then he is visually remembering images (Eye Direction 2010). The direction of eye movement is said to be based on if the suspect is right or left handed (Eye Direction 2010). At the same time, other eye movements such as pupil dilation should also be noted (Walters 1997).

Finally, there are three specific types of body languages that should be noted throughout the interview process. These are sure signs of the suspects credibility and accuracy of retelling the events leading up to, during, and after the crime. These types of body language come from the headface, the handsarms, and the legsfeet. As noted earlier, a sure sign of anxiety, stress, and lying is changing positions of the feet or legs particularly moving them away from the interviewer. Movements of the eyes, a forced smile, or even eye twitching are signs of lying. Controlling body languages are also a heads up for trouble. Some suspects will intentionally sit on their hands or place their hands in their pockets to keep themselves from fidgeting or to keep themselves under control (Walters 2002). There are obviously many ways to handle an interview with a suspect, the main thing to remember is to be prepared with a thoroughly planned out strategy.


Post a Comment