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  05/26/2020What questions should I ask during the investigative interview?

In an effort to assist investigators in determining the type of investigative and behavior provoking questions to ask during an interview, as well as the themes and alternative questions that can be used if an interrogation is appropriate, we have developed the following information for you to have at your fingertips. 

For each of the crimes listed below we will provide you with suggestions as to the type of investigative information to develop during the interview, how to phrase the behavior provoking questions, and if an interrogation is warranted, what themes and alternatives may be appropriate. As an example, here is the information for Arson cases:

Click Here for the Tip.

  04/24/2020Interviewing Strategy For Intelligence Gathering

Obtaining information about another's unlawful activities (or planned misconduct that has not yet been executed) can be more challenging than asking one to acknowledge their own prior misdeeds. The code of silence, or omerta, is a powerful deterrent, because disclosure creates fear of retribution or being branded as untrustworthy.

Intelligence gathering for events such as espionage, narcotics distribution, human 􏰍counter-intel or military operations prioritizes identification of co-conspirators, source and disposition of contraband, safe house locations, informant credibility, as well as preemptive discovery of impending future illicit behavior.

How does one approach tactical questioning, debriefing, or interrogation when the mission is to determine what a person knows versus what they’ve already done? 

Click here for the complete article

  4/13/2020‘Virus of hate’ spotlights importance of interrogation themes

by Louis C. Senese  VP of John E. Reid and Associates   (published online at

Amid an uptick in coronavirus-related hate crimes, investigators can use empathy to relate to offenders  

It appears that the number of hate crimes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing at an alarming rate.

"People are worried about the coronavirus, which we're watching in this state – there's also a virus of hate, and it's spreading, and it's spreading quickly,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in Albany, New York.

New York Attorney General Letitia James launched a hotline for victims of coronavirus-related bias crimes.

California Governor Gavin Newsom described a "huge increase" in assaults targeting the Asian-American community in his state.

When an individual is identified as an alleged COVID-19 hate crime offender, selecting the proper interrogation theme is critical in soliciting the truth. In Anatomy of Interrogation Themes, I address many hate crimes against persons and property, as well as bullying. However, I would like to offer more specific interrogation themes addressing this topic as it relates to the COVID-19 outbreak.   

Click here for the complete article.

  4/10/2020Investigator Tips by Category

In an effort to make it more convenient for our readers to enhance the learning experience, we have organized the Investigator Tips that we have published on our website since 1998 by category.  The first list will be Tips that address Interviewing topics.  Subsequent postings will be the following topics: Interrgoation  -  Behavior Symptom Analysis  -  and, False Confession Issues.

Click here for Interviewing Investigator Tips

  4/10/2020Legal Updates Winter 2020
The Legal Updates Winter 2020 column contains cases which address the following issues:

  • Incriminating statements were made in violation of Miranda 
  • Confession voluntariness: ambiguous request to terminate the questioning and over stating the evidence is not coercive 
  • The value of recording the interrogation
  • Criteria to determine custody
  • Miranda waiver requirements for a juvenile

Click here to view the updates.

  3/10/2020Telephone Interviewing Techniques Part Two
When conducting a telephone interview, the investigator is always trying to assess the credibility of the information that the subject is providing by comparing the information to known case facts and evidence, as well as evaluating the verbal characteristics of the subject’s responses.  In part Two of this Telephone Interviewing Techniques Investigator Tip we will focus on the verbal and paralinguistic behaviors that the investigator should listen for as indications of truth or deception.  Click Here for the March/April Tip

Click Here for the March/April Tip

  2/12/2020 Clarifying Misrepresentations About Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques
Over the years social psychologists, defenses attorneys and some academicians have offered a number of criticisms of current law enforcement interrogation practices, and, in particular, the Reid Technique. Some of these criticisms are that:
  • the goal of an interrogation is to get a confession whether it is true or not
  • investigators use minimization tactics in which they offer the suspect leniency if he confesses, and harsher punishment (maximization) if he does not
  • investigators oftentimes interrogate innocent people whom they have erroneously classified as guilty
  • investigators use coercive tactics and procedures to secure confessions
  • investigators feed crime details to the suspect so that the authenticity of their incriminating statements is difficult to assess
  • investigators lie to the suspect about evidence
  • investigators do not modify their tactics when questioning juveniles or mentally impaired individuals
  • the interrogation is designed to make the suspect feel isolated and hopeless so that he sees no way out except to confess
  • the Reid Technique is a guilt presumptive approach
In this paper we will address each of these criticisms and set the record straight as to exactly what we teach with respect to law enforcement interrogation techniques, and the Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation in particular.  (Updated February 2020)

Click Here

  12/31/2019Telephone Interviewing Techniques Part One (January/Feburary Investigator Tip)
Certainly the ideal circumstance for an investigative interview is a face-to-face meeting with the subject.  However, due to a variety of factors, it is becoming more and more frequent for investigators to conduct telephone interviews.  Part One of this Investigator Tip will highlight some of the issues to consider and the guidelines to follow in order to conduct an effective telephone investigative interview.  Part Two will focus on the verbal and paralinguistic behaviors that the investigator should listen for during the interview that will help assess the credibility of the information provided by the subject. 

Click here for the Tip.

  12/19/2019No case supports the contention that using the Reid technique renders and adult’s confession inadmissible

In the case State v. Belaunde (December 2019) the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division when considering the voluntariness of the defendant’s incriminating statement, stated in their opinion that "No case supports the contention that using the Reid technique renders an adult’s confession inadmissible. A suspect will have a “natural reluctance ... to admit to the commission of a crime and furnish details.” Miller, 76 N.J. at 403. Therefore, “an interrogating officer ... [may] dissipate this reluctance and persuade the person to talk ... as long as the will of the suspect is not overborne.” Ibid. Recognizing that the “[q]uestioning of a suspect almost necessarily involves the use of psychological factors,” our Supreme Court held that “appealing to a person's sense of decency and urging him to tell the truth for his own sake are applications of psychological principals,” that are permissible. Id. at 405. Likewise, “[t]he fact that the police lie to a suspect does not, by itself, render a confession involuntary.” Galloway, 133 N.J. at 655.

Click here for the complete decision.

  12/16/2019Cases that demonstrate the value of electronically recording interrogations
Since 2007 we have been posting on our website in our quarterly Legal Update columns court decisions that illustrate the value of electronically recording interrogations. These cases illustrate the importance of the recordings to demonstrate the unfounded defendant claims of coercive interrogation techniques, as well as instances when the interrogator did act improperly.  We have prepared a document that highlights over 40 of these cases for your review. 

If you want to find additional cases go to and Search “The Value of Recording Interrogations.”

Click here for the complete document.

  12/16/2019Legal Updates Fall 2019
The Legal Updates Fall 2019 column contains cases which address the following issues:
  • The investigator’s discussion of religion during defendant's interrogation did not rise to the level of a beneficial promise
  • Court reject’s defendant’s claim that his confession was coerced because he was held in custody overnight for approximately twelve hours prior to his confession with minimal sleep and no food and water 
  • Court details criteria to consider in determining custody 
  • Telling the defendant that cooperation would be his best option did not amount to a promise of leniency 
  • The value of video recording the interrogation  (Case 1)   
  • The value of video recording the interrogation  (Case 2)  
  • Court outlines acceptable interrogator techniques  
  • Advising the defendant that the alleged victim (a minor) was claiming the sexual conduct was forcible which the investigator described as rape, while stating that he (the investigator) believed the conduct could have been consensual, was not coercive (Value of recording)
  • Confession suppressed because unequivocal invocation of right to a lawyer was ignored (Value of recording)  
  • Is the statement “They [will] throw the book at you” a threat?

Click here for the updates

  11/8/2019Should Investigators Be Allowed To Lie About Evidence To A Subject During Interrogation?

The state of New York is considering legislation that would prohibit investigators from lying to a subject about evidence in the case, such as indicating to the subject during the interrogation that there is a DNA match with samples taken from the victim; that there is a witness who says that they saw the subject commit the crime; that the subject’s finger prints were found at the scene of the crime; or that an accomplice made an incriminating statement implicating the subject in the commission of the crime.  Let’s examine what the courts say about investigators lying about evidence, whether or not lying about evidence is likely to cause a false confession, and what we teach about the use of deception during an interrogation.  

Click here for the complete article

  10/15/2019John E. Reid and Associates has filed a lawsuit against Netflix
On Monday, October 14, 2019, John E. Reid and Associates filed a lawsuit against Netflix in federal court in Chicago and alleges that Netflix and others defamed Reid in the broadcast of the series, When They See Us

We have attached a copy of the complaint for your review.

  9/27/2019Legal Updates Summer 2019
The Legal Updates Summer 2019 column contains cases which address the following issues:
  • Investigator’s promises rendered the defendant’s confession involuntary (Case 1)
  • Investigator’s promises rendered the defendant’s confession involuntary (Case 2)
  • Defendant does not have to know the issue he will be questioned about to make a knowing and intelligent waiver of rights
  • Confession voluntariness and the value of recording the interrogation (Case 1)  
  • Confession voluntariness and the value of recording the interrogation (Case 2)

Click here for the updates

  9/18/2019The Reid Technique…..Here’s What’s Really Going On

The Reid Technique is the most widely used and well-known method of questioning subjects in the world because of its efficiency and built in safeguards to protect the innocent and identify the guilty.  However, because the name is so universally known, it has become attached to all interview and interrogation techniques….even those that are egregious and that we teach never to employ.

It’s like the name Kleenex. When someone asks for a tissue, even when they refer to it as a kleenex, they do not necessarily mean the brand name…..but the term kleenex has became the universal term for a tissue.  So to has the Reid name become associated with all interrogation techniques – even those that are bad.

Here is what we do teach:

Click here for the complete article

  9/16/2019Professor Alan Hirsch misrepresents the Reid Technique
It was brought to our attention that in the case Ohio v. Richardson (broadcast on Court TV) that Professor Alan Hirsch testified on behalf of the defense stating that in his opinion, the confession made by the defendant was coerced and included in his testimony a statement that the investigators used a very aggressive  version of the Reid Technique in which they promised the defendant that nothing would happen to them if they confessed.

While we do not know what was said in this interrogation - we have not see the transcript or video - we teach that investigators should never make a promise of leniency to the subject.  Professor Hirsch has repeatedly tried to claim that the Reid Technique is coercive, but as one federal judge stated, "Although Professor Hirsch insisted that “there is a wealth of information about the risks of the Reid technique,” he could point to none.” *

Here are the core principles of the Reid Technique:

    Do not make any promises of leniency 
    Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences 
    Do not conduct interrogations for an excessively lengthy period of time 
    Do not deny the subject any of their rights 
    Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs 
   Withhold information about the details of the crime from the subject so that if the subject confesses the disclosure of that information can be used to confirm the authenticity of the statement 
    Exercise special cautions when questioning juveniles or individuals with mental or psychological impairments 
    Always treat the subject with dignity and respect
   The confession is not the end of the investigation – investigate the confession details in an effort to establish the authenticity of the subject’s statement

* US v. Jacques (784 F.Supp.2d 59)  Here is a more complete statement from the Judge re Alan Hirsch: 

“In his declaration and at the hearing, Professor Hirsch explained that the primary cause of “coerced compliant” confessions are certain interrogation methods employed by law enforcement, including a widely used method known as the Reid technique….Beyond his own intuition, however, Professor Hirsch offered no basis for concluding that these tactics had any tendency necessarily to cause false, rather than true, confessions.

... Professor Hirsch's declaration offered no other evidence of the danger of certain police interrogation tactics, and the Reid technique in particular, except to say that “the use of these tactics [employed in the Reid technique] and their correlation with false confessions are extensively documented in the literature....Despite this broad statement, he did not provide any further explanation…”

In sum, the proffered expert testimony to the effect that the Reid technique enhanced the risk of an unreliable confession lacked any objective basis for support whatever. Although Professor Hirsch insisted that “there is a wealth of information about the risks of the Reid technique,” he could point to none.”

  9/6/2019This entry is for reporters doing a story that includes a reference to or discussion about the Reid Technique

Here are a few links to articles or postings from this What’s New page that you may find to be of some interest and value if you will be writing an article on the issue of interrogation and The Reid Technique:

  • What questions should be asked to determine the voluntariness and validity of a subject’s confession?   See entry 8/27/2019
  • Don’t Be Fooled –They use the core elements of the Reid Technique
  • Development of THE REID TECHNIQUE®
  • Modifying Techniques When Questioning Juveniles and Individuals with Mental or Psychological Disabilities - See 6/28/2019 entry
  • If they had followed the core principles of the Reid Technique these false confessions would not have occurred  - See 6/27/2019 entry
  • Netflix Defames Reid - See 6/19/2019 entry
  • References to John E. Reid and Associates in Making a Murderer Part 2  - See 11/05/2018 entry
  • Reid and the Innocence Project  - See 3/29/2018 entry
  • Clarifying Misrepresentations about Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques  - See 1/26/2018 entry
  •  “There’s a lot of gold in the Reid interrogation manual and on and we really really encourage you guys to go up there and cite that material” - See 6/05/2017 entry
  • The development of then-cnfrontational interview - See 5/18/2017 entry
  • How the courts view the Reid Technique   - See 1/25/2017 entry and recent entry dated 8/20/2019
  • International research validates the core principles of the Reid Technique - See 5/11/2015 entry

  8/27/2019September/October 2019 Investigator Tip

What questions should be asked to determine the voluntariness and validity of a subject’s confession?

While there are numerous issues to consider in the process of evaluating the voluntariness and validity of a subject’s confession, the following questions may be helpful in making such an assessment. 

Click here for the Investigator Tip

  8/21/2019How the Courts View Interview and Interrogation Techniques

On a quarterly basis we publish on our website Legal Updates, providing our clients and readers with the latest in court decisions on a variety of interrogation and confession issues.  In this article we will highlight some of those recent decisions regarding: 

  • Minimization
  • Misrepresenting evidence to a subject
  • Improper interrogation techniques
  • The value of recording interrogations 

Click here.

Click Here to view earlier "What's New"