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  02/10/2015Toronto Sun Gets It Wrong
In a recent article entitled, "Peel Regional Police investigative techniques questioned" the author, Sam Pazzano, makes a number of erroneous statements about The Reid Technique, primarily based on the information he received from two lawyers involved in the Mikey Spence case. Here is the email that we sent to Mr. Pazzano:

Mr. Pazzano,

I just read your article entitled, "Peel Regional Police investigative techniques questioned" and was very surprised that with your extensive discussion of The Reid Technique you did not call our office to ask us about the technique that we have been teaching to the law enforcement community for over 50 years. At the very least I would think that you would want to confirm whether or not the description of the Reid Technique given to you by lawyers James Fleming and David Schulman was, in fact, accurate.

Let me clarify a few of the errors in your article.
The Reid Technique is built on a core of principles that include the following:

  1. Always conduct interviews and interrogations in accordance with the guidelines established by the courts
  2. Do not make any promises of leniency

  3. Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences

  4. Do not deny the subject any of their rights

  5. Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs

  6. Always treat the subject with dignity and respect

In your article you quote Fleming and Schulman as stating that "The Reid Technique presumes the person is guilty." That simply is not the case. The Reid Technique, when applied as we teach the process, should always begin with a non-accusatory interview designed to develop investigative and behavioral information. During this interview process (which some investigators equate with the PEACE model) the investigator plays a neutral and objective fact finder. It is only when the investigative information and evidence indicate that that a subject may be withholding or fabricating relevant information that an interrogation would take place. Accusing a subject of lying should never be the first contact with a subject.

In your article you state, "In Canada, there have been a number of high profile cases where police interrogators using the Reid technique created false confessions, some of which resulted in wrongful convictions." That is absolutely not true. False confessions are not caused by the proper application of The Reid Technique, they are caused when the investigators engage in behavior that the courts have deemed to be coercive - threats of harm or inevitable consequences; promises of leniency; denial of a subject's rights; and excessively long interrogations to name a few. In reality, the Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently upheld the techniques that we teach.

In the case of R. v. Amos (2009) the Ontario Superior Court upheld the techniques that the interrogator successfully used to obtain a confession, many of which are elements of the Reid Technique. For example, when discussing the interrogator's efforts to minimize the suspect's moral responsibility, the court stated the following:

There is nothing problematic or objectionable about police, when questioning suspects, in downplaying or minimizing the moral culpability of their alleged criminal activity. I find there was nothing improper in these and other similar transcript examples where [the detective] minimized [the accused's] moral responsibility. At no time did he suggest that a confession by the subject would result in reduced or minimal legal consequences. Those questions did not minimize the offence anywhere close to the extent of oppression within the meaning of Oickle and other authorities. In using the words "this is your opportunity" to tell your story, and statements to the effect that "your credibility is at its highest now", and in asserting to the accused that he would not be as credible ten months down the road at trial when he had "spoken to lawyers", and the like, the detective was making an approach to the accused's intellect and conscience.

In R. v. Oickle, (2000) the Canadian Supreme Court overturned a lower court's suppression of an arson confession and expressed implicit approval of many of the interrogation techniques utilized in The Reid Technique. In Oickle, the Court of Appeals suggested that the interrogator's understanding demeanor improperly abused the suspect's trust. The Canadian Supreme Court disagreed stating,

"In essence, the court [of appeals] criticizes the police for questioning the respondent in such a gentle, reassuring manner that they gained his trust. This does not render a confession inadmissible. To hold otherwise would send the perverse message to police that they should engage in adversarial, aggressive questioning to ensure they never gain the suspect's trust, lest an ensuing confession be excluded."

Furthermore, in Oickle, the Court of Appeals concluded that the police improperly offered leniency to the suspect by minimizing the seriousness of his offense. The Supreme Court again disagreed stating,

"Insofar as the police simply downplayed the moral culpability of the offence, their actions were not problematic."

In Oickle the Supreme Court offers support for the investigator's necessity to be less than truthful in persuasive efforts during an interrogation. It referenced to the often cited decision of Justice Lamer who wrote, "The investigation of crime and the detection of criminals is not a game to be governed by the Marques's of Queensbury rules. The authorities, in dealing with shrewd and often sophisticated criminals, must sometimes of necessity resort to tricks or other forms of deceit and should not through the rule be hampered in their work. What should be repressed vigorously is conduct on their part that shocks the community." (Rothman v. The Queen, 1981)

In the Reid Technique we teach that when a suspect appears to be debating whether or not to tell the truth, the use of an alternative question can be a very effective means to obtain the first acknowledgement of the truth. Examples of an alternative question include, "Have you done this many times before or was this just the first time?", "Did you blow that money on drugs and partying, or did you use it to pay bills?", "Was this whole thing your idea or did you get talked into it?" It is important to recognize that none of these alternative questions address real consequences the suspect may face. This concept is emphasized repeatedly during training in The Reid Technique, including several examples of improper alternative questions. An example of an improper alternative question is, "If you planned this out and it was premeditated then we're talking first degree murder. That means spending the rest of your life behind bars. On the other hand, if this happened on the spur of the moment then it's just manslaughter." Clearly this alternative question is telling the suspect that if he confesses to manslaughter he will be sentenced less harshly. It is improper and could be used as grounds to suppress a confession.

In Oickle, the Court of Appeals expressed concern that the use of an alternative question implied a threat or promise of leniency. In refuting this argument, the Canadian Supreme Court offers a clear test of whether or not an implied threat or promise crosses the legal line to where an ambiguous statement may invalidate a confession. In their opinion they state,

"The most important consideration in all cases is to look for a quid pro quo offer by interrogators, regardless of whether it comes in the form of a threat or a promise."

A relevant passage from R. v. Rennie illustrates excellent insight into the criminal mind:

"Very few confessions are inspired solely by remorse. Often the motives of an accused are mixed and include a hope that an early admission may lead to an earlier release or a lighter sentence. If it were the law that the mere presence of such a motive, even if promoted by something said or done by a person in authority, led inexorably to the exclusion of a confession, nearly every confession would be rendered inadmissible. This is not the law. In some cases the hope may be self-generated. If so, it is irrelevant, even if it provides the dominant motive for making the confession. There can be few prisoners who are being firmly but fairly questioned in a police station to whom it does not occur that they might be able to bring both their interrogation and their detention to an earlier end by confession."

There are always two sides to every story - as a reporter I thought that would be a paramount concern of yours - to present both sides.

Joseph P. Buckley
John E. Reid and Associates

Current What's New:
  04/11/2017The Reid Technique - Celebrating 70 Years of Excellence
Founded in 1947, the Reid Technique has become the gold standard for proper interview and interrogation procedures.

Our Core Principles are as follows:
  • Always conduct interviews and interrogations in accordance with the guidelines established by the courts
  • Do not make any promises of leniency
  • Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences
  • Do not deny the subject any of their rights
  • Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs
  • Always treat the subject with dignity and respect

Click here for full story.






We are responding to Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates' (W-Z) recent public announcement that it will no longer be offering the Reid Method in its law enforcement training program.  After teaching the Reid Method for the past 33 years under a license agreement with John E. Reid & Associates, W-Z is now attempting to discredit the Reid Method as having “fallen under scrutiny due to its potential risk for eliciting false confessions,” a false narrative often advanced by defense attorneys.


Over the past 50 years, several hundred thousand law enforcement officers have taken our course.  It is regarded by the law enforcement community as the gold standard in interviewing and interrogating suspects in criminal investigations.  Using the Reid technique does not result in false confessions.  Just the opposite is true.  False confessions result when suspects in criminal investigations are interrogated using methods which we specifically advise NOT TO USE. 

Click here for our complete response


Calibre Press article by Owner Jim Glennon re the WZ Press Release

Does Reid & Associates teach officers a confrontational method of interviewing and interrogating that results in false confessions? I ask that question because recently they were basically accused of that. Or rather-the method they teach was accused of that.

So does their method result in false confessions? Not at all.

First it's important to address this at the outset: I have absolutely no relationship whatsoever with Reid & Associates, who I believe to have the premier interview and interrogation training program in the country. I have, however, been to more than a half a dozen classes, seminars and lectures conducted by them over my 30-year career.

Click here for complete article

  03/14/2017The International Encyclopedia of Interprersonal Communication includes an excellent article entitled, Interrogation.
The International Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Communication, First Edition, edited by Charles R. Berger and Michael E. Roloff (2016) includes an excellent article on current interrogation methodology by Stanley M. Slowik, president o Stanley M. Slowik, Inc.  Here is the article’s Abstract:
Interrogation is the art of persuading a guilty person to tell the truth.  Discussion includes interrogation behaviors that distinguish truth and deception, differences between interviews and interrogations, admissions and confessions, false expectations and false promises of leniency.  Interrogation methodologies are examined within the context of legality and effectiveness. 

Click here to access the article.

  01/25/2017How the Courts View the Reid Technique

As we move into 2017 we will be celebrating 70 years of excellence.  John E. Reid founded the company in 1947.  Over the last seven decades the Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation has become the gold standard of the industry.

In July 2014, at the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys conference there was a presentation entitled, “Theories and Advocacy Strategies in False Confession Cases.”  The presenters were Steve Drizin, Center on Wrongful Convictions, Chicago, IL; Laura Nirider, Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, Chicago, IL.  In their presentation they stated that Reid is the gold standard on proper procedures, and that they regularly review and our materials to establish best practices and to point out what other investigators did that was improper.  They specifically reference our cautions re the questioning of juveniles.

We have prepared a PDF document and a Power Point program detailing the Core Principles of the Reid Technique and how the courts view the Reid Technique.  Here is the content of the material:

-  Core Principles of the Reid Technique                                                           

-  What is the Reid Technique?                                                                          

-  How the Courts View Minimization                                                              

-  How the Courts View Misrepresenting Evidence to the Suspect                  

-  How the Courts View Being Friendly and Empathetic with the Suspect      

-  How the Courts View the Alternative Question                                            

-  Several Courts have Admonished Investigators for Not Following Reid Guidelines

-  Federal Court - No Basis for the Claim that the Reid Technique is coercive

-  False Confession Expert Testimony About the “Coercive” Nature of the Reid Technique is Rejected 

-  Reid as the Gold Standard 

Click here for the Power Point program

Click here for the pdf

How Courts View the Reid Technique Dec 2016.pdf

  01/16/2017Recording Juvenile Interrogations in Illinois

Click below for a  copy of the legislation that modifies The Juvenile Court Act of 1987, expanding the requirement to electronically recored juvenile interrogations in Illinois.

Also, here is a link to the Chicago Police Department  Special Order regarding the electronic recording of interrogations of juveniles under 18 years of age:  

Click here for Copy of Legislation

  01/16/2017States that require electronic recording of interrogations

Attorney Thomas Sullivan has done extensive work on promoting the value of electronically recording interrogations and he has extensively surveyed police departments around the country to determine the extent of recording interrogations.  Attorney Sullivan has provided a list of 23 states and the District of Columbia that require that interrogations be electronically recorded. 

Click Here

Attorney Sullivan has also provided a Model Recording Act adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.  

Click here for Model Recording Act

  01/06/2017Excellent example of how false confession experts misrepresent what we teach in the Reid Technique

In State v. Tapke  the Court of Appeals of Ohio upheld the defendant's confession which was obtained by an officer who was trained in The Reid Technique. Dr. Richard Ofshe testified about false confessions and attempted to describe The Reid Technique. The jury subsequently rejected his testimony and "chose not to discredit it [the confession]."

It is interesting to note that in his testimony Dr. Ofshe testified that as part of The Reid Technique interrogators are taught the following:

"So what police have learned to do is to communicate the message through a series of suggestions… the idea being to communicate the understanding that there’s a deal on the table, but without ever explicitly saying here’s the deal.” He used the example of a person accused of GSI. He testified that the police would say something like this to a suspect: "[Y]ou're not a sexual predator; you're someone who needs treatment. What would you rather do, go to prison as a sex offender, or get some therapy in treatment."

It is interesting to note that the exact opposite is the case - we teach not to make any statements that refer to punishment, threats or promises of leniency and in our training seminars we highlight the case, Commonwealth v. DiGiambattista, in which the Massachusetts Supreme Court indicated that "what seemed to disturb the Court the most was the apparent reference to counseling which they felt "implicitly suggested to him that "counseling" would be an appropriate avenue for him to pursue after making a confession." In other words, if he confessed he would get counseling instead of jail." This is exactly what we teach not to do

Click here for the complete decision

  01/01/2017January/February 2017 Investigator Tip: Ten

Physical coercion, torture, duress, denial of rights, threats, and promises of leniency are the poison pills of legally admissible, reliable, and voluntary confessions.  Obviously we should not engage in such behaviors or any tactics that could render a confession involuntary.  This article is intended to assist the professional investigator by outlining statements and techniques that should be avoided so as to insure the integrity of the subject’s confession.

Click Here

  10/26/2016Dr. Richard Leo Testimony In Jimerson v. State (June 2016)

In Jimerson v. State (June 2016) Dr. Richard Leo testified about police interrogation techniques and specifically referenced the Reid Technique.  The following is a discussion of several statements that Dr. Leo made during his testimony (as stated in the court’s decision) and our response. Dr. Leo’s statements are in italics.

To view the testimony and response, click here

  10/25/2016The suggestion that the Reid Technique is prohibited in Great Britain (or any country) is a false statement

In a recent court case (Radilla-Esquivel v. State) and an article discussing false confessions, there were references that “the Reid Technique is prohibited in some countries.”  That is a false statement. 


Click here to read why this is false...

  09/08/2016September/October 2016 Investigator Tip: When Co-Offenders Are Being Interrogated Consider ìPlaying One Against the Otherî

"When two or more persons have collaborated in the commission of a criminal offense and are later apprehended for questioning, there is usually a nagging fear on the part of each participant that one of them will "talk." Individually, each of them may feel confident of his own ability to evade detection and to avoid confessing, but they generally do not experience a comparable degree of confidence with regard to the co-offender's ability or even willingness to do so. Uppermost in their minds is the possibility that one of them will confess in an effort to obtain special consideration.”

Click here for the complete tip.

  08/31/2016Dr. Richard Leo report describes his view of false confession issues and police interrogation techniques

In a recent report in an alleged false confession case, Dr. Richard Leo describes his view of current law enforcement interrogation techniques and the various issues associated with false confessions. Dr. Leo’s comments are reflective of the current approach that most false confession experts take when they discuss the issue.

Click here to view the key elements of the report.

  08/16/2016Westlaw recognizes the Reid Technique
In their annual publication, Law of Confessions 2016, published by Thomson Reuters Westlaw, the authors include the following comments in their discussion of interrogation approaches:
“Coercion can be psychological as well as physical.  This does not typically involve intimidation.  Modern police eschew these techniques, not just because they are unlawful, but because they are ineffective.  Police have been trained to use the “Reid technique,”  which calls for police to be patient and understanding, break down the suspect’s resistance to confessing by expressing confidence in the defendant’s guilt, and providing the suspect with explanations for the crime that place blame on others or rationalize the criminal behavior.” The authors then go on to detail the decision in U.S. Jacques, 744 F.3d 804 (1st Cir. 2014) which found that the various techniques that we teach “all fall safely within the realm of permissible” procedure that the courts have sanctioned.

  08/15/2016The confession of Brendan Dassey (ìMaking a Murdererî) ruled to be involuntary

In Dassey v. Dittmann (August 2016) the US District Court, E.D. Wisconsin, ruled that Brendan Dassey’s confession was involuntary.  Brendan Dassey’s confession to involvement in the murder of Teresa Halbach was depicted in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer”.  The District Court ruled that the confession was the result of promises of leniency.

The District Court stated that, “the state courts unreasonably found that the investigators never made Dassey any promises during the March 1, 2006 interrogation. The investigators repeatedly claimed to already know what happened on October 31 and assured Dassey that he had nothing to worry about. These repeated false promises, when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult, rendered Dassey’s confession involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.”

From the District Court’s opinion:

The court must look to all relevant facts to determine whether Dassey’s March 1 confession was voluntary. The interview occurred mid-day rather than in the early morning hours, or at a time when Dassey might expect to be asleep… The questioning was not particularly prolonged. Although Dassey was in the interview room from about 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., the relevant questioning spanned less than three hours…  Dassey was left alone for less than two hours, the longest single stretch being about 50 minutes. He was offered food and beverages. Although the interview occurred in a police station, it was in a “soft interview room,” with carpeting and upholstered furniture as opposed to a room with an uncarpeted floor, a hard table, and chairs. Wiegert advised Dassey of his rights under Miranda, including the right to not answer questions, to stop the questioning, and to have an attorney appointed for him and present during any questioning.

Dassey exhibited no signs of agitation or distress throughout the interview (he sobbed only after being told he was under arrest). The investigators maintained calm tones, never using aggressive or confrontational tactics. If these were the only relevant facts, they would tend to support a finding that the March 1 confession was voluntary. But when assessed against all of the circumstances of Dassey’s interrogation, these facts are overshadowed by far more consequential facts.

For starters, Dassey was a juvenile – only 16 years old – at the time of his confession.

Also significant is the fact that investigators questioned Dassey without the presence of a arent or other adult looking out for his interests.  It is true that neither federal law nor the United States Constitution requires that the police even inform a juvenile’s parents that the juvenile is being questioned or honor a juvenile’s request that a parent or other adult (other than a lawyer) be present during questioning…  However, because “[i]t is easier to overbear the will of a juvenile than of a parent or attorney, ... in marginal cases–when it appears the officer or agent has attempted to take advantage of the suspect’s youth or mental shortcomings–lack of parental or legal advice could tip the balance against admission.”

Not only did Dassey not have the benefit of an adult present to look out for his interests, the investigators exploited the absence of such an adult by repeatedly suggesting that
they were looking out for his interests: “I wanna assure you that Mark and I both are in your corner, we’re on your side ...” and “... I’m your friend right now, but I ... gotta believe in you and if I don’t believe in you, I can’t go to bat for you.”

Moreover, Dassey’s borderline to below average intellectual ability likely made
  him more susceptible to coercive pressures than a peer of higher intellect… Although he attended regular education classes, Dassey received special education support services.

Ten years earlier, his IQ was assessed at an overall score of 74.

Crucial in the voluntariness analysis is what the investigators told Dassey at the beginning of the interrogation. Fassbender assured Dassey, “from what I’m seeing ... I’m thinking you’re all right. OK, you don’t have to worry about things.”  In isolation, such a statement would not be a problem. Based on what the investigators actually knew at that time, they very possibly believed Dassey to be merely a witness.

However, less than two minutes later, Wiegert assured Dassey, “We  pretty much know everything[.] [T]hat’s why we’re talking to you again today.” … The combination of these statements, that the investigators already “pretty much know everything” and that Dassey did not “have to worry about things,” is an entirely different matter. The investigators were not merely telling Dassey, “Based upon what you have told us so far, we don’t think you have anything to worry about.”  Rather, what they told Dassey was, “We already know what happened and you don’t have anything to worry about.”  The investigators’ assertions that they already knew what happened and assurances that Dassey did not have anything to worry about were not confined to an isolated instance at the beginning but rather persisted throughout the interrogation.

Dassey’s conduct during the interrogation and his reaction to being told he was  under arrest clearly indicate that he really did believe that, if he told the investigators what they professed to already know, he would not be arrested for what he said.

The investigators’ statements were not merely ambiguous promises to Dassey that cooperating would lead to a better deal or that the investigators would “stand  behind” him or “go to bat” for him, … Rather, the investigators’ collective statements throughout the interrogation clearly led Dassey to believe that he would not be punished for telling them the incriminating details they professed to already know. While at one point Wiegert did rotely say, “We can’t make any promises...” this single, isolated statement was drowned out by the host of assurances that they already knew what happened and that Dassey had nothing to worry about.

Thus, the state courts’ finding that there were no “promises of leniency” was “against the clear and convincing weight of the evidence….”

The Supreme Court has long recognized that a false promise is a powerful force in overcoming a person’s free will…. Consequently, “[a] false promise of lenience is ‘an example of forbidden [interrogation] tactics, for it would impede the suspect in making an informed choice as to whether he was better off confessing or clamming up.’”

More than merely assuring Dassey that he would not be punished if he admitted  participating in the offenses, the investigators suggested to Dassey that he would  be punished if he did not tell “the truth.”
   Especially when the investigators’ promises, assurances, and threats of negative consequences are assessed in conjunction with Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, lack of experience in dealing with the police, the absence of a parent, and other relevant personal characteristics, the free will of a reasonable person in Dassey’s position would  have been overborne. Once considered in this proper light, the conclusion that Dassey’s statement was involuntary under the totality of the circumstances is not one about which “fairminded jurists could disagree.”

That said, the court does not ascribe any ill motive to the investigators. Rather than an intentional and concerted effort to trick Dassey into confessing, what occurred here may have been the product of the investigators failing to appreciate how combining statements that they already “knew everything that happened” with assurances that Dassey was “OK” and had nothing to worry about collectively resulted in constitutionally impermissible promises.

Click here for the complete decision

  07/19/2016Success with Reid - reunited with her fatherís American Memorial Flag
One of our Investigators, Corporal Steve Purdy (a graduate of your 4-day class in Branson West, MO on Feb 3-6, 2015), recently received international media coverage for a juvenile interview he did which enabled a victim 1,700 miles away to be reunited with the American Memorial Flag that draped her Dad’s casket in 1969.
Purdy, when asked about his success in the interview room, attributes “The Reid Technique” for this and the dozens of other successes he’s had since graduating from your course. I’m going to send you a link to a local coverage of the event but it was also covered by 42 other media outlets including the UK (Daily Mail), The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and the Seattle Times (to name a few).
Thank you for your work.
Tom McLain,Chief of Police,Willard, MO

(link to coverage referred to in the testimonial)

  07/11/2016Military court decisions re interrogation issues
Military court decisions re interrogation issues
Over the years we have posted on our website numerous military court decisions that dealt with a variety of interrogation issues.  For example:

Military Court supports Reid Technique


In US v. Freeman the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction of Freeman for "one specification of false official statement and one specification of assault with a means or force likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm." In reviewing the investigator's interrogation techniques (which he had identified as The Reid Technique) which elicited an incriminating statement from Freeman, the Court found that "We find no basis to conclude that the AFOSI overbore the appellant's will in eliciting the incriminating statement. Despite the fact that the interrogation was relatively lengthy, we conclude the circumstances do not evidence coercion within the meaning of Mil. R. Evid. 304. Additionally, none of the trickery which the agents employed appears to have been calculated to produce a false confession; rather, it is generally consistent with standard police practices." 


Click here for additional cases

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