ETHICAL PRACTICES IN INVESTIGATIVE INTERVIEWING/THE STATEMENT PROFILER
Profile of the Successful Interviewer
Outlines the 6 basic characteristics: integrity, intuitiveness, flexibility, resourcefulness, skill diversity, and preparation. The investigative interviewer needs to balance compassion and rapport with control, personal boundaries, and healthy skepticism.
Systematic Investigative Method
Strategic thinking is rooted in a method. The P.E.A.C.E. model provides a comprehensive approach to the interview with Planning & Preparation, Engage & Explain, Account, Closure and Evaluation. With P.E.A.C.E. the interviewer can guide the subject towards the objective. Without a strategy the interviewer can lose both control and a desired outcome.
The OPTICS Principle
Eliciting openness begins with accelerated familiarity, often with a complete stranger. There are seven factors which effect interviewer’s ability to establish intimate knowledge of the subject’s stress and internal conflict – Observation skills, Perceived risk, Time, Interaction, Context, and Sophistication.
Stereotyping behaviour or character traits, typical of many investigative training programs, predisposes the interviewer to narrow their focus, setting up biases that act like blindfolds. Assessing interviewees begins with confronting counterproductive assumptions and dispelling myths that impair flexible approaches to the uniqueness of individuals and contexts. Intense observation will reveal micro-behavioural indicators of internal conflict and linguistic indicators of validity and/or deception despite the subject’s efforts to mask stress and edit information. Robustness of non-verbal communication and open dialogue will depend on the degree of risk for the interviewee and the importance of outcomes for both parties. Integrity, preparation and flexibility will play key roles in building a unique path toward disclosure. You may not be able to compel others to talk but you can be compelling interviewer.
Controlling the Process
During the live interview, non-verbal communication influences the direction and outcome of the process, while post- analysis of uncontaminated statements ascertain credibility. The investigator’s success depends not only on the ability to respond to the content of dialogue, but to the linguistic and non-verbal processes as well. Responding on many levels generates unconscious bonding, maintains control, and accelerates the subject toward full disclosure. Resistance is viewed as a challenge to our flexibility and ingenuity.
Cooperative interviewing is the essential first step in the investigative process. This information-gathering phase can be significantly improved with proper cognitive techniques that increase the amount of detail and accuracy of recall from witnesses, victims, informants and suspects. Good methodolgies reduce confusion and stress for both the interviewer and interviewee.During the cooperative phase the interviewer uses ambiguous and unadulterated language, rapport skills that encourage openness, and time to calibrate the subject’s idiosyncrasies. An effective cooperative approach diminishes the potential for adversarial conflict between the interviewer and subject and encourages the subject toward resolution of stressful internal conflicts.
Evaluating the Subject
Establishing the credibility of the subject will determine whether the process needs to be extended with a detailed enquiry, persuasive interviewing, collateral checks or further interviews. Evaluation of verbal and non-verbal behaviour has evolved into an articulate conscious set of processes.
THE STATEMENT PROFILER
During acquisition, retention and retrieval there are many factors that delete and distort information beyond the interviewee’s motives and the effects of interviewer’s inquiries. We will explore the twelve elements of contamination, how to maximize retrieval and minimize contaminants.
The Live Interview
A live interview is a highly orchestrated combination of verbal and non-verbal skills, where manipulation by both parties often obscures the purpose of obtaining an undiluted statement. We will outline how to reduce the effects of the interviewer/subject relationship on the statement and how to be alert to red flags of deceptive verbal statements.
Written version of events have many advantages over verbal interviews. They can save the interviewer time with witnesses, suspects, victims, claimants, and employees. The subject must commit to what they are saying. There is less contamination by the interviewer. The statement can better be evaluated for linguistic indicators of validity and deception. You will learn which contexts call for the written version, how to initiate the enquiry, and how to design questionnaires.
Evaluating the Statement
Statements can be evaluated for omissions, consistency, logic, and linguistic indicators of truthfulness and of deception. Interviewees focus on the content of their stories, editing disclosure, but are unaware of their unconscious choices in how they describe events. Their choice of words, how they construct sentences, where they begin and end, the literalness of the statement, (as opposed to intended meaning), provide a wealth of information to the interviewer trained in the art/science of statement analysis.
Most often it is better for the investigator to follow up the subject’s “pure version” with un-contaminating questions about details and critical issue questions before confronting with evidence. These questions test for consistency and clarity. You will learn precise models of closed questions that test credibility and link interviewees to events.