Chapter 3 The Psychology of Police Investigations pg. 5672
• In North America, a confession usually has to be backed up by some other form of
• Key goals are to gain information from the suspect and/or obtain a confession
• Interrogations are largely intimidating due to the fact that police interrogators are
part of a system that gives them certain powers over the suspect.
• Police tactics in mid 20 century: whipping was used
• 1980s: New York City police officers jolted a suspect with a stun gun to extract a
• These tactics have decreased today, now its more of a psychological coercion:
lying about evidence, promising lenient treatment, implying threats to loved ones.
• Leading authorities in the field of interrogation training openly state that, b/c
offenders are typically reluctant to confess, the must be tricked into doing so.
Box 3.1 “The Mr. Big Technique”
• Unlike Reid Model, this technique is noncustodial procedure (happens outside of
the interrogation room).
• Involves undercover police officers who pose as members of a criminal
organization & attempt to lure suspect into the gang. Suspect is made to commit
some minor crimes & then “interviewed” for a higherlevel job within the gang ▯
b4 he can make a deal with the boss, “Mr. Big”, he has to commit to a serious
crime (the one under investigation)
• Not as common as Reid Model but prior to 2004, Mr. Big had been used 350
times in Canada.
• Very effective ▯ 75% success rate, 95% conviction rate .
• Ex: Mayerthorpe RCMP murders in 2005▯Rosko shot 4 police officers. Mr big
technique was used to show how 2 of roszkos acquaintances were involved in the
killing. Sting involved 50 undercover officers & led to confessions from the 2
friends that they gave him a shotgun.
• Controversy: Does this technique elicit entrapment, where a person is induced to
commit an illegal act they otherwise would not commit? Smith (2009) says no,
b/c its designed to elicit a confession regarding an event that occurred before the
operation started & not for criminal activity during the operation, which falls out
of the Canadian definition of entrapment.
• Technique approved by Canadian courts
• Caution should always be taken since this might lead to false confessions.
The Reid Model
• Police in England & Wales are trained to use far less coercive interrogation
techniques than in North America ▯ England begun to see problems (false
• Reid model = most common training in North America, based on a book by Inbau
et al (2004) called Criminal Interrogation and Confessions. • Recall steps discussed in class
• Plainly decorate the room to avoid distractions, have evidence folder in hand,
make sure the suspect is alone in interrogation suite.
• Based on the idea that suspects do not confess to crimes they have committed b/c
they fear the consequences, & their fear of consequences is not sufficiently
outweighed by their internal feelings of anxiety associated with remaining
deceptive. Goal of Reid model is to reverse this by making the consequences
more desirable than the internal anxiety from deception.
• This can be done by using maximization & minimization (aka friendly &
unfriendly, Mutt & Jeff).
• Minimization techniques: “soft sell tactics used by police interrogators that are
designed to lull the suspect into a false sense of security”
• Maximization techniques: “scare tactics that interrogators often use to intimidate
a suspect believed to be guilty”
The Use of the Reid Model in Actual Interrogations
• Kassin et al. (2007) conducted survey of 631 police investigators about their
interrogation practices ▯ officers rated on a 5point scale ranging from never to
always, how often they used different types of interrogation techniques.
• Results: Many of the technique are used in actual interrogations, although
frequency of use varied across techniques.
• Most commonly used = isolating suspects & trying to establish rapport.
• 2 most common = confronting suspect with their guilt & appealing to their self
• 3 most common= providing justifications for crime & pretending to have
• Least common = threatening suspect & physical intimidation.
• Chance that these answers are biased since the police are selfreporting.
• Leo (1996) & King (2009) study ▯ obtained 44 videotaped interrogations & coded
various techniques interrogators used
• Results: Canadian interrogators do not strictly adhere to the components of Reid
model. Very few coercive strategies observed. However, more confessions were
given when interrogations contained a greater proportion of Reid techniques▯
King states that this does not prove the effectiveness of Reid model.
Potential Problems with the Reid Model
• 3 problems: detecting deception, forming biases, coercive interrogation
1) Detecting Deception
• Actual interrogation of a suspect occurs only after an initial interview has allowed
interrogator to believe the suspect to be guilty ▯ requires accurate deception
• Very little research that anyone can detect deception with accuracy (trained or
untrained people). • Some recent training programs have been shown to increase lie detection
• Miranda rights (in U.S) & Charter of Rights (in Canada) are used to protect the
suspect during interrogation phase of Reid Model but research shows that these
rights may not provide protection at all.
• Problem: individuals don’t understand their rights, esp. young people & those
with impaired intellectual capacity, BUT healthy adults & even police officers
also show problems with comprehension.
• Study by Eastwood & Snook (2010) ▯56 undergraduate students, ½ were in
police recruitment program. Each person was presented with the 2 legal cautions
= the right to silence & the right to legal counsel, first in verbal format & then in
written, one element at a time. Participants recorded their understanding of the
caution & rated how confident they were with their answer.
• Results ▯In general, participants had difficulty understanding each of the
cautions, particularly certain elements, but presenting the cautions in written
format, one element at a time, allowed for a greater degree of comprehension.
REFER TO TABLE 3.2.
self reported confidence was not a good predictor of a participants
comprehension & demographic such as group status (student vs police), were not
related to comprehension.
• Conclusion ▯“Canadian’s facing an investigative interview situation w