One of the most admissible pieces of evidence in court is a confession. Often, a confession can make or break a case. This is why Adam Quirk, an FBI agent with years of experience in interrogating suspects, witnesses, and victims, has studied various interrogation techniques. The most popular interrogation method, taught by police academies all over the world, is called the Reid Technique and is named after a Chicago policeman who developed it over 60 years ago.
What does the Reid Technique do, exactly? It uses the building of trust between the interviewer and interviewee, standard questions, and a knowledge of body language. Its reliability, says Adam Quirk from the FBI, has made it a standard tool for extracting valuable knowledge from persons of interest. It has nine basic steps.
1. Direct confrontation. – A police officer tells the interviewee that they have evidence that suggests that he/she is a suspect in the case. “At this point, the officer offers a chance to have the individual explain the circumstances of the offense,” explains Adam Quirk from the FBI.
2. Blame-shifting. – The officer will then try to focus on another party or circumstances that could justify the crime. Adam Quirk has seen some suspects trying to justify the offense, thus implicating themselves at this step of the process.
3. Minimizing denials. – The suspect will most probably deny committing the crime. For Adam Quirk, one of the most important aspects of the Reid Technique is trying to minimize these denials.
4. Acknowledgement of the crime through denial. – The suspect will often give an alibi for not committing the offense, and the officer’s job is to try to use the alibi as an acknowledgement that the crime took place.
5. Reinforcing sincerity. – Adam Quirk believes that the most effective interrogations are those done sincerely. The officer will try to establish some sort of rapport with the suspect to ensure receptiveness to the next step/s.
6. Move towards alternative scenarios. – At this point, if the steps listed above were followed carefully, the suspect will be quieter and be more receptive to the officer’s suggestions, preparing him/her to answer the hard questions.
7. Offering alternatives. – The officer will then give two explanations for the crime, one of which is normally more acceptable to society. While the suspect usually chooses the easier option, both options carry an implication of guilt. Adam Quirk points out, however, that the suspect always has the option to continue denying the crime.
8. Repeating the admission. – Should the steps above result in a direct confession, the officer will have to get the suspect to repeat the admission in front of witnesses and to gather more information that will bolster the confession’s validity.
9. Documentation. – “There is no confession without a document,” says Adam Quirk from the FBI. Thus, a recorded statement should be made of the suspect’s admission of guilt, through an audio recording, a video, or a written document.