Police Continue to Use Controversial Reid Technique to Secure Confessions
If you are arrested for committing a crime, police officers or detectives will question you to attempt to get more information. Common in these scenarios is the Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation, which you’ve likely seen in movies and television. In real life, these interrogations tend to be much less dramatic, but the general principles are the same.
Recently, the Reid Technique has been the subject of controversy, as opponents claim it leads to unfair treatment for suspects and may elicit false confessions.
The technique was first developed in the 1940s and centers on three core concepts:
- Isolation: The suspect is kept alone, away from family and friends and often in a windowless room. This typically makes the suspect impatient and uncomfortable.
- Maximization: The officer states the suspect’s guilt and presents a theory of how the crime occurred. This theory may be supported by evidence or simply made up. The officer gives details, hoping the suspect will later repeat them back to police. If the suspect attempts to proclaim innocence, the officer ignores these claims and may claim the suspect is lying.
- Minimization: After showing any claims of innocence will not be listened to, the officer expresses a sense of understanding for why the suspect “did it” and ensures the suspect that everyone else will also understand. The goal of this portion of the interview is to goad suspects into confessing by convincing them the resulting consequences won’t be all that bad.
Last year, however, a major consulting firm that has worked with most law enforcement agencies across the United States announced that it would no longer use the Reid Technique. The company’s president and CEO said that recent research indicated the technique does not effectively get suspects to provide truthful information.
It is important to remember that you do not have to answer any of the questions an officer asks you. You have the right to an attorney and should absolutely exercise that right if ever placed into a situation in which police officers are questioning you. Say as little as possible until you have legal counsel by your side.