The Skillful Art of Interrogation

As with many things these days, the word “interrogation” has been replaced with “interview”.  I like to call it what it is, an interrogation.  Interrogative procedures are used to obtain a confession, admission of guilt, or illicit helpful information from a suspect in regard to an investigation.

In my Emily Stone Series, she rarely uses interrogation techniques.  However, she does use her skills in observation, criminal profiling, and crime scene investigation. 

I have met several police officers throughout my writing career and research and it’s amazing to observe how they question suspects as well as witnesses.  Each person has a way of relating to different people to make them feel comfortable or in the “hot” seat.  Let’s face it; it’s intimidating to be at a police department.  Being around police officers is like any other task for me, but I notice that other people get fidgety and look guilty even when they’re not. 

The main purpose of the police interrogation:

 1.                  Establish the innocence of a suspect(s) by clearing up facts that seem to point to guilt.

2.                  Obtain from the suspect(s) (from friends and family) the names of accomplices, facts surrounding the crime, follow up leads and alibi(s), location of physical evidence, or stolen goods.

3.                  Obtain from the suspect(s) an admission or confession.

It’s interesting that many people feel compelled to confess to their crime.  Especially when they are confronted with the accusation and the facts. 

The psychological works of Milton W. Horowitz helps to explain this phenomenon with five social-psychological conditions as to why people confess.

1.                  Accusation

The accusation may be explicit and made directly at the start of the interrogation.  It’s the attitude and demeanor from the investigator that the suspect feels cornered and there’s no other way out.

2.                  Evidence available

It’s the realization of the suspect that there is evidence available against them.  When hard evidence is produced, they have been “caught with the goods” and there’s no other way out.

3.                  Forces – friendly & hostile

When a suspect is dealing with friendly or hostile factors it causes a psychological uneasiness, which may be conducive to a confession.  The suspect must believe that he/she is alone, cut off, and feel that confessing is the only way out.

4.                  Guilty feelings

Many criminals don’t have guilty feelings (especially psychopaths), but some have the need to get a burden off their chest.

5.                  Confession – a way out 

Confessing is a multi-faced action.  People being interrogated are often unaware of their vulnerability and weakness until an authority accuses them.  In combination with evidence, their own guilt, mindful loneliness, and the need for relief of their burden.  Many people will confess as a way out.

* * *

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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
This entry was posted in Criminology, Police and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Skillful Art of Interrogation

  1. Awesome post, and very beneficial to the M/T/S writer. Thank you for sharing this with us 🙂


  2. Thank you Carolyn! 🙂


  3. Paul Bishop says:

    Hey! Paul Bishop here, one of the interrogators from Take The Money And Run. I’ve heard the difference between interview and interrogation explained this way: An interview is when you are trying to get information from somebody who wants to give it to you. An interrogation is when you are trying to get information from somebody doesn’t want to give it to you . . .


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