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Interrogation and Interview as used by law enforcement

by Louis
Published: Last Updated on

Crime is an enduring social problem and relies on law enforcement officials to tamper crime and to protect the members of the community. A significant factor in the reduction of crime and determining the guilt of a suspect is an interrogation. Interviewing and interrogation run hand in hand and are both simple ways of obtaining information and both having the same purpose and results. Police interrogations are perceived as more hostile, antagonistic, and at some point, frightening. The fundamental goal of questioning is to obtain and secure information, and this is achieved by an interrogator asking questions.

Interrogator engages the accused or suspects on a discussion of a topic of interest, and he relies on the verbal responses as well as the nonverbal behavior clues. An interview can generally be determined as successful when the information needed is acquired. While interrogation is deemed successful when the suspect confesses to the crime, leaks information about another perpetrator, or provides more details about the crime itself.

An interview is a non-accusatory dialogue used to develop information that is relevant to a case. While an interrogation is an accusatory monologue dominated by the interrogator, it is used to get the truth from an individual suspect for committing a crime, people involved in interviews have a set time limit while interrogations can never be predicted. Instead, they are based on an unfastened interview that will ultimately lead to the best results.

Interrogations rely heavily on persuasive tactics to get the suspect to confess, and while interrogating a suspect that seems guilty. The interrogators try to persuade the suspects that confessing is the best thing to do. They achieve this by altering the suspect’s perception of the situation and its consequences. Like persuasion, interrogation also involves alteration of attitudes. Persuasion is, at times, challenging because the suspect has a solid belief in maintaining that they are innocent, and this belief may be troublesome to change. The interrogator must, therefore, have some basic knowledge of human personality and psychology to persuade effectively.

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At times, interrogations rely on the persuasive tactics of fear arousing appeal and an attempt to reassure the suspect that confessing is the best possible solution. Persuasions focus a difference in interrogations than they are in interviews. In an interview, the interviewer is a target of belief with the interviewee attempting to persuade the interviewer that they are better qualified, reliable and desirable but in an interrogation, the interviewee is the target of inducement.

There are different interrogation tactics used by law enforcement. However depending on the matter and the suspect, some tactics may be more applicable, and others may not be used at all. They include:


This occurs at the beginning of the interrogation, and it is crucial at this because the interrogator must take control and direct the confrontation. A confrontation occurs when an investigator suggests that they know the suspect has committed the crime. They say that “I know you did it, you know you did it, just admit it and we can move on.” If the suspect’s justification or reaction does not eventuate a confession or provide an indication of guilt, then the investigator proceeds to the next approach.


It is defined as presenting the suspect with a good excuse. The investigator shows the suspect with reasons to confess. By offering possible codification, projections of blame, or even minimization.

The first way is offering rationalization where the interrogator makes a crime to look like it is socially acceptable and even reasonable given the circumstances. For example, in a Robbery, the interrogator can suggest that the economic times are complicated, and life is expensive.

Under the Projections of blame, The interrogator can relocate or transfer some of the responsibility to someone or something else entirely and can construct a sentence suggesting that something else may have caused them to act how they did. For example, A woman suspected of vandalizing a boyfriend’s car, the interrogator can put it in a way to blame the boyfriend of treating her poorly or mischievously.

Use of minimization, the investigator achieves this by diminishing the sovereignty or the shocking nature of the crime for example in the case of vandalism, the interrogator can minimize the woman’s shame and guilt by praising her for not taking the offense further and committing worse criminal activities. This is the most effective way for eliciting information because it utilizes moral and ethical rectification for the crimes with the hope that the suspects will accept them and ultimately say the truth.


Resistance is a refusal to comply and is viewed as a strategy because the interrogator is bound to experience resistance and must know how to overcome it. There are specific ways of dealing with resistance, including denial, objection, and withdrawal. There are several ways to overcome resistance, and this is where interrogator uses domination and does not allow the suspect to talk. They will talk over and speak louder than the suspects.

In other instances, interrogators attempt to draw an objection from the suspects and use it to form a new theme. A complaint is a reason of guilt is incorrect for example if a suspect is accused of armed robbery and he denies or objects to owning a gun then the facts of holding a gun is pulled out to form a new theme.

The third type of resistance is withdrawal, and one strategy to overcome this is to get the suspect to be more engaged. The interrogator should use tag lines and question, for example, they may ask, “You care about this, don’t you?” or the interrogator can move closer to the suspect and focus on maintaining eye contact.


It is best to use this tactic when the suspect appears to be on the verge of confessing. The key here is to present the suspect with a choice of two possible explanations for why the crime was committed. In this case, only one option is more attractive than the other, for example, in a matter of theft you would ask did you take the money because you needed it for bills or drugs. In argumentation, this is referred to as a false dilemma because one of the responses can account for the reasoning behind the crime. It is a very effective strategy, and it makes the suspect believe that the interrogator knows something, and if the suspect accepts any of this, they will be admitting to their guilt. In some cases, they may offer a third possibility, which is also an admittance of guilt.


It is the final approach that is used when the suspect makes the first verbal signs of guilt. The interrogator begins to withdraw a bit from the intensity and begins to modify their communication, at this point the interrogation will feel more like an interview, and the suspect will be asked non-leading and more open-ended questions, for example, the suspect will be asked why he/she committed the crime and will be allowed to tell the versions of events, this will enable them to give details and a solid case of the crime can be developed.

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