Richard Leo's Boilerplate Statement Regarding Police Interrogation Practices

Written By: Joseph P. Buckley
Jun 26, 2024

The following is the "boilerplate" position taken from various statements, publications and testimony of Richard Leo regarding police interrogation practices.

The Social Psychology of Police Interrogation

Police interrogation is a cumulative, structured, and time-sequenced process in which an arsenal of psychological techniques (“are employed”) in order to overcome a suspect’s denials and elicit incriminating statements, admissions, and/or confessions. This is the sole purpose of custodial interrogation (as opposed to interviews).

To achieve this purpose, interrogators use techniques that seek to influence, persuade, manipulate, and deceive suspects into believing that their situation is hopeless and that their best interest lies in confessing. Sometimes, however, interrogators cross the line and employ techniques and methods of interrogation that are coercive and increase the likelihood of eliciting false confessions or statements.

Dating back to the early 1940s, psychological interrogation methods in the United States have been structured to persuade a rational guilty person who knows he is guilty to rethink his initial decision to deny culpability and choose instead to confess. Police interrogators know that it is not in any suspect’s rational self-interest to confess. They expect to encounter resistance and denials to their allegations, and they know that they must apply a certain amount of interpersonal pressure and persuasion to convince a reluctant suspect to confess.

As a result, interrogators have, over the years, developed a set of subtle and sophisticated interrogation techniques whose purpose is to alter a guilty suspect’s perceptions so that he will see the act of confessing as being in his self-interest.

These interrogation techniques were developed for the purpose of inducing guilty
individuals to confess to their crimes, and police are admonished in their training to use them only on suspects believed to be guilty. When these same techniques are used on innocent suspects, they carry the risk that they will elicit false statements, admissions and/or confessions.

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Richard Leo Boilerplate Statement Regarding Police Interrogation Practices (136.705 KB)
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