Canadian Reporters Still Can't Get it Right

Written By: Reid
Mar 22, 2019

In two recent articles Canadian reporters continue to misrepresent/misunderstand the Reid Technique. Here are the two letter we wrote to the reporters attempting to clarify the issues:

Dear Ms. Jerome,

I would like to point out a number of issues that you neglected to mention in your article, Interrogation tactics, errors in justice system lead to false confessions, lawyers say.

Our firm, John E. Reid and Associates, developed and teaches the Reid Technique around the world. In your article you state the following:

The interrogation practice Drizin described [ when discussing the interrogation of Brendon Dassey in the Netflix series Making a Murderer] is called the Reid technique, Haines noted, adding that the RCMP have started using the PEACE model instead. PEACE stands for: Preparation and Planning; Engage and Explain; Account, Clarify and Challenge; Closure and Evaluation.

Kennedy explained that Canadian courts have said to stop using the Reid technique and that the PEACE model comes out of the U.K.

" think what the RCMP have moved to is a modified form of the PEACE technique,"he added.

1.It is interesting to note that in Making a Murderer Part 2 Attorney Drizin references Reid and Associates as the standard for proper interrogation procedures:

"In the Netflix series, Making a Murder Part 2, the interrogation of Brendan Dassey is discussed by Attorney Steve Drizen and Attorney Lauara Nirider during the first 15 minutes of Episode 2. (Attorneys Drizin and Nirider represent Dassey in his appeals).

The two attorneys are shown on screen giving a presentation to lawyers at Northwestern University Law School, discussing the Brendan Dassey interrogation. During their presentation they reference John E. Reid and Associates as the benchmark for proper interrogation practices and procedures. Specifically, they state that Reid and Associates teaches that using deception or false evidence "should be avoided when interrogating a youthful suspect with low social maturity or a suspect with diminished mental capacity."

They then again refer to Reid and Associates as teaching that investigators should not reveal all of the case information to the subject during the interrogation so that the investigator can use the disclosure of that information by the subject as an indication of the authenticity of his confession.

2.For the record, the Canada Supreme Court has upheld the central element of the Reid Technique in the case R. v. Oickle. In this case the Canadian Supreme Court overturned a lower court's suppression of an arson confession and expressed implicit approval of many of the interrogation techniques utilized in The Reid Technique. In Oickle, the Court of Appeals suggested that the interrogator's understanding demeanor improperly abused the suspect's trust. The Canadian Supreme Court disagreed stating, "In essence, the court [of appeals] criticizes the police for questioning the respondent in such a gentle, reassuring manner that they gained his trust. This does not render a confession inadmissible. To hold otherwise would send the perverse message to police that they should engage in adversarial, aggressive questioning to ensure they never gain the suspect's trust, lest an ensuing confession be excluded."

Furthermore, in Oickle, the Court of Appeals concluded that the police improperly offered leniency to the suspect by minimizing the seriousness of his offense. The Supreme Court again disagreed stating, "Insofar as the police simply downplayed the moral culpability of the offence, their actions were not problematic."

3.We teach the P.E.A.C.E. Method: In 2019 we will be presenting 2 courses in Canada entitled, Reid PEACE Method of Investigative Interviewing, in Niagara Falls and Calgary.

4.We are as concerned about false confessions as anyone. Over the years John E. Reid and Associates has assisted the Innocence Project (New York) on several cases as expert witnesses on proper interview and interrogation techniques, as well as the exoneration of one of their clients by obtaining a confession from the actual offender. This case was detailed in the story, "I Did It" in New York magazine ( We have also assisted other attorneys (for example, Kathleen Zellner) in wrongful conviction cases.

5.The best way to avoid false confessions is to conduct interrogations in accordance with the guidelines established by the courts, and to adhere to the following practices (core principles of the Reid Technique):

Do not make any promises of leniency

Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences

Do not conduct interrogations for an excessively lengthy period of time

Do not deny the subject any of their rights

Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs

Withhold information about the details of the crime from the subject so that if the subject confesses the disclosure of that information can be used to confirm the authenticity of the statement

Exercise special cautions when questioning juveniles or individuals with mental or psychological impairments

Always treat the subject with dignity and respect

The confession is not the end of the investigation � investigate the confession details in an effort to establish the authenticity of the subject�s statement

In the future, when you are doing a story referencing the Reid Technique, you should contact us for our comments on the issues you are discussing so as to present a balanced story.

Finally, please review the details in the document that we have prepared that is entitled, Clarifying Misrepresentations About Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques.

Joseph P. Buckley
John E. Reid and Associates

Dear Mr. Rose,

I just read your article, How Canadian Police Try To Get You to Confess to a Crime. I would like to point a few salient facts and would ask that you forward this email and attachments to Sgt. Carr.

Here are some statements in your article and our response:

1."widely used Reid technique of interrogation, which is prone to deception, unconstitutional coercion, and, in many cases, false confessions'

There is absolutely nothing coercive about the Reid technique. Here are our core principles:
  • Always conduct interviews and interrogations in accordance with the guidelines established by the courts
  • Do not make any promises of leniency
  • Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences
  • Do not deny the subject any of their rights
  • Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs
  • Always treat the subject with dignity and respect
False confessions are not caused by the Reid technique, but by investigators engaging in behaviors outside of the parameters established by the courts such as threatening inevitable consequences; making a promise of leniency in return for the confession; denying a subject their rights; conducting an excessively long interrogation; denying the suspect an opportunity to satisfy their physical needs, etc.

In the United States our Supreme Court has allowed investigators to verbally misrepresent evidence to the subject. However, we urge extreme caution in doing so. From our training materials:

1. Introducing fictitious evidence during an interrogation presents a risk that the guilty suspect may detect the investigator's bluff, resulting in a significant loss of credibility and sincerity. For this reason, we recommend that this tactic be used as a last resort effort.

2. This tactic should not be used for the suspect who acknowledges that he may have committed the crime even though he has no specific recollections of doing so. Under this circumstance, the introduction of such evidence may lead to claims that the investigator was attempting to convince the suspect that he, in fact, did commit the crime.

3. This technique should be avoided when interrogating a youthful suspect with low social maturity or a suspect with diminished mental capacity. These suspects may not have the fortitude or confidence to challenge such evidence and, depending on the nature of the crime, may become confused as to their own possible involvement if the police tell them evidence clearly indicates they committed the crime.

2."the RCMP has implemented a more conversational style based on the UK's PEACE (Preparation and Planning, Engage and Explain, Account, Closure and Evaluate) model

We teach the P.E.A.C.E. Method - Click here for a flyer describing the content of our course. We have two courses scheduled in Canada this year: April 16-17, 2019 in Niagara Falls, Ontario and October 8-9, 2019 in Calgary.

3. Sure, Darren. What is the goal of an interrogation?

To learn the truth.

It's not about incriminating someone?
That's the problem with the old Reid model. It�s very guilt presumptive.

Contrary to Sgt. Carr's description, the Reid Technique always begins with a non-accusatory investigative interview. From our training materials:

The Reid Technique is oftentimes just thought of and is frequently referred to as simply an interrogation process - it is much more than that. The Reid Technique is a structured interview and interrogation process that involves three primary stages: Fact Analysis, the Investigative Interview and, when appropriate, the Interrogation.

Fact Analysis

Factual analysis consists of reviewing the case facts and evidence in an effort to identify the potential scope of suspects, the probability of the offender's characteristics, and what their possible motive may have been.

As part of the investigator's review and analysis of the case facts and evidence, they should identify what specific details about the crime they can use to corroborate any confession that is made in the case. There are two types of corroborating evidence - dependent, which refers to details about the case that the police know but choose to "hold back" - to conceal from the media and the suspects that they question so they can be used to assess the credibility of a subject's confession. These details may include how the victim was killed; how and where entry was made into the building; where the accelerant was poured, etc.

The second type of corroborating evidence is referred to as independent - this refers to details of the crime that only the offender knows - details that the police do not have; such as where the murder weapon is located; how and where the subject disposed of their bloody clothes; the location of the stolen property; etc.

In the process of analyzing the case facts and evidence the investigator should develop a description of the of the crime scene; the way in which the crime appears to have been committed and the known details of its commission, i.e., implement used, place of entry or exit, any special knowledge required (such as a safe combination); and, the presence of any incriminating factors against a particular subject; etc.

Once the investigator has reviewed and analyzed the case facts and evidence, they should prepare an interview strategy, including a list of issues that should be discussed with each subject, and a list of possible questions that need to be asked of each subject, including the victim, any witnesses and any suspects.

The Investigative Interview

At the outset of the interview the investigator must be sure to comply with all legal requirements, such as the appropriate advisement of rights. It is imperative that throughout the interview, the investigator maintains an objective, neutral, fact-finding demeanor.

The investigative questions will deal with the issue that is under investigation. One of the first things the investigator should do is ask the subject an open-ended question that invites the subject to tell their story. If it is a victim, what happened? If it is a witness, what did they see or hear? If it is a suspect, what were their activities on the day in question? After the subject relates their initial story or version of events the investigator will then ask a series of questions to develop additional details and to clarify the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the incident under investigation.

During this segment of the interview the investigator would explore for any precipitators that may have provoked the incident, or for any procedural or policy violations that may have contributed to the situation. The investigator should attempt to resolve any inconsistencies or contradictions that may have surfaced from the interviews of other subjects or from the investigative information. If the subject offers an alibi for the time period in question, every effort should be made to substantiate the alibi.

In our book, Criminal Interrogation and Confessions, 5th edition 2013, we devote several chapters to the topic of Investigative Questions.

The third type of question that we utilize in the interview is called a behavior-provoking question (BPQ). BPQs are questions which most truthful individuals answer one way, while deceptive individuals oftentimes answer in a completely different manner. The investigator will present these questions as casual inquiries.

At the conclusion of this non-accusatory interview the investigator will evaluate the investigative and behavioral information developed during the interview, as well as the information, facts and evidence developed during the investigation up to this point, and then make one of several possible decisions: the investigator may eliminate the subject from further investigation; the investigator may determine that the investigation of the subject should continue; or the investigator may decide to initiate the interrogation of the subject. Everyone in an investigation may be interviewed, but very few are interrogated.

The purpose of an interrogation is to learn the truth. In most instances this consists of the guilty suspect telling the investigator what he did regarding the commission of the crime under investigation. The obvious reason for this outcome is that interrogation should only occur when the investigative information indicates the suspect's probable involvement in the commission of the crime.

However, there can be several other successful outcomes:

the suspect may reveal the fact that he did not commit the crime but that he knows (and has been concealing) who did

the suspect may reveal that while he did not commit the crime he was lying about some important element of the investigation (such as his alibi � not wanting to acknowledge where he really was at the time of the crime), or

the investigator determines the suspect to be innocent

We recommend that investigators should never use the interrogation process as the initial means by which to assess a subject's credibility - in other words, we recommend that after the initial non-accusatory investigative interview and the collection of evidence only those subjects should be interrogated whom the investigative information suggests are most probably involved in the commission of the crime.

For additional information se our document entitled, Clarifying Misrepresentations About Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques.

In the future when you write an article that discusses the Reid Technique you should be sure to talk to us so you get a full understanding of the issues.

Joseph P. Buckley
John E. Reid and Associates

800-255-5747 ext 19