Reid response to recent article

Written By: Joseph P. Buckley
Jun 28, 2021

Dear Emma Ockerman,

In your recently published article, "How Cops Lie to Kids in Interrogations - and Get Away With It" you make the following statement about the Reid Technique:

The issue, in part, is cops’ use of confrontational interrogation methods, including the Reid technique, which was introduced more than 70 years ago and entails law enforcement confirming their existing belief of guilt by squeezing a confession out of someone.

“It permits deception, explicitly, and it really is seeking to get a confession out of a suspect that law enforcement already believes committed the crime,” said Rebecca Brown, policy director for the Innocence Project.

John E. Reid and Associates, the company that developed the Reid technique and still trains police to use it today, has said that when false confessions arise, it’s because the guidelines for their technique aren’t being followed. Officers are not supposed to promise leniency and are urged to use “extreme care” when approaching children in particular.

We actually teach the following about misrepresenting evidence during an interrogation:
From our book Criminal Interrogations and Confessions:

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.

In fact the courts admonish investigators when they do not follow our guidelines:

In People v. Elias (2015 WL 3561620) the Appeals court pointed out several prescribed Reid procedures that were not followed by the investigator, resulting in a confession that was found to be involuntary:

  1. A non-accusatory interview was not conducted before initiating an interrogation
  2. The investigator misrepresented the case evidence when questioning a 13 year old
  3. There was no corroboration of the incriminating statement
  4. There was contamination - disclosing details of the crime

Finally you should visit our YouTube channel, The Reid Technique Tips, to get a better understanding of our Core Principles as well as Best Practices.

P.S. We have worked with the Innocence Project (New York) on several cases as expert witnesses on proper interview and interrogation procedures. Here is an article that details one such case - “I Did It"