It is important to avoid making any accusations during the interview

Written By: Joseph P. Buckley
Nov 28, 2022

In a recent article by Dr. Laure Brimbal (School of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Texas State University) and Lieutenant Shawn Hill ((Santa Barbara, CA Police Department) they re-affirm some of the core principles and best practices of the Reid Technique, and detail how research demonstrates the value of the principles that we teach.

The authors point out that many studies have found that rapport building can have a very positive effect on outcomes such as subject cooperation and information disclosure.

The authors point out that “Rapport-building techniques in an information-gathering interview can include:

  • Asking open-ended questions (e.g., “tell”, “explain”, “describe”)
  • Using affirmations (i.e., positive reinforcement, such as “Thank you, that was very helpful”)
  • Listening actively (e.g., use of encouragers, such as “go on, mm-hmm, etc.”, repeating keywords, echoing, evidence of turn-taking)
  • Summarizing a subject’s account to demonstrate listening
  • Using silence and avoiding interruptions to allow for subject disclosure
  • Expressing empathy (people’s ability to understand the thoughts, feelings and perspectives of another) without condoning illegal behavior
  • Allowing a subject autonomy (i.e., providing room for the subject to talk in the conversation)
  • Showing interest in the subject as a person
  • Displaying respect and patience
  • Using evocation to draw out an individual’s feelings and motives
  • Disclosing personal information and finding similarities with the subject”

For over 70 years we have been teaching investigators to adhere to these practices:

  1. The interview should be a non-accusatory, non-confrontational information gathering conversation
  2. The investigator should be a neutral, non-judgmental, objective fact finder
  3. Follow the 80/20 rule – the subject should do 80% of the talking during the interview
  4. The investigator should ask open-ended questions to give the subject an opportunity to tell their story; explain what happened; describe what they saw or heard; etc.
  5. Let the subject make their initial statement without any interruption
  6. Use follow up questions to clarify details
  7. Always treat the subject with dignity and respect

On our YouTube channel we have several video presentations that address these topics:

Preparing for the Interview

Using Open-ended Questions Part One and Part Two

The Core Principles of the Reid Technique

Best Practices

We also have a recent Investigator Tip that outlines the guidelines to follow in conducting a proper investigative interview and when appropriate, an interrogation: Principles of Practice: How to Conduct Proper Investigative Interviews and Interrogations