Egregious Errors by TIME Reporter Regarding the Reid Technique

Written By: Joseph P. Buckley
May 08, 2023

Dear Ms. Nayeri,

In your recent article, “How Police Interrogation Techniques Fail People with Autism” you have completely misrepresented the Reid Technique. Let me first quote what you said in the article:

"But the police interrogated him for hours without a lawyer, using a brutal technique that left him powerless. This common interrogation method, known as the Reid Technique and what we casually call “the third degree,” allows police great leeway for intimidation and deception because it was originally intended to be used against hardened criminals.

The Reid Technique is ubiquitous in police interview rooms. It begins with the interrogator’s unproven conclusion that the subject is guilty, a dangerous starting point.

You referenced the Reid technique as “a brutal technique” and “the third degree”. The third degree is a term used to reference physical abuse of the subject, such as shoving the suspect’s head into a toilet, twisting their arms, or striking them in places that would not leave an obvious mark, interrogating the subject nonstop for days, with sleep deprivation, bright lights, verbal abuse, and threats to the suspect and suspect’s family all commonplace. The Reid Technique is 100% the opposite, as detailed in our Core Principles:

  • Always treat the subject with dignity and respect
  • Always conduct interviews and interrogations in accordance with the guidelines established by the courts
  • Do not make any promises of leniency or threats of harm or inevitable consequences
  • Do not conduct interrogations for an excessively long period of time
  • Do not deny the subject any of their rights
  • Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs
  • Exercise special cautions when questioning socially immature juveniles or individuals with mental or psychological impairments

And, Best Practices:

  • Conduct an interview before an interrogation
  • Conduct an interrogation only when there is a reasonable belief that the suspect is guilty or withholding relevant information
  • Consider a suspect's behavior in conjunction with case facts and evidence
  • Attempt to verify the suspect's alibi before conducting an interrogation
  • There should be no barrier between the investigator and the suspect within the interrogation room
  • A single investigator should be the lead communicator
  • Do not threaten the suspect's well-being or make threats of inevitable consequences.
  • Do not offer the suspect promises of leniency
  • Do not deny the suspect his legal rights
  • When interrogating a non-custodial suspect, do not deprive the suspect from his freedom to leave the room
  • Do not conduct excessively long interrogations
  • Exercise extreme caution when interrogating juveniles, suspects with a lower intelligence or suspects with mental impairments
  • When using interrogation tactics involving deception the investigator should not manufacture evidence against the suspect
  • When a suspect claims to have little or no memory for the time period when the crime was committed the investigator should not lie to the suspect concerning incriminating evidence
  • Do not reveal to the suspect all information known about the crime
  • Attempt to elicit information from the suspect about the crime that was unknown to the investigator
  • The confession is not the end of the investigation

As noted above in your article you indicated that the Reid Technique "begins with the interrogator’s unproven conclusion that the subject is guilty.”

The Reid Technique always begins with a non-accusatory, non-confrontational investigative interview in which the investigator is a neutral, objective non-judgmental fact finder. The focus of the interview is to listen to the subject’s statement, explanation, and/or activities during the time period in question - developing the who, what, when, where, why, and how relevant to the issue under investigation.

I would strongly recommend that you review the following video presentations on our YouTube channel, The Reid Technique Tips, to get a better understanding of what we teach investigators about conducting interviews and interrogations:

Description of the Reid Technique
The Core Principles of the Reid Technique
Best Practices
Research Confirming the Reid Technique Process
Reid As The Benchmark
How The Courts View The Reid Technique
Using Open-ended Questions Parts One and Two
Clarifying Misrepresentations About Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques
What Questions Should To Ask To Determine the Voluntariness and Validity of a Subject’s Confession
False Confessions Parts One and Two

You referenced the Innocence Project in your article regarding their false confessions statistics…you might be interested to note that 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.

Joseph P. Buckley


John E. Reid and Associates