False confessions can be caused by a number of interview and interrogation mishaps, including the presentation of false evidence, or the age or mental capacity of the suspect, among other things. Police can contaminate confessions by intentionally or accidentally sharing crime scene information with the suspect during interviews and interrogations.
Certain types of suspect personalities are given to making false confessions as well. In the May-June 2016 issue of LP Magazine, David Zulawski, CFI, CFE, and Shane Sturman, CFI, CPP, address the implications of recording interviews for the purpose of monitoring the investigator in their column “To Record or Not to Record.”
Recorded interviews with suspects can be a beneficial tool for interview and interrogation training classes. But a major strategy behind the use of recordings is that it is a means to monitor the investigator themselves. From the article:
“The recording provides an accurate reflection of what happened, when it happened, and how things were said that could never be replicated by an in-person evaluator. Review of the recording can provide significantly more relevant critiques to the new interviewer since he can actually see his behavior and hear his own words and the effect that they are having on the subject. There’s also an opportunity to evaluate behavioral clues that may have been present or verbal statements that could have led the interview in an entirely different direction. We find in our after-action evaluations of WZ interviewers that we can be particularly successful in identifying difficulties or strengths in the conversation.”
The recent controversies over police force body cams and law enforcement accountability are far from over. Check out “To Record or Not to Record” to read the full column. You can also visit the Table of Contents for the May-June 2016 issue or register for a free subscription to the magazine.