Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good Cop, No More Bad Cop


by blogger dab

What if harsh interrogations were not necessary and even less effective to bringing out the truth from potential suspects? Scaring someone into confessing lies can waste time in criminal investigations. Sure there are ways to guess whether someone is telling lies, body signals, twitches, etc. There are even polygraph tests, but they only measure physiological changes indirectly affected by lying. These current methods just aren't enough.

Forensic Scientists have come up with a new method which treats interrogations more like a conversation in a bar instead of a confrontation. More can be told about listening to what people are saying instead of how they are saying it.

First, the person recalls a vivid memory, like the first day at college, so researchers have a baseline reading for how the person communicates. The person then freely recounts the event being investigated, recalling all that happened. After several pointed questions (“Would a police officer say a crime was committed?” for example), the interviewee describes the event in question again, adding sounds, smells and other details. Several more stages follow, including one in which the person is asked to recall what happened in reverse...People telling the truth tend to add 20 to 30 percent more external detail than do those who are lying. “This is how memory works, by association,” Dr. Hiscock-Anisman said. “If you’re telling the truth, this mental reinstatement of contexts triggers more and more external details.”

This new method isn't perfect. There are limitations to what kind of information can be asked. It is only effective for asking about what happened during a specific time, not for individual facts like, "Did you see him wearing a hat?" Expert and pathological liars are also unable to be tested.
All in all, suspects and officers can breathe a sigh of relief now that harsh treatment and fear no longer have to be used in questioning.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that this new approach to police questioning is a more effective way of determining the truthfulness of a suspect's alibi and not convicting someone simply based on their exhibited behaviors such as eye blinking and pause in speech. I believe that the more that this technique is used, the more police and other law enforcement officials can do their job effectively without all of the anxiety otherwise involved.

- SRB

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