5 strategies for selecting interrogation themes

Identifying the most effective arguments to present to a suspect during an interrogation will help you elicit the truth

A frequent question I’m asked by cops during my interviewing and interrogation training programs is, “What if I’m using the wrong interrogation theme?” This is often followed by, “How do I change themes? And if I’m using the wrong theme, won’t the suspect know that I’m not sure that he committed the crime?” 

In the course of an interrogation, the suspect’s responses will help you choose your themes. Strategies for interrogation theme selection include the case facts and motive, the suspect’s statements during the interview, common sense, prior similar case experiences and training and education.

Example case: assaulting Isabella
The following scenario is based on an actual case. Jacob, age 26, babysat his 25-year-old girlfriend Sophia’s 4-year-old daughter, Isabella. At the last minute, Sophia asked Jacob if he could watch Isabella that evening because her mother just called to say she couldn’t babysit. He agreed and arrived moments later at 1700 hours, and Sophia immediately left for work. She returned at about 2300 hours from waitressing, and Isabella was sleeping.

The next morning, Isabella told her that Jacob gave her a bath because she wanted to play with her toys in the bathtub.

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