4 simple questions cops should ask to identify a shady subject

Fabricating information and providing vague details that will get him or her out of trouble as quickly as possible is an indicator

By Uniform Stories

William Shakespeare, in "As You Like It," wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

Each of us plays a role. Some of them are easy to identify. For example, I’m a husband, a dad, a son, a brother, a friend, a cop, a writer and a financial coach. Sometimes, the roles blend together and occupy space at the same time. Other times, I’m 100 percent [insert role] depending on the situational needs or desires.

In my role as a cop, part of my job is defining other people’s roles in any give situation, and those roles can change at the drop of a hat. They are constantly in flux. One second I may be talking to a domestic violence victim, but as soon as the handcuffs go on the suspect, the victim may take on the role of the aggressor toward me because I’m taking their spouse to the hoosegow.

That’s one of the biggest challenges in being a cop. Not only do we have to identify potential threats, but we have to constantly reassess previously identified roles. One of the secrets I’ve learned (and was reminded of on the very day I write this) involves a specific role: the shady subject.

The shady subject can easily be the mask worn by a straight up suspect, so be on your guard. If you encounter a shady subject, it should take you more than a few questions to peel back the mask’s layers to discover what’s really going on inside. And here are those simple questions, with really simple answers.

What's your name?
Think about that for a second. If I ask you what your name is, you should be able to tell me right away. If someone is evasive about their name, it’s incumbent upon the copper to do some more digging.

Where are you coming from?
This question is a bit of a trap and should be utilized in a two-part role (see below for the second part). Odds are the answer will be something along the line of someone's house. Often the shady subject will actually point in the vague direction from which they’ve just come and say “It’s down there.” Totally specific, right?

On what street does your [insert relationship here] live? What is your [insert relationship's name here]'s name?
More often than not, the answer will be something akin to either “I don’t remember” or simply a first name. Now, I don’t expect everyone to know the street address of their friends. As a matter of fact, the only addresses I have committed to memory are my own and the PD’s; however, I can tell you the names of my friends and family.

Where are you headed?
Be prepared for another vague answer. Responses like, “down the way,” or “home” or “my other friend’s house” are not uncommon. If you’re quick on the uptake, you’ll notice that last one can easily lead back down the rabbit hole of the abovementioned items.

Four simple questions for which upstanding citizens have definitive answers. If I were asked these questions, my answers would be quickly and confidently delivered. The shady subject will beat around the bush and try to fabricate any number of tales that will get him or her out of trouble as quickly as possible.

I know some of my first responder friends on the EMS side of the coin can learn something here as well and no doubt have their own kinds of questions to determine what kind of role their patient may be playing and if perhaps PD should be notified to confirm the patient’s true role.

Bonus Question: How many drinks have you had? If the shady subject says, “two” or some variation thereof, you more than likely have yourself a suspect, my friends.

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