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2 tips to help keep informants talking

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September 28, 2005

2 tips to help keep informants talking

Submitted by:
Scott Buhrmaster, PoliceOne Managing Editor

Interview & interrogation expert Pat McCarthy, producer of the "Street Cop" video training series, knows the value of making street informants comfortable enough to keep talking to you. Here are a couple of quick tips that can help you avoid making a move that will cause a contact to clam up.

1. Hold off on the notes.

When you're trying to get information from someone on the street who may be hesitant to talk, consider not taking notes the first time they go through a story or give up information. When they see a pad and pen come out, they may have a tendency to get spooked and stop talking. Once they've started talking, it's easier to get them to reiterate what they said (which can help fill holes you might have in your memory of their first telling) and to keep talking while you take notes later in the contact.

2. When you take notes, be consistent.

During a formal interview, be sure to take notes after every question. If you only jot notes after they give up a piece of particularly valuable information, they will realize the importance of that specific knowledge and become more protective of it if you need to ask for more. If you give the impression that everything they say has equal weight, you're more likely to get elaboration on the heavy stuff when you need it.

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