2 tips to help keep informants talking

Submitted by:
Scott Buhrmaster, PoliceOne Managing Editor


09/28/2005

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.


Scott Buhrmaster is a longtime contributor to PoliceOne.com, as well as former Publisher of Police Marksman magazine. He has also served as Contributing Editor for Law Officer magazine. Scott has been a member of the law enforcement training community since 1989, when he began work as Director of Research with Calibre Press, Inc., producers of The Street Survival Seminar.

Throughout his tenure at Calibre, Buhrmaster was involved with virtually every aspect of the company’s officer survival training efforts, from the planning, creation and marketing of the organization’s award-winning textbooks and videos to developing and securing training content for the Seminar. In 1995, he was named Director of the Calibre Press Street Survival Newsline®, an Internet-based officer survival training service he helped found. In less than five years, Newsline readership grew from 25 officers to more than 250,000 in 26 countries, making it one of the most popular training vehicles in law enforcement history. His efforts now focus on providing training and information to the nearly 400,000 officers worldwide who visit PoliceOne.com every month.

Prior to joining PoliceOne, Buhrmaster, who also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Force Science Research Center and stands as an active member of the American Society for Law Enforcement Training and the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, was President of The Buhrmaster Consulting Group, an international consulting practice for the law enforcement training sector and the publishing industry.

Contact Scott Buhrmaster




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