Let the tears flow

The following tip surfaced during a discussion at a Force Science training class:

If a victim starts crying during an interview, don’t immediately volunteer to stop the interview (“It’s OK. Let’s take a break and give you a minute to gather your thoughts…”) That kind of response can make a victim feel inadequate, weak and further out of control of him/herself.

It can also divert their attention from the main goal of the discussion – which is trying to get you the important details of the event you need – to the task of just trying to hold back tears so you don’t have to stop the interview.

If they start crying, offer them a Kleenex, but don’t stop dead in your tracks. If you can move comfortably through tearful moments, you keep the rhythm flowing, you look like you’re experienced and used to dealing with trauma victims (as opposed to being jarred by crying) and you keep the victim feeling more comfortable and empowered to tell their story.

About the author

The Force Science Institute was launched in 2004 by Executive Director Bill Lewinski, PhD. — a specialist in police psychology — to conduct unique lethal-force experiments. The non-profit Force Science Institute, based at Minnesota State University-Mankato, uses sophisticated time-and-motion measurements to document-for the first time-critical hidden truths about the physical and mental dynamics of life-threatening events, particularly officer-involved shootings. Its startling findings profoundly impact on officer training and safety and on the public's naive perceptions.

For more information, visit www.forcescience.org or e-mail info@forcescience.org. If you would benefit from receiving updates on the FSRC's findings as well as a variety of other use-of-force related articles, please visit www.forcesciencenews.com and click on the "Please sign up for our newsletter" link at the front of the site. Subscriptions are free.

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