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Developing an interview strategy

The first couple minutes of the interview should consist of non-threatening background questions such as the spelling of the suspect’s name, his address, marital status, job duties, etc. These questions allow the investigator to establish the suspect’s behavioral norms within the areas of eye contact, communication style and general nervous tension. In addition, these initial questions allow the investigator to establish a rapport with the suspect.

This introduction establishes the non-accusatory tone of the interview, and also the non-judgmental position of the investigator. The emphasis on being truthful, as opposed to a threatening statement (such as, "If you lie to me today I will prove that and you will be sorry!") will work to the investigator’s advantage later if it becomes necessary to interrogate the suspect.

The issue under investigation may be introduced by asking the suspect, "Tell me everything you know about (the issue under investigation)." Regardless of the suspect’s answer to that question, it is very important for the investigator to first precisely define the issue under investigation and then ask the suspect whether or not he committed the crime. The following is an example of this in a date rape case:

"Jerry, Linda Jones has reported that last Saturday evening you undressed her and forced her to have sexual intercourse with you by striking her with your hand. If you did do that our investigation will clearly indicate that. On the other hand, if this did not happen it will show that as well. Before we go any further, let me ask, did you force Linda to have sex with you last Saturday evening?"

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