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Interviewing Victims and Witnesses

Course Number: CR-540
Course Length: 1 Day (7.5 Hours)

Law enforcement officers regularly question victims and witness, who are willing, but unable to supply complete and accurate information. From traffic accidents to armed robberies, citizens usually furnish far less information than they possess. Perhaps additional questioning or the modification of questioning techniques is needed. Perhaps rapport is missing, or the location is improper. This course assesses the psychological environment within which officers normally operate when interviewing victims and witnesses. Why do many potential witnesses to a serious traffic accident, a hit-and-run, or a fleeing felon fail to provide helpful information when questioned? Why do victims walk away from an interview feeling that the officer doesn’t care about solving the crime, since the interview went so badly?

This course discusses the causes, elements, manifestations, patterns and other issues involved in successfully interviewing those who are willing to furnish information to authorities. It presents strategies and techniques for gathering additional useful information during interviews, while leaving the interviewee with a positive impression of the interviewer. Topics include selecting and controlling the interview environment, developing an analysis of each victim/witness so as to employ the proper tactics for the interview, how different people view and remember an incident, why anger may be present and appropriate in the truthful person, recognizing the normal victim response, employing an effective approach and interaction technique, personalizing the interview to maximize recall, and using a variety of techniques to better enable a person to relate accurate information, while being better able to translate this information into actual useful details.

Emphasis is placed on selecting the proper question types and methods of delivery, as well as the analysis of responses. Participants will learn how to obtain more accurate descriptions of persons, vehicles, weapons, and other incident-related observations. Interviewing challenges are discussed, including handling the compliant, dealing with acquiescence and reticence, considering inconsistencies, and proper interview closure.