How to Handle a Police Interrogation

If you are fully confident that you will live out the rest of your life without ever being questioned by police as a person of interest related to some sort of criminal activity despite the fact that you did not engage in the criminal activity of which you are suspected, then you must be very, very rich. And if you are not very, very rich and you still possess such confidence, then the only other rational explanation for your gullibility masquerading as misplaced assurance is that you quite simply haven’t been paying attention.  

You do not have to have committed a crime to find yourself facing a law enforcement officer sitting across from you in an interrogation room. You do not even have to have any evidence presented by a police officer against you to find yourself intimidated into answering questions that may as well be asked in an official interrogation room.  Forget what you see in the movies. Disregard what is presented as authenticity on television shows, whether scripted or documentarian in nature. I speak from personal experience that has been followed by more than 15 months of research into the subject. And what I can tell anyone who remains confident that absolute innocence guarantees that your civil rights and humanity will be respected by law enforcement officers in America is that they, more than anyone, had better commit to reading and re-reading the advice that follows on the subject of how to handle yourself when questioned by the police. 

The police interrogation that you watch on the movies and TV shows is always fascinating to watch and you invariably find yourself rooting for the police no matter the tactics they use because you know the suspect under fire is guilty. Sometimes the police on those shows even know the suspect is guilty. Yeah, it’s a great bit easier to become a fan of fascist police tactics when you know the police are treating a guilty person with no regard for his civil rights. When it is you under the gun and it is your civil rights be violated and you are absolutely one-hundred percent not guilty, then you might look at police interrogation tactics in the movies and on TV a bit differently. 

Here is the utmost thing to keep in mind if you find yourself being questioned by the police as if you were one of those obviously guilty suspects on the screen: every single aspect of the interview is geared toward retrieving information from you that aligns with their preconceived suspicion of what actually took place. Which translates into something else highly important to remember: no matter which tactics and techniques are employed, the prevailing tone of the interview is accusatory. 

If the police are employing a good cop/bad cop technique, the tone is still going to be accusatory. The only difference between the good and the bad cop is that the accusatory tone becomes more pronounced in the one than the other. This overall air of accusation is not just related to the predominant personality trait exhibited by those who go into law enforce-ment though, certainly, that is a major aspect. Placing you smack dab into the middle of seemingly inescapable environment of accusation serves to create anxiety. Anxiety serves to strip you of your natural defense mechanisms when you are innocent of a crime. Anxiety brings surging back to mind all those examples of innocent people found guilty and sent to jail and even executed. Police officers rely on creating anxiety in those they question and interrogate the way you rely on your conviction that only the guilty are ever actually found guilty. Anxiety is also the easiest pathway toward uncovering concealment, creating inconsistencies and revealing lies. The only problem here is that even innocent people conceal things, lack consistencies and lie. A lie does not automatically equate with guilt. Inconsistency does not equate with guilt. Except in the mind of cops. Who will take just one little bit of concealed information or inconsistency in your story and run with it. 

Another tactic you should be aware of if you are an innocent person being treated as though the court system was based on the concept of guilty until you can prove yourself innocent is a little thing I have coined the Punishment Theoretic. During questioning, a police officer might casually inquire your opinion of a just form of punishment for someone who has committed the crime you are being questioned about. The point of the Punishment Theoretic lies in the simplistic psychology that forms the basis of most law enforcement officer interrogation. Cops generally tend to be unable to think outside their own limited imagination and thus assume that no suspects can get beyond their own primeval level of self-preservation as the motivating factor for all actions. When a cop asks you what you think would be the most just punishment for a crime, the best answer is always the most Draconian. Never suggest treatment or rehabilitative means of addressing criminal behavior. What the cops want to hear is what they think is the only possible answer that a truly innocent person would give. Which just so happens to be the answer they themselves would give. Which is the strictest punishment possible. Why? Because within that accusatory and interrogative environment in which you find yourself, you can usually bet that mindset of the law enforcement official believes that a person innocent of the crime of which he is accused is far more likely to suggest a harsh punishment than a guilty person who may actually have to face that punishment.  

Finally, it is vitally important for the innocent person being interrogated by the police to never mistake the confidence exhibited by cops with any actual knowledge of the facts or possession of evidence. Cops are trained to demonstrate cool and confidence about a suspect’s guilt even when there is absolutely not a single shred of evidence or even a single solid reason for suspicion. In fact, you may very well do better to assume that the more confident the police are in their assumption of your guilt, the less reason for you to be worried. Which is just the exact opposite when it comes to you. The more confident you are in your ultimate exoneration, the more likely the interview will be a short one. Keeping in mind, of course, that confidence is not the same thing as bravado. Don’t be cocky. For God’s sake, never make the mistake of revealing that you think you are smarter than the cops. And don’t boast. Just express confidence in your own innocence. Because, after all, just the slightest lapse in confidence that the cops can misinterpret as the possibility that you just might not be able to worm your way out of getting away with it can doom you.