How Police Officers Get Confessions

When interrogating suspects, police officers, and law enforcement agents have only one goal in mind: to extract a confession. Experienced officers are extremely adept at doing this – so adept that they often use tactics that might seem unfair or unethical and which skirt the boundaries of the law. This is why the most important thing to remember if you have been arrested or brought in for questioning is to remain silent until a Terre Haute criminal defense lawyer is present. As the Miranda warning says, anything you say to a police officer can and will be used against you, so don’t give them the opportunity by saying anything. This may be difficult as police officers have a variety of tactics to try to get suspects to talk, and time is on their side. If this happens to you, try to stay calm and keep yourself aware of your surroundings.

The Facts About “Good Cop/Bad Cop”

What many people know as the “Good Cop/Bad Cop” tactic actually originated as the Reid interrogation tactic in the 1940s. The way it is often portrayed in cop shows and movies is not too far from the way it is used in real life.

A Terre Haute criminal defense attorney can explain the key elements of this tactic:

  • Isolation: The suspect is brought into a dark, sometimes unpleasant room and made to sit in a chair alone until the officer decides to come in. By forbidding the suspect from having any outside contact with friends or family or any way to let them know what has happened, the police hope to isolate the suspect and make them feel alone and like they have no other way out but to talk.
  • Bad Cop: The officer begins by stating as a definitive conclusion that the suspect is guilty, and he knows it and has all the evidence he needs to make an open-and-shut case. The officer might offer a theory of the crime based on some evidence, but often based on assumptions or fabrications in order to plant those ideas into the suspect’s mind. The officer dismisses any claims of innocence by the suspect as ridiculous and contrary to the evidence, even if the officer does not actually have evidence that refutes it.
  • Good Cop: The officer (this might be a different officer playing the “good cop” or it might be the same one) then acts more understanding to the subject, saying that the suspect may have had a good reason to the commit the crime and can make things easier himself by confessing. The good cop makes the suspect believe a quick confession could mean an equally quick release. If not, he’s facing even more interrogation. All of this assumes that the suspect does not have a Terre Haute criminal defense lawyer in the room. The instant a suspect asks to have a lawyer present, police are supposed to stop all questioning until the lawyer arrives, and the lawyer will know exactly how these tactics work. This is why the first thing an arrestee should do is request to speak to a lawyer, so that the cops do not have the opportunity to begin the mind game of “Good Cop/Bad Cop.”