Reid Training: does it impact what happens in the interrogation room?

In an attempt to learn from the interrogator’s perspective, about how interrogators are trained, interrogation practices in general as well as if the techniques used differed when the suspect was a juvenile or adult, Cleary and Warner (2016) surveyed seasoned police from across the country. At the time they were surveyed, the officers were attending an intensive training at the FBI academy. Three hundred and forty officers participated in this study. Eighty-three percent where White, on average those surveyed were 44 years old and most were from local law enforcement agencies. Forty-five percent of them had conducted over 100 interrogations of juvenile suspects and 83% had conducted more than 100 interrogations of adult suspects.

In describing their formal training, over half of those surveyed reported they received multiple days of training in the Reid Technique. Those who were Reid-trained indicated the training was useful. Overall, they ranked the Reid training as 4.16 on a scale of 1-5 where 5 was very satisfied. Despite the level and type of formal training, 91% of the officers surveyed indicated they received informal or on-the-job interrogation training which lasted approximately five days.

The researchers asked the officers a range of questions about interrogation techniques. Officers were presented with 16 different techniques ranging from building rapport, minimizing the seriousness of the offense, leaving the suspect alone in the interrogation room to presenting suspects with real or false evidence. Officers indicated they used 13 of the 16 techniques with adults and 11 of the 16 techniques with juvenile suspects. The researchers grouped the techniques into four types: 1) pre-interrogation (e.g., building rapport), 2) manipulation (e.g., minimizing the seriousness of the offense), 3) confrontation (e.g., emphasizing the seriousness of the offense) and 4) presentation of evidence techniques (e.g., presenting false or real evidence). Results indicated that police used multiple techniques during an interrogation and used a similar pattern of techniques regardless of the subject’s age.

The evaluators examined factors that influenced an officer’s use of the aforementioned technique types. Regardless of the suspect’s age, officers who were Reid-trained were more likely to use pre-interrogation techniques compared to those who did not have this training. Reid-training, an officer’s experience as well as department policy regarding video recording interrogations influenced the use of manipulation techniques. When it came to an adult suspect, those officers with more experience interrogating adults, who were in a department with a policy regarding video recording interrogations, or who were Reid-trained, were more likely to use manipulation techniques with either adult or juvenile suspects. In contrast, the use of confrontation techniques was not associated with experience interrogating juveniles or adults, training, or department policy. None of these factors influenced the use the final technique – presentation of evidence – with adults. In contrast, police who had more experience interrogating juveniles were more likely to use this technique with juveniles.

In summarizing their work, Cleary and Warner (2016) acknowledged, just as those who teach the Reid Technique claimed, theirs was the most popular formal training technique. The authors noted manipulation techniques represented “a set of psychologically sophisticated tools in the toolbox of Reid-trained interrogators. Reid-trained officers appear to ‘specialize’ in these manipulation strategies and use them more frequently than non-Reid trained officers. The concern with these techniques, especially the manipulation items, is the potentially calamitous consequences of using them in conjunction with vulnerable suspects, especially juveniles…” p. 281



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