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A Look At Criminal Profiling: Historical To Present Day

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Obstacles to Interrogation Training

Abstract. This article continues the series on research presented at the 1998 American Psychological Association Annual Convention, San Francisco, California. Part I of the article describes two types of obstacles to effective interrogation train ing. Part II of the article (to be posted in next week's IBPP issue (September 16th) describes approaches to overcoming the obstacles. The article is very closely based on the research of Meir Gilboa, formerly the Commander, National Unit for Serious Cr ime Investigation, Israeli National Police, as presented at the symposium "Four National Approaches to Training Interrogators" that was chaired by Dr. Paul Ekman of the University of California-San Francisco. (Meir Gilboa can be reached at mgilboa@netvis ion.net.il.)

Gilboa posits that there are two types of obstacles to effective interrogation training--(1) misconceptions about the nature of interrogation and (2) human psychological propensities that seem contrary to what is necessary for effective interrogation.

Misconceptions about Interrogation. (1) It is a misconception that interrogation is an art, that one must have a natural ability for it. Interrogation, therefore, cannot be taught. (2) It is a misconception that interrogation can be taug ht--but only through the "real thing." Role playing and the study of research are, therefore, judged to be inconsequential--except for being a waste of time. (3) It is a misconception that interrogation can be taught only through supplying very structured procedures, methods, and prescriptions. Without such substantive content, therefore, training is useless. (4) It is a misconception that interrogation is just a list of questions. Various dynamics and processes of the interrogation experien ce are, therefore, judged to be irrelevant and of little worth in influencing the interrogatee during the social situation labelled "the interrogation." (5) It is a misconception that interrogation is based on "just the facts." Emotional, motivational, and various behavioral phenomena are judged to be irrelevant and superfluous for delineating facts and for being considered facts pertinent to law enforcement, investigative, and criminal justice needs. (6) It is a misconception that interrogation is based on anything more than interpersonal competence--something that people practice throughout their lives. Improvement, therefore, is unlikely or is already occurring without the need for formal training.

Contrary Psychological Propensities. (1) Many interrogators are unaware of how important their own psychology is to the interrogation and interrogatee--e.g., physical appearance, behaviors, expressed and inferred attitude, expressed or inferred e motions and complexes of stress. The interrogater's psychological

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