How does the Reid Technique and police interrogation work?

interrogationThe most popular method of police interrogation is called “The Reid Technique“.  It was developed in 1974 by John E. Reid.  There are many critics of the technique, including the American Civil Liberties Union.  Critics say that the technique elicits unreliable and false confessions.

Being interrogated by the police is one of the most scary times for a person suspected of a crime.  It is also one of the most important times to stay quiet and ask for an attorney.  The problem lies in the fact that most people are intimidated by the police (which is what they want) and will say just about anything to make the interrogation stop.  Do not answer questions and ask for an attorney – these are the most important things to remember if you are every faced with being interrogated by police.

The 9 Steps of the Reid Technique

1.  Confrontation:  detective presents the facts of the case and the evidence against the suspect.  Evidence could be real or made up.  Detective sounds confident and invades suspects space.  If there is fidgeting the detective will think he is on the right track and continue.

2.  Theme Development: interrogator creates a story about why the suspect committed the crime.  Interrogator watches body language – is he nodding his head? paying closer attention?  If so, he will continue.  If not, he will try another theme.  Interrogator speaks in a soft and non-threatening voice to give the suspect a false security.

3.  Stopping Denials:  detective will interrupt denials of guilt.  Possibly tell suspect it will be his turn to talk in a minute but right now he needs to listen.  Stopping denials will also minimize the chance the suspect will ask for a lawyer.  Detective is trying to keep suspect’s confidence at a low point.

4.  Overcoming Objections:  Once a theme has been developed and the suspect can relate to it there may be an offer of logical denials.  The detective will turn those around to use against the suspect.

5.  Getting the Suspect’s Attention:  the suspect should be frustrated and unsure.  The interrogator will try to use that insecurity against the suspect by pretending to be an ally.

6.  The Suspect Loses Resolve:  there may be in indication of surrender – head in hands, elbows on knees.  The detective then starts the confession process.  There is eye contact to increase stress.



7.  Alternatives:  the interrogator offers two different motives for the crime.  This will sometimes begin with a minor aspect so to be less threatening.  One motive will be less serious than the other and the detective will continue to build the contrast between the two.  There will likely be increased signs of surrender.

8.  Bringing the Suspect Into the Conversation:  once an alternative is chosen the confession has begun.  There are new people brought into the interrogation room and the suspect will confess to them.  This will increase the stress level and the desire to get the entire episode over with.

9.  Confession:  the confession will be either videotaped or written out.  The suspect will confirm that the statement is voluntary and not coerced and the statement is signed in front of witnesses.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Constitutional_Rights_Defense_AttorneyWhen you are a suspect in a crime and the police want to speak to you – they are not your friend. You should never under any circumstances speak to police without an attorney with you.  There is a reason why the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself is in the United States Constitution – IT IS THAT IMPORTANT!!  The Reid Technique is routinely used to take advantage of untrained lay people being investigating for possible criminal actions.  The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are highly experienced Michigan criminal defense attorneys.  Our attorneys specialize in defending criminal actions and defending statements that were made as a result of questionable police conduct.  The Michigan criminal defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. take great pride in their ability to protect their clients from overzealous police officers and overreaching by the government in its desire to prosecute.  Our attorneys are well respected and have a reputation for success.  If you have any questions, please contact LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you.


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