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Police Confessions, Essay Example

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Essay

Crimes are committed and people confess to them. But some people confess to crimes they have never committed. Some do it knowingly while some are coerced or tricked. As you prepare for a career in law enforcement, it is vital that you know how to conduct interrogations, and it is vital that you know what to listen and look for while doing so. Some of your interrogations will be successful and some will not. But note that a successful outcome is not necessarily one that leads to a confession. Instead, it may teach you that your suspect is not in fact guilty, or lacks the knowledge to help with your investigation. The goal of an interrogation is truth, not plausible lies masquerading as truth crafted under duress for the meeting of a quota.

Many people confess simply because it is easier than trying to deceive the police. They may be exhausted,  either physically or psychologically; or the crime itself may not warrant the effort of evading prosecution. Others, like George Washington and his father’s cherry tree, may choose to face the consequences of their own actions in order to teach themselves a moral lesson that may serve as a guide in the future. It’s interesting that the nature of the crime, no matter how reprehensible it may be perceived by the public as being, is not a bar to immediate confession on the part of the perpetrator. In other words, you shouldn’t expect that suspects in child molestation cases will always show a reluctance or failure to confess during interrogations: they may confess immediately. By the same token, you can’t expect that those arrested for minor shoplifting will necessarily admit to the crime, in spite of the videotaped evidence.

Those who give false confessions may also be guided by exhaustion. Faced with a determined investigator and a body of incriminating evidence, innocent suspects may simply confess rather than spend time and money denying it. Many such suspects are those who, although not directly guilty of a crime, may have been associated with it or know who the perpetrator is. They are, in the eyes of the public and police, guilty by association. In such cases, the plea bargain is a highly effective police tool. For that reason, it must be used with care, lest the conviction allow the true perpetrator to escape justice. This forbearance will admittedly be hard to practice in day-to-day police work, as the pressure to obtain confessions can be high.

As a police officer just starting out, probably the best way to improve interrogations is to gather the evidence correctly in the first place and be sure all the prerequisites (Miranda rights, etc.) are in place beforehand. So following procedure correctly will be essential for you at first. Later, with experience (and simply by growing older) you will learn how to season your investigation and interrogation with deeper insights into psychology.

One of the first lessons to learn and assimilate is what an interrogation is and what it isn’t. In brief, a typical interrogation occurs after arrest and the subject has waived his right to remain silent or to have an attorney present during the interrogation. It may even be said that the presence of a defense attorney effectively turns an interrogation into an interview. An interview, by contrast, may be with any number of people including the suspect(s), but not under arrest or perhaps even suspicion. An example would be a witness who has agreed to be questioned for background details. It should be remembered that anyone interviewed under these circumstances may yet become a suspect and thus subject to interrogation. Therefore it is important not to let an interview morph into an interrogation. Always remember that an interview is conducted on the outward assumption that it is for information only and not necessarily intended to incriminate anyone and will not necessarily be videoed. In an interrogation, the person undergoing questioning is a suspect ipso facto and the atmosphere is colored by the camera and its replay.

In conclusion, as you start your career in law enforcement, watch, listen, memorize, write down, and remember. At the art of interrogation, some of you will have talent, and some will not.

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