As part of my 2018 reading theme of "Crime and Punishment", I'm starting to learn about how the police investigate crimes. This $0.99 self-published Kindle book was worth about what I paid for it. Although it contains a few useful bits of information, "How to Beat The Police Interrogation" is terribly edited and essentially says the same thing over and over - never confess, don't talk more than you are legally obligated to. Besides its brevity, this book's only redeeming feature is a profane sense of humor (including frequent references to the "Graybar Hotel" a.k.a jail). Several of the tactics, including the "shark card" gambit, were also interesting, but mostly the anonymous author tells us to lawyer up and keep our mouths shut.
My highlights below.
I wrote this book many years ago when I was a police detective in Florida.
I performed interrogations for years and taught the subject in police academies. Usually it was a satisfying experience, using Jedi Mind Tricks against your opponent and finally winning in the end. It also tends to make you a cold, ruthless opportunist who looks for weaknesses in opponents so you can exploit those weaknesses in order to succeed. I was a professional liar and betrayer of confidences by trade. Interrogation itself can be defined as a sophisticated process of befriending and betraying others at their weakest moments.
In a world full of high priced attorneys who are out to get your money, and cops who are out to put your ass in prison, I have crossed an undefined border to emerge as your unlikely savior if you are accused of a crime. Remember these three principles, before we walk into my world:
- Admit Nothing.
- Deny Everything.
- Demand Proof.
The first rule of surviving the police interrogation is never thinking the cops are dumb. If you fall into that trap, you are lost.
Don't tell anyone anything about any crimes you’ve committed.
If I were to investigate you for anything, I would not talk to you first. I would talk to everyone you know.
What you do or do not say to these “inquiring minds” may mean the difference between your freedom and an extended visit to the “Graybar Hotel” (jail), not to mention a fun whirl at playing the Expensive Lawyer Game, where all the chips on the table are yours, and the game is always rigged in the house’s favor.
Neighbors are the nosiest people on earth, I have found. If I want information on a person, I simply find a senior citizen in your neighborhood and ask the questions I need answers to. If they do not have the answers, I leave them a camera and tape recorder: By the end of the week, I would know everything you do at home, who visits you and what vehicles are at your house.
If the interrogator learns of ex-girlfriends or boyfriends, he will exploit them to no end.
Beware of anyone you know who has gone to jail, or been interrogated recently. If they start coming around to your place acting friendly and asking questions, your “buddy” has probably turned informant.
The police pay out money to informants quite regularly, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in some departments.
If you use a cellular and/or portable telephone, I do not even need to tap it. All I have to do is sit a couple blocks away and use a scanner to pick up your conversations. Cellular telephones and portable telephones are nothing but radio transmitters. If you know the frequency, you can listen in. Think about everything you talk about. If you've ever committed a crime, have you talked about it over a telephone? That is a big mistake.
Officer Friendly is the likeiest interrogator most citizens will encounter in daily life. He is also the most dangerous, because he is the beginning of the criminal justice process. If you can avoid him, you will also avoid a large part of your problems. As you may have guessed, “Officer Friendly” is the police officer who probably drives past you every day as you move around town.
The better you dress and the more professional your physical appearance, then there is far less likelihood of the police screwing with you. In our culture, appearance equals power.
If you want to come out on top in a street battle with Officer Friendly, listen closely and do these things:
1. Find out who the best private legal shark (lawyer) with the biggest dorsal fin around town is.
2. Pay the shark's office a visit.
3. Prior to leaving, get a bunch of his business cards if he seems impressive (they are the real reason you came).
4. Now you have a tool to fight Officer Friendly with if he stops you. The Shark Card: Do not leave home without it. I have seen more cops scared off with the implied threat of legal action than by any other means.
1. If stopped for any reason, be polite and personable as possible. If you show any sign of weakness, such as nervousness or anger, then you are going to lose.
3. If on-foot or outside a vehicle, you should stand with your legs shoulder width apart. This shows that you feel in control and are not hiding anything. Interrogators call this a “dominance stance.”
4. Keep your hands where the cop can see them, about waist high or better and about body width apart. Show your palms. “Talk” with them as Italians do. This type of body language shows honesty and openness.
5. Look directly at the cop's eyes when he is speaking to you, tilting your head to one side slightly.
6. After Officer Friendly finishes his spiel (asking you for identification, etc.), ask him politely why he stopped you. Look for hesitation on his part. If you see it, take it as a sign that things are going your way.
7. Your next question should be “Am I free to go, Officer?” You have now moved the stakes of the game up a notch. If he does not have a good reason to detain you, he will say that you can leave. If he says you are free to go, say that you want to leave.
8. Do not agree to a search of your car or your person under any circumstances, no matter what he says. If he had the power to keep you there or search you, he would do it without your permission. Why make it easy on him? Tell the nice officer that you are going somewhere and need to leave, right now.
9. If Officer Friendly says you can leave, do so immediately.
Take out your lucky shark card and state, “Nothing against you, Officer, but my attorney said that if I'm ever stopped for any reason that he wanted the police officer who did it to call him. He also said that I shouldn't talk to you except to give you my personal information and home address.”
Under the law, you must provide personal information, such as your name, date of birth and anything else that would identify you. Answer questions the officer’s questions that pertain to who you are and where you can be contacted, but nothing else!
Remember, the Supreme Court stated several times over that the police can legally lie to you. Do not think they will not! Keep coming back with “I'm not allowed to talk with you, sorry! I want my attorney.”
Unbelievably, I have seen it happen in literally hundreds of cases, and I have had the State Attorney's Office tell me the same thing many times. If there is no confession, then the State will not prosecute you. You should already know what this means to you: Do not confess under any circumstances.
While under arrest, you should never talk to the police or anyone at all except to give them information as required by law. Moreover, you should never discuss your case with anyone other than your lawyer, spouse, or priest, and I do not recommend you trust your spouse or your priest.
There are a few rules you must understand if the police arrest you and being at a police department: Assume everyone there is a cop. Even the person lying in the cell with you could be one.
Assume everyone who is not a cop is an informant. Your best friend will sell you out in a heartbeat. Enough said!
No questions asked by the police? Questions asked, but the person is free to leave? Then the police do not have to read you your rights! It's called “Custodial Interrogation, “and you need the elements of both “custody” and “interrogation” before it's necessary for Miranda to be read. OOPS, that is not what the television shows said, right?
remember that the Supreme Court has said that if you say you want a lawyer, the police cannot ask you questions about any crimes you are suspected of committing, and they cannot interrogate you about crimes you are suspected of committing if you say you do not want to talk to them. It is that simple. You do not have to talk to the police.
Keep in mind though, if you know about a crime that someone else committed but that you had no part in, then you have no legal protection. The court cannot force you to disclose information about crimes that other people have committed, and if you refuse to cooperate, then the judge can hold you in contempt (or worse). The Fifth Amendment protects only you, not others. It's the right against self incrimination, remember?!
Nor should you be terrified at the prospect of going head to head with a big city detective. Many times these cops are the true Barney Fifes of police work, because it is easier to get lost in a larger department where nobody can see that you are a moron.
The best interrogators work alone, and will only bring another interrogator in if they feel a need to later on in the program. He will be friendly and non-confrontational in the beginning, although he may switch tactics later.
Your chair will not move. The interrogator's chair will be on wheels so he can invade your body space when he feels it appropriate to do so.
The recording devices are hidden so that you will feel at ease when talking. Do not believe the interrogator if he says he is not recording your every word. He is, or will be, and entirely without your permission. Not that he needs it, of course.
The best interrogators will start out by evaluating your normal behavior and responses to a set series of questions. From there, the interrogator will then ask you a second series of questions called “critical response” questions. These questions are designed to indicate whether you are being deceptive or not. This method is the same one that polygraphists use.
**My advice to you is to deny the interrogator the tool of having a baseline on you. **When asked a question, act in ways that you normally would not. You should answer the questions honestly during this phase, but you should shift around in your seat. Look away from the interrogator at times, and at others stare at him. Pause before answering some questions, but not others. You may be able to confuse the interrogator.
When answering this second series of questions, always look right at him, and keep your hands as far apart as possible. Answer as quickly as you can, keeping your body language consistent. Do not fidget!
1.Joe, do you know why I asked you here today? Your reply: Sure - it's about... (Do not evade the issue, both of you know why you are there.).
2.Joe, we are investigating a..., let me ask you right up front: Did you do this? Your reply: No! (Do not hesitate in your denial. Make it firm and clear. Make sure you establish good eye contact with the interrogator. Watch your tone of voice, making sure it does not rise or fall.)
3.Joe, do you know could have done this crime? Your reply: I think you should look at Bob No Good. I do not trust him! (Offer somebody specific — anybody! Innocent people usually tell the police about somebody that they just do not like or trust even if they say that they think that that person probably did not commit the crime.)
4.Joe, is there anyone you would vouch for and say did not do this? Your reply: Billy Do Good would not, he's too nice. (Offer the most innocent person you can think of — guilty people almost never do that. They say something stupid like “Anyone could have done it.”)
5.Joe, how do you feel about me interviewing you about this thing? Your reply: I want you to catch who did this thing, but I have no idea why you were talking to me. (Do not act angry, or negative. That is what guilty people do! )
6. Joe, do you think that this really happened, or do you think something else is going on? Your reply: Of course it happened! (This is a trap. The interrogator is trying to make you fabricate tales of lost money, misplaced cars and accidental deaths instead of the real crimes. Guilty people fall for this a lot, innocent people never do. If the crime did not happen, why would lease the interrogating you)
7. Joe, who do you think would have the best opportunity to do this thing? Your reply: Bob No Good. (Name the same person you named before, as you have already committed yourself. Honest people do the very same thing, so should you.)
8. Joe, why do you think someone would do this thing? Your reply: Maybe they were desperate for some reason. (My biggest piece of advice for this question? Never say because they wanted to frame someone. It will mark you as being instantly deceptive. The interrogator is using another technique to trap you.)
9. Joe, did you ever think of doing something like this? Your reply: No way! (Honest people do not have such evil, nasty thoughts. At least, they do not admit to it.)
10. Joe, what do you think should happen to the person who did this thing? Your reply: I think they should be put in jail. (Here is the deal: Bad Guys never want to suggest punishment. Good Guys want their ounce of blood. Act like a Good Guy!)
11. Joe, how do you think the results of this investigation will turn out on you? Your reply: I will be cleared. (You should be as confident as possible when saying this, and look directly at the interrogator. There should be no trace of ambiguity in your assertion.)
12. Joe, do think the person who did this deserves a second chance? Your reply: No! Remember, Good Guys want blood! Bad Guys tend to minimize everything.)
13. Joe, can you prove to me you did not do this? Your reply: No. (This is a tricky question. The interrogator wants you to give him an outlandish alibi so he can make you out to be a liar. Just do not play the game. Honest people cannot always provide alibis either.)
14. Joe, would be willing to take a polygraph test? Your reply: Yes. (Do not hesitate at all. Honest people usually will not hesitate.)
15. Joe, how do you think you would do on that lie detector test? Your reply: I would pass it with flying colors. (Again, do not hesitate. State immediately and firmly that you are innocent.)
16. Joe, is there any reason that are investigation would show that... (your fingerprints, footprints, skin, etc.) was found at the scene of the crime? Your reply: No.
Do not buy into this fraud. The mere fact that he is talking to you at all means he needs a confession from you.
Most undisciplined interrogators will usually give up if you can last for a half hour. Rarely will they go beyond a hour, because they run out of steam.
If he is very dumb, he will make a promise to you that he will get a good deal cut for you, if you confess. Cops cannot do this — only prosecutors can, and in order to get you a reduced sentence, the court has to sign off on the plea bargain.
You have been programmed to believe you should obey my authority, cooperate with me, and accompany me to a police station, because it is expected of you if you're innocent, and you want to appear innocent, don't you? You are such a naive bastard! What a big mistake! You do not have to go or cooperate with the police, so you should never do it. The only reason that you should accept an offer like this is if you want to learn what type of evidence there is against you. Even then, it is a risky proposition. Generally, you cannot be arrested in your home without a warrant. However, if you step outside your home, you are fair game for a detective who has Probable Cause to believe you committed a crime.
The interrogator may try to influence you to confess by affirming your family values, or that of your pride. He may point out that you are a “good American boy, who only made a mistake!” He will extol the virtues of family, friends and others who believe in you, and would want you to “tell the truth.” We call this one the “Pledge of the Allegiance Technique” since the interrogator is trying to find something in which you have pride. By attacking that symbol of your pride, he is hoping you'll defend it by confessing. Guess what? It works!
Now, when someone is killed, you naturally look at those who love him first, those know him well second, and those hate him last. Why? Actual street experience has shown us that the people closest to you are the ones who kill you the most often, except for robberies that go wrong and the occasional visit onto mankind of those predators such as Jeffrey Dahlmer.
Willing victims are not victims in my book. No, Mrs. Born Loser went to jail because she was too stupid to be allowed to walk the streets.
In addition, I have developed a theory: People think that if you tell a cop you did something wrong, he is going to tell you to go forth and sin no more. Wake up! Cops are not priests, and anything you tell a cop is liable to hurt you somewhere down the road. Welcome to the jungle, baby! The only true purpose a cop has in life is to place people in jail for committing crimes.
Lesson Number One: Do not panic if arrested. It means nothing other than there is Probable Cause. Probable Cause arrests are nolo persecuted or thrown out of court every day. Lesson Number Two: Never lose the faith. Keep making denials until that nasty old interrogator gives up and goes back to his doughnuts. Lesson Number Three: Confessing never helps you, just the cops. If you want to cut a plea bargain, get one through your attorney.
If you commit crimes with friends, there is always a chance they will talk. But don't assume they have. It's a tough call, but my advice is to wait it out and don't confess just because a cop tells you your friend did. You can always accuse the friend of lying.