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Psychological aspects of interviews and interrogation

There is a report of a critical missing child. You are summoned to the scene along with a missing persons detective. It is at a large apartment complex. As you approach the scene, you observe dozens of uniformed officers, volunteer firemen, concerned neighbors and citizens, and the press. Overhead, circling is the local TV news helicopter.

The first uniformed officer on the scene and the police commander approach you to provide a briefing on what has happened, prior to your arrival. You learn that the child is a male, age 9, lives with his mother, younger sister, and the mother's live in boyfriend. The child has no history of running away from home and has been missing for over 24 hours. The police commander announces that they are doing a grid search for the child since they have all of the volunteers wanting to help find the child.

The mother, sister, and the mother's live-in boyfriend are all present at the scene as you can observe them being interviewed by the press. After receiving your briefing, you ask to speak with them.
Refer to the main scenario. As you engage the family in more general questions surrounding the disappearance of the child at the detective bureau, you ask the mother and daughter to retire to another interview room so they may be interviewed individually. The live-in boyfriend initially refuses your request and continues to grasp the arm of the mother. At this point, you continue to become suspicious of the live-in boyfriend.

Write a memorandum from your notes to the file, detailing your suspicion of the live-in boyfriend. Include the following:

His initial refusal to allow the mother to speak with you alone
His reluctance to fully cooperate with you
Any detected nervousness or uneasiness displayed during the interview process and any other observations you may make of his behavior
Explain how you will overcome any reluctance to cooperate with your investigation.
Will you utilize open or closed questioning? Why?

Solution Preview

1) Live-in boyfriend's initial refusal to allow the mother to speak with you alone.

This brings up some interesting concerns. If the boyfriend was not responsible for the little boy's disappearance, why would he object to the mother speaking to the police alone?

Keep in mind that there are some valid reasons. Sometimes police are more concerned about closing a case than actually solving it. As such, he may want the mother to have someone else or an attorney present. Depending on the tone of the police, this may or may not be an issue.

Perhaps the live-in boyfriend is in no way responsible, but might be carrying on other criminal activity such as drug dealing. Maybe his is afraid that this will come out in the questioning.

Perhaps the live-in boyfriend is involved, even responsible. Maybe he is afraid that the police will tell the mother something about him. Maybe he is afraid that they are on to him.

Overall, considering the fact pattern it sound suspicious and is something that should be noted and addressed.

2) Live-in boyfriend's refusal to cooperate.

This is closely tied ...

Solution Summary

Psychological aspects of interviews and interrogation is examined.

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