When too many persons are present, the individual
being interviewed may be reluctant to divulge all that he
or she knows about an incident.
individual in the presence of many persons has been held
by the courts to constitute duress. On the other hand,
someone should be present to witness the questioning,
to witness any statement made, and to protect the
interviewer against a possible charge of coercion or
Normally, not more than two interviewers
should be present.
Preparing for the Interview
Prepare yourself adequately to conduct an
This preparation is sometimes hasty,
consisting of no more than a mental review of your
knowledge of the case or of a quick briefing by the
investigator who arrived first at the crime scene. When
time permits, a more formal preparation is made.
Preparation includes the following three elements.
FAMILIARITY WITH THE CASE. You
should fix in your mind all that is known of the who,
what, when, where, and how of the crime.
particular attention to the specific details, especially
those that have not become public knowledge.
FAMILIARITY WITH THE SUBJECTS
Acquire some background
knowledge of the subject before attempting to interview
him or her. In the event this is impossible, attempt to
obtain the background information during the initial
portion of the interview. This knowledge will enable
you to adopt a correct approach to the subject and to
extract a maximum amount of valuable information
from him or her. The actual knowledge will also enable
you to test the subjects truthfulncss and to impress him
or her with the thoroughness of the investigation.
Background facts of particular value include the
. Age, place of birth, nationality, and race
Q Present or former rank (with civilians, status in
business or the community)
l Educational level, present duty, and former
. Habits and associates; how and where leisure
time is spent
. Information concerning any prior courts-martial
or civilian court convictions
ESTIMATE OF INFORMATION SOUGHT.
Determine in advance, where possible, the information
to be sought in the interview. Prepare a set of questions
that you can consult unobtrusively during the interview.
Design questions to induce the subject to tell his or her
story rather than to elicit yes or no answers. Take care
neither to overestimate nor underestimate the subject as
a source of information.
Planning the Interview
A person is formally interviewed as soon as possible
after the incident to obtain information still fresh in his
or her mind, to prevent him or her from being threatened
or coerced, or to prevent collaboration of testimony
between him or her and others.
TIME OF INTERVIEW. The time that is chosen
must be convenient to both you and the subject and must
allow adequate opportunity for a thorough interview.
Improper scheduling will result in a rushed interview in
which important details can be overlooked. If an
interview is to take place in the home or place of
business of the subject, give consideration to the time of
day; generally, a time should be selected that will
interfere least with the normal activities of the subject
and will permit the completion of the interview.
Sometimes, to throw the subject off balance and
thereby achieve an important psychological advantage,
it is advisable to select a time that will completely
disrupt the subjects normal activities. However, take
great care to be sure such action does not result in either
legal liability on the part of the military or unfavorable
comment in the civilian community.
PLACE OF INTERVIEW. You should make
every effort to conduct the interview in a place where
you have the psychological advantage. Decide on the
basis of the facts in each case where you think your
chances are best for encouraging the subject to talk. At
times it is best to interview a subject among familiar
surroundings, such as in his or her home or office,
especially if visiting the investigators office would
impose an undue hardship on the subject or tend to
disturb him or her unduly.
At other times it is best to hold an interview in your
office or in some other place where the subject is
deprived of the comfort or ease of familiar environment.
At a regular place of interview, you can control the
lighting and the physical features of the room and also
be able to prevent destructing influences that may affect
the subjects ability to conceal wanted information. For
an interview with an informer witness whose identity