three may have compared stories. The fourth may have
been too far from a 1MC speaker.
Interviewers who have the following types of
personalities can also influence a witness:
Proud, overconfident (COLUMBO complex)
Timid, insecure, insincere
The interviewers body language can intimidate
witnesses or set them at ease. When interviewing, sit on
the same level as the witness, not above. Offer the
witness a soft drink or cup of coffee. Use a quiet place,
such as an office or stateroom, to conduct the interview,
not a crowded lunchroom. If a male is interviewing a
female (or vice versa), the interviewer should ensure the
door remains open and the place is not secluded. Make
sure you are not interrupted during the interview.
Interview one-on-oneavoid ganging up on a witness
with two or three investigators.
INTERVIEW-DO NOT INTERROGATE!
Be sincere and friendly to your witnesses. Provide
a phone number where you can be reached if they wish
to add something they forgot to their testimony. Explain
the purpose of your investigation. Do not argue with
Before your interviews, you should preplan a few
common questions. Asking each witness a few similar
questions can help determine if the witnesss account is
believable. Write down pertinent questions about which
a particular witness may have information. Have a basic
understanding of the equipment, material, and
procedures surrounding the mishap. If you are not
familiar with how a band saw works, you may not be
able to ask pertinent questions about how the victim
used the saw.
Ask neutral questions. Ask questions that require
explanations, not just a yes or no answer. Listen, and
permit silent periods. Do not rush your witness. Keep
the interview on track. Solicit a witnesss assistance and
recommendations to prevent recurrence of the mishap.
Always start with the same question: WHAT FIRST
ATTRACTED YOUR ATTENTION TO THE
You may want to use a visual orientation to jog
the witnesss memory. If not too traumatic, take the
witness to the mishap scene. Let the witness explain
what happened, who was standing where, and what
his or her actions were. First refresh the witnesss
memory at the scene; then conduct the interview. Be
sensitive to your witness. A witness who saw a friend
injured or killed may be too upset to provide much
If you want to interview a victim in the hospital,
check with the physician first to see if an interview
would harm the victim. Go to the hospital sometime
other than regular visiting hours. Relatives of the
victim may be hostile, press for information, or upset
the victim. Relatives may try to blame you or your
command for hurting their loved one.
In an informal interview you listen to the witness
and take notes. Although a witness may draw a scene
or write down a sequence of events, a local or
command mishap investigation does not use Advice
to Witnesses forms or take written statements.
A mishap investigation board does use the Advice
to Witnesses form and can ask for a written statement.
A witness who is reluctant to write a statement may
record or dictate the statement. Review dictated
statements with the witness. Have a recorded
statement transcribed; then review it with the witness.
Let witnesses know that you may call them in later
to reinterview them or ask them more questions.
Encourage witnesses to add to their testimony later,
An interview has four phases:
First phaseFree narrative
Second phaseRepeat the story
Third phaseReview the information
Fourth phaseClear up inconsistencies
Once you have interviewed and reinterviewed your
witnesses, then you must analyze their information.