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Understanding the Reid interrogation technique

On Behalf of | Nov 7, 2019 | Firm News

Police detectives can be tremendously intimidating. After all, not only do they carry guns, but they also have the ability to take away your freedom. If officers suspect that you have committed a crime, they are likely to question you. Still, the United States Constitution allows you to remain silent during police interrogations.

California’s police officers receive extensive training on investigating crimes, interrogating criminal suspects and eliciting confessions. To accomplish these objectives, detectives often employ the Reid technique. If you have seen a police drama on television, you may think of this as the “good cop/bad cop” routine. Here is how the Reid technique works:


When using the Reid interrogation technique, officers usually isolate you. Seclusion is both physical and emotional. That is, not only are detectives likely to place you in a small interrogation room, but they are also apt to limit contact with family members, friends and others. Remember, though, you have a fundamental right to have a lawyer present during police questioning. As such, detectives may not prevent you from talking with an attorney.

Bad cop 

Initially, detectives may inform you that they know you are guilty of the crime. When doing so, they may reveal the existence of evidence and other incriminating facts. Unfortunately, officers do not have to be truthful when questioning you. They typically cannot, however, threaten violence or other types of harm.

Good cop 

After outlining the theory of the case and how they believe you fit into it, officers pivot to minimization. That is, they attempt to identify or empathize with you. They may tell you that they understand why you would have committed the crime. Alternatively, they may say that confessing to criminal conduct is the best way to lessen criminal exposure. These statements may or may not be true.

You have the right to remain silent during any police interrogation. Nevertheless, officers may use the Reid technique to encourage you to incriminate yourself. As such, if you expect to undergo police questioning, you should think about exercising your constitutional right to remain silent.