5 Tips For Officers In Use Of Force Interviews (Part 2)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Part 2 of a 2-part series

In a previous Force Science News, Dr. Ed Geiselman, an internationally recognized authority on interviewing techniques, offered 5 critical reminders for investigators on how to elicit accurate and comprehensive statements from involved officers and eyewitnesses in OISs and other use-of-force cases.

But what it you’re an involved officer being questioned by an investigator who doesn’t understand or adhere to these “best practices” for fair and impartial interviewing? What can you do to protect yourself from bias or ineptitude on the part of your questioner?

First, of course, you need to be knowledgeable about the methods of proper interviewing. So take time to review Geiselman’s pointers in Part 1 of this series before heading into the interview room. Then you’ll be better equipped to recognize if and when your interviewer employs undesirable tactics—and prevent yourself from inadvertently cooperating in sabotaging your own statement.

Beyond that, Geiselman offers the following advice. These are lessons the UCLA psychology professor has drawn first-hand from analyzing officer interviews as an expert witness in disciplinary hearings and as a faculty member of the certification course in Force Science Analysis. They represent his observations from a behavioral science perspective but you should check with your attorney for his guidance from a legal-strategy standpoint.


  1.  Request a delay.

    As explained in Part 1, fatigue can contribute significantly to memory “failures,” including incomplete and disorganized recall, inconsistencies, delayed recollections, and the inability to adequately articulate your thoughts. “If you’re tired and overly stressed, you’ll also be more susceptible to suggestion, intimidation, and biased questioning by the interviewer, Geiselman says.

    “Yet many departments still require that officers submit to detailed questioning immediately after a shooting or other critical incident, even though in some cases the involved officer has been awake for 36 hours or more.” In contrast, the Force Science Institute recommends a delay of 24-48 hours, including at least one good sleep cycle, before a detailed statement is required from an involved officer after a major force event.

    “If you believe that you are not in a frame of mind to perform adequately in a full investigative interview because of lingering stress and/or sleep deprivation, request a delay,” Geiselman counsels. “Don’t ignore or minimize your mental and physiological state in an effort to appear strong in the face of potentially negative factors.

    “If the request is denied because of department policy, you can then state at the outset of the questioning that you have asked for a postponement and why. Having that in the record may prove valuable later in helping to explain shortcomings in your memory.”

    (For a report on the connection between rest and memory, based on a research study Geiselman conducted, see a previous Force Science News. Click here to read it.)

  2. “Interview” yourself, using cognitive techniques.

    “Become familiar with the memory-enhancement elements of cognitive-style interviewing and use them to help recollect what happened during the force incident,” Geiselman suggests. “You can ‘interrogate’ your own memory both before and during the interview itself.”

    Some of these techniques were described in Part 1. They include a full-sensory reconstruction of the circumstances surrounding the incident…thinking about it in detail “frame by frame”…trying to remember what happened in reverse order as well as forward order…looking at the scenario from the different perspectives of people at the scene, etc.

    “All these can often surface details that may elude you if you try just to verbally recite the bare basics of what you think happened in sequence,” Geiselman says.

    “It’s good to start by getting a picture in your head of what was going on before the incident erupted. Mentally and emotionally put yourself back there in the moment. Slow down your thinking and take time to remember as much about the experience as you can. Concentrate on being as complete as possible, rather than just hitting highlights.

    “Ideally, you want to give as thorough a report as possible in your the first session with an interviewer so you don’t have to make corrections later, and this approach can help.”

  3. Communicate your concentration.

    “Let the interviewer know when you are taking time to concentrate on responding to his or her questions,” Geiselman advises. “This will free you from feeling pressure to give immediate answers in order to appear truthful.

    “Sometimes memories are difficult to retrieve, and the mannerisms and body language of concentration, such as long pauses, deep breaths, and breaking eye contact, may look like the classic indications of deception if the interviewer doesn’t realize you are focusing intently on recollecting.

    “If you consciously struggle to avoid these natural reactions to deep concentration in order to maintain an artificial appearance of truthfulness, you’re devoting your energy to the wrong priority and you may be bypassing opportunities to surface important buried memories.”

  4. Take the initiative to make the record complete.

    “Be sure to address critical issues in your statement if the interviewer fails to do so,” Geiselman says. “Your initial feeling may be to shut down and say little beyond what you’re asked, but in some cases it maybe to your advantage to get information that’s neglected into the record.

    “In particular, comment spontaneously on your state of mind throughout the incident. This would include your understanding of any advance information you were given by dispatch or other sources.

    “Also comment on your threat assessment throughout the encounter. Include elements of your training and experience which were triggered in your mind by the circumstances as they unfolded.”

  5. Above all: Don’t speculate.

    “Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your own perceptual and memory systems,” Geiselman urges. “Inevitably there will be aspects of the event that you didn’t see or hear, and your memory will be imperfect. No one can remember everything or recall all that they do ‘remember’ accurately. That’s a human reality.

    “Don’t hesitate to state, ‘I don’t know,’ and then maintain that you do not know throughout the interview if that is the truth. However, it’s important to spontaneously correct inconsistencies and offer additional recollections as they come to mind without delay. The sooner errors are corrected or missing elements legitimately supplied, the less likely these alterations will be viewed with suspicion.

    “Above all, do not speculate, guess, or fill in gaps of memory with what you think ‘might’ or ‘must’ have happened, even if pressed implicitly or openly by the interviewer to do so. This is quicksand too dangerous to venture into.”

[For information on instruction and consultation about interviewing techniques, Dr. Geiselman can be reached at: geiselma@psych.ucla.edu. Also see the authoritative text, Memory-Enhancing Techniques for Investigative Interviewing: The Cognitive Interview, by Geiselman and Dr. Ronald Fisher.]

Leave a Reply


  • Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Effective date: January 06, 2019

Force Science Institute, Ltd. (“us”, “we”, or “our”) operates the https://www.forcescience.org/ website (hereinafter referred to as the “Service”).

This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data when you use our Service and the choices you have associated with that data. Our Privacy Policy for Force Science Institute, Ltd. is based on the Privacy Policy Template from Privacy Policies.

We use your data to provide and improve the Service. By using the Service, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy. Unless otherwise defined in this Privacy Policy, the terms used in this Privacy Policy have the same meanings as in our Terms and Conditions, accessible from https://www.forcescience.org/

Information Collection And Use

We collect several different types of information for various purposes to provide and improve our Service to you.

Types of Data Collected

Personal Data

While using our Service, we may ask you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you (“Personal Data”). Personally identifiable information may include, but is not limited to:

  • Email address
  • First name and last name
  • Phone number
  • Address, State, Province, ZIP/Postal code, City
  • Cookies and Usage Data

Usage Data

We may also collect information on how the Service is accessed and used (“Usage Data”). This Usage Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol address (e.g. IP address), browser type, browser version, the pages of our Service that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

Tracking & Cookies Data

We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our Service and hold certain information.

Cookies are files with small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a website and stored on your device. Tracking technologies also used are beacons, tags, and scripts to collect and track information and to improve and analyze our Service.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our Service. You can learn more how to manage cookies in the Browser Cookies Guide.

Examples of Cookies we use:

  • Session Cookies. We use Session Cookies to operate our Service.
  • Preference Cookies. We use Preference Cookies to remember your preferences and various settings.
  • Security Cookies. We use Security Cookies for security purposes.

Use of Data

Force Science Institute, Ltd. uses the collected data for various purposes:

  • To provide and maintain the Service
  • To notify you about changes to our Service
  • To allow you to participate in interactive features of our Service when you choose to do so
  • To provide customer care and support
  • To provide analysis or valuable information so that we can improve the Service
  • To monitor the usage of the Service
  • To detect, prevent and address technical issues

Transfer Of Data

Your information, including Personal Data, may be transferred to — and maintained on — computers located outside of your state, province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ than those from your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside United States and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the data, including Personal Data, to United States and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

Force Science Institute, Ltd. will take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure that your data is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy Policy and no transfer of your Personal Data will take place to an organization or a country unless there are adequate controls in place including the security of your data and other personal information.

Disclosure Of Data

Legal Requirements

Force Science Institute, Ltd. may disclose your Personal Data in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to:

  • To comply with a legal obligation
  • To protect and defend the rights or property of Force Science Institute, Ltd.
  • To prevent or investigate possible wrongdoing in connection with the Service
  • To protect the personal safety of users of the Service or the public
  • To protect against legal liability

Security Of Data

The security of your data is important to us, but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Data, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

Service Providers

We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate our Service (“Service Providers”), to provide the Service on our behalf, to perform Service-related services or to assist us in analyzing how our Service is used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Data only to perform these tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use it for any other purpose.


We may use third-party Service Providers to monitor and analyze the use of our Service.

  • Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google uses the data collected to track and monitor the use of our Service. This data is shared with other Google services. Google may use the collected data to contextualize and personalize the ads of its own advertising network.You can opt-out of having made your activity on the Service available to Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on. The add-on prevents the Google Analytics JavaScript (ga.js, analytics.js, and dc.js) from sharing information with Google Analytics about visits activity.For more information on the privacy practices of Google, please visit the Google Privacy & Terms web page: https://policies.google.com/privacy?hl=en

Links To Other Sites

Our Service may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.

Children’s Privacy

Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 18 (“Children”).

We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from anyone under the age of 18. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your Children has provided us with Personal Data, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Data from children without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Changes To This Privacy Policy

We may update our Privacy Policy from time to time. We will notify you of any changes by posting the new Privacy Policy on this page.

We will let you know via email and/or a prominent notice on our Service, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “effective date” at the top of this Privacy Policy.

You are advised to review this Privacy Policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us:

  • By email: support@forcescience.org
  • By visiting this page on our website: https://www.forcescience.org/contact
  • By phone number: 866-683-1944
  • By mail: Force Science Institute, Ltd.