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February 2015

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in this issue . . .


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Establishing Rapport with a Suspect

By John Reid & Associates

We all know someone whom we respect and admire. It may be a teacher, coach, pastor, scout master, friend or parent. Assume that we committed a crime of some sort and this admired individual sat down and said:
"We both know you made a mistake and we also both know that the right thing to do is to tell the truth. For everyone concerned let people know why this thing happened. Did you plan this out, or did it just happen on the spur of the moment? I don't' think that you would ever plan something like this out, it was just the spur of the moment, wasn't it?"

Because of the established trust and respect felt toward this individual, we would very likely listen to his statements, nod our head in agreement, and confess that what we did happened on the spur of the moment.

 On the other hand, if the person who said these words was a stranger whom we believed was just out to punish us and did not care about our well being, reputation or self-image, we would likely challenge the individual to prove our guilt and continue to deny involvement in the offense. The difference between these two situations is that in the first the communicator has an established rapport with the suspect.

In most professional interactions (physician, attorney, therapists, investigator) rapport is defined as "a relationship marked by trust and conformity." In other words, if my doctor recommends that I get a particular medical test I will schedule the test because I trust the advice of my physician and perceive her/him as looking out for my best interests and acting as an advocate for me.

 For obvious legal reasons, an investigator should not make statements designed to convince a suspect that he or she is acting as an advocate for the suspect. However, to be effective the investigator must try to legally convince the suspect that he is someone who can be trusted and is a fair and objective person.

First Impression is Critical 

Research has shown that within seconds after meeting a stranger a strong and lasting impression of the stranger is formed. The investigator needs to be very aware of this first impression effect. Upon entering the interview room the investigator should appear businesslike but not authoritative or threatening. For this reason, it is recommended that the investigator avoid introductions containing an authoritative title such as "Detective" or "Captain." For the same reason the investigator should not use emotionally charged language when referring to the purpose of the interview, e,g, "murder", "rape", "molest."

 In a non-custodial case the initial introduction may be something like this: "Good morning, my name is Brian Jayne. Thank you for coming in to talk to me."

If the suspect is in custody, the introduction may be:

"Good morning Mr. Johnson. Last night someone took money from Jake's Liquor Store at gunpoint. I would like to ask you questions about that but before I can ask any questions I have to let you know that you do have the right to remain silent, any statement you make can be used against you in a court of law, that you have a right to an attorney and if you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided. Do you mind talking to me about this?"

Establish a Relationship with Suspect 

After the initial introduction comes the relationship-building phase of rapport. The investigator's goals are to establish his objectivity by asking non-accusatory questions and, second, that the interview consists of a question / answer format. In addition, at this early stage of the interview, the investigator wants to establish the suspect's baseline behaviors (eye contact, communication style, emotional state, etc.) and make preliminary assessments of the suspect's intelligence, ability to understand the English language, mental health, etc.

 The investigator may choose to initially engage in casual conversation with the suspect at the outset of an interview:

"Did you have any problems finding our office?"

"Did you come in on the Eisenhower?" "How bad was the traffic?

"Do you think that we are ever going to see Spring this year?"

 An especially effective technique to establish rapport with a suspect is to express sincere interest in some aspect of his life. For example, the investigator may notice a Marine tattoo on the suspect's forearm and ask when and where he served. Perhaps the investigator can comment that he attended the same high school as the suspect or lived in the same part of town. This personal attention or common experience provides valuable material to establish trust.

 At some point the investigator will spend a minute or two asking the suspect non-threatening background questions under the pretense of gathering or confirming biographical information:

 "Could you spell your last name for me?"

"What is your first name?"

"What is your marital status?"

"Do you have any children?"

"What is your current address?"

"How long have you lived there?"

"Does anyone else live there with you?"

"Are you presently employed?"

"Where do you work?"

"What school do you attend?"

"Have you declared a major?"

"Do you participate in any extra curricular activities?" 

Establishing rapport with most suspects only takes a few minutes. If the suspect is extremely nervous or has been mistreated by a previous investigator and is therefore resentful, several minutes of non-threatening background questions may be required. What should be avoided, however, is a very lengthy (30-45 minute) rapport building session. Under this circumstance, referred to as "forced rapport," suspects may feel that the investigator is trying to manipulate them by delving into personal areas such as their childhood, personal values or hobbies that have nothing whatsoever to do with the issue under investigation.

 An exception to this guideline is when establishing rapport with someone who is incarcerated. The incarcerated individual's daily routine is boring and a lengthy, non-threatening conversation with the investigator may be welcomed. Under this circumstance it is not unusual for the investigator to conduct dozens of interviews with the inmate over a period of several months.

 Another consideration for an extended rapport-building period is the suspect's culture. Some cultures consider it rude to only have a peripheral social exchange before getting down to business. Under this circumstance it may be appropriate to spend an extended time with the suspect sharing personal information about each other's families or country before addressing the issue under investigation. 

Establishing Structure to the Interview

 The investigative interview is not an informal chat with a suspect. It is structured and purposeful. This means the investigator will ask prepared questions and document the suspect's responses with a written note following each response. 

There are many benefits to taking active written notes during an interview. One of them is that active note taking slows down the pace of questioning. This creates a period of silence following each verbal response. It is during this period of 3-5 seconds that most significant nonverbal behaviors occur. This period of silence also allows the investigator time to analyze the suspect's response and make a decision to ask either a follow-up question or move to the next area of inquiry.

 Conversely, if the investigator takes sporadic notes or only starts taking written notes when the suspect answers questions about the crime, the suspect will attach special significance to the fact that the investigator decided to take a written note. This may cause the suspect to be more guarded and less forthright in volunteering information, which is obviously undesirable. 

In conclusion, establishing rapport with a suspect at the outset of an interview will be an important factor in determining the success of the interview. Rapport begins with a non-threatening and business-like introduction. The investigator then needs to establish the suspect's trust. This can be accomplished by asking non-threatening questions that appear to establish the suspect's identity or other important background information. It is also important that the investigator establish a pattern of taking written notes right at the outset of the interview.

 Credit and Permission Statement:

Permission is hereby granted to those who wish to share or copy this article. In those instances, the following Credit Statement must be included "This Investigator Tip was developed by John E. Reid and Associates Inc. 800-255-5747 /
www.reid.com." Inquiries regarding Investigator Tips should be directed to Janet Finnerty jfinnerty@reid.com.

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A Guide to Body Armor for Law Enforcement Professionals 

Police officers are on the front line of a daily war against society's most dangerous individuals. Depending on the area you work in, the severity of risks you face on each shift will vary: officers patrolling inner-city streets are more likely to encounter greater threats on a regular basis than those operating in rural areas. Despite your location, you should never be complacent – you should always be prepared.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 82 American law enforcement professionals have died this year so far. The most common cause of death? Gunfire, with 38 fatal incidents (two of which were accidental). Firearms are the biggest danger officers face in the line of duty, but knives and other sharp instruments are also prevalent.  

Body armor can mean the difference between life and death. How do you know which is best for different threats? Read on to learn more about your options.

 Guns, Knives, Needles: The Right Armor for the Job 

Police officers should have access to a wide range of body armor at all times: ballistic vests, edged blade vests, and spiked weapon vests. Each of these protects against various ammunition and weapon types, but numerous sub-types are available. Body armor is also offered in covert, overt, and covert / overt designs, ideal for high-visibility and undercover operations alike (the latter type offers the option to be worn over and under clothing as a situation demands).

 Ballistic Vests

 Bulletproof vests absorb a bullet's energy on impact, and redistribute it throughout the armor, flattening the round so it cannot tear through. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) tests and rates body armor based on the amount of protection it offers, assigning a specific level to each vest.

 Level II bulletproof vests offer protection against various common rounds, of the 9mm and .357 Magnum range. Level IIIA defends against these, as well as .44 Magnum and 9mm sub-machine gun rounds. These are classed as soft armors, and commonly worn by officers on patrol.

 Level III body armor protects against high-powered rifles, defending you from such rounds as 7.62mm full-metal jacketed types, as well as 5.56mm FMJs, 12-gauge slugs, and 30 Carbine FMJs. Vests rated at level IV are the most heavy-duty available, and typically worn by SWAT teams and officers entering situations threatening severe danger. These protect against armor-piercing gunfire, such as .30-06 caliber rounds, and feature tough plates made of steel, ceramics, or titanium.

 Edged Blade Vests

 Otherwise known as stab vests, edged blade armor is designed to stop blades tearing through to flesh and bone. These vests are made of tightly-woven Kevlar, which create friction against blades used in slashing and stabbing attacks. NIJ rates these in three levels, each designed to defend against attacks launched with varying levels of energy (the more ferocious the attack, and the bigger the blade, the tougher the armor should be). Stab vests can defend against improvised and engineered blades alike. If patrolling an area with high crime where guns are unexpected, edged blade armor may be the best choice.

 Spiked Weapon Vests 

Suspects may attack with syringes, needles, icepicks, and other improvised weapons. Whereas stab vests are designed to stop knives cutting through, spiked weapons are typically used differently, usually with a single point of impact. Spiked tips will pass through the space between threads in standard clothing, so this body armor features an incredibly tight weave to stop the weapon passing through, trapping the point.

 No Price on Life: Cost versus Protection

 In some cases, police departments might lack the budget to provide the body armor their officers so sorely need. While some lower-level vests may be available, you also need access to the higher levels to ensure protection in all situations. You may be allowed to buy your own vest, yet may be put off by the cost.

 This could be a mistake. If you find yourself wearing a level II vest while corned by suspects carrying high-velocity weaponry, a single shot could tear through the Kevlar and puncture a vital organ. Expense should be no excuse. A department should always try to find the funding to equip their officers with the protection they need, but if all else fails, you should be willing to cover the costs yourself – your life may depend on it.

 Sizing up: Finding your perfect fit

The right fit is essential. If you wear body armor which is too big or too small, you may still leave yourself exposed to danger. How? Well, if your oversized vest drops an inch or two while fired upon, the bullets may pass over the top, hitting your chest. An undersized vest may affect your freedom of movement, reducing your agility and flexibility – a serious problem if you need to run, take cover, return fire, or defend yourself against physical attacks.

 The ideal vest should reach no lower than your navel area, and should sit comfortably against the torso. To be sure you have the right size, measure your chest and height before you order, and check these against your supplier's charts. If in doubt, seek expert help.

Thanks to SafeGuard Clothing, http://www.safeguardarmor.com  , who have provided us with this free resource on a guide to body armor for law enforcement officers

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10 Things That Fuel Negative Police Image Among the Public

with Paul Cappitelli

Reprinted from Policeone.com

Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.” — Sir Robert Peel

Mantaining the positive image of the police has always been a challenge since the days of the first known police force dating back to the 1800s. With the advent of social media, this challenge is amplified exponentially. At a moment’s notice, the misdeeds of one officer can go viral across the globe without any ability to mitigate or reconcile the damage. 

Part of this is just the cost of doing business in the digital age, but what about the part of the problem that can be influenced by altering human behavior? What are the most common daily activities that officers do to fuel a negative image? 

Sir Robert Peel said, “Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.” 

As fundamental and elementary as this all sounds, I would suggest that some police leaders in this modern era may have lost sight of these basics. 

More Peel wisdom: “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”

Simply stated, it’s not what you say to the public about how good you are at policing. It’s what the public feels about the police based upon what they see every day. Whether we want to acknowledge this or not, perception is reality to the public. Here are ten behaviors that fuel negative police image which you as a police leader can minimize or even eliminate.

1. Driving recklessly and/or unnecessary speeding in a police vehicle

Since police officers are in the business of writing tickets to the public for speeding and reckless driving, it is no surprise that the citizens are incensed when they see a police car speeding by or driving erratically. The justification from the department is that speeding is necessary to get the job done. But the difference in arrival time by speeding to a call versus driving within or near the speed limit is negligible. 

Additionally, excessive speed is one of the leading causes of peace officer injury and death. A little reminder memo on this topic to the troops from the chief executive can go a long way towards both officer safety and positive image.

2. Talking on a mobile device while driving a police vehicle 

Okay, we get the fact that most states have an exemption that allows on-duty police officers to talk on the phone while driving. But how much of this talking and driving is job-related? Personal calls on patrol should be minimized. The public views this as unnecessary and they are probably right.

3. Texting while driving a police vehicle

Similar to talking on the phone and driving, texting is more egregious and dangerous, too. There is no justification for an officer to be texting and driving anytime, period. Here again, not only does it fuel a negative image, but it is dangerous as well. 

4. Not wearing seat belts in a police vehicle 

Many departments have exemptions which allow on-duty peace officers to avoid wearing seatbelts. For some reason, police officers feel that they are exempt from the law of physics as well. Any police leader who doesn't understand the importance of seatbelts in the preservation of an officer's life has his head buried in the sand. 

The public expects police officers to obey the seatbelt laws and reject the notion that police officers need to get out of the car in a hurry and therefore should not be wearing seatbelts. 

5. Parking the police vehicle in a no parking or handicap zone

Clearly there are times when a police officer needs to park the patrol vehicle in an unauthorized area. However, there is no excuse for the officer who parks the patrol car in the fire lane and goes into the dry cleaners to pick up dry cleaning or into the store to get a soda or a cup of coffee. The public views this as a blatant disrespect for the law.

6. Fueling the perception of special privilege

Many years ago, the late General Norman Schwarzkopf told a story in his book about a general visiting the troops on the battlefield during meal time. The officers and soldiers invited the general to eat at the front of the line ahead of the troops. The general went and stood in the back of the line and said that he will wait in line just like any other soldier. 

This is not only a powerful leadership lesson, but it can be applied fundamentally to the image of the police and the public. Anytime a police officer uses the position of authority to gain an advantage, the public loses some respect.

7. Accepting “police discounts”

All law enforcement agencies have policies in place that forbid the acceptance of gratuities, yet police officers always seem to find the places who are willing to offer them. There is no need to discuss the merits of this issue in depth, but it's worth mentioning as a factor of negative police imagery. 

8. Unsightly personal appearance

Beards, long mustaches, offensive tattoos, morbid obesity and any other element of unprofessional appearance create negative images. There's a reason the police academy stresses clean appearances and good hygiene. Does the term "command presence" ring any bells? 

9. Non-uniform uniforms

The word “uniform” loses meaning when departments allow officers to wear several variations of attire. Since when did baseball caps, BDUs, polo shirts, and drop-down leg-strapped holsters become acceptable uniforms? 

Certainly there are times when such attire is appropriate depending upon the operation. But wearing these unsightly so-called uniforms creates a negative image to the community. It is difficult enough to try and explain why officers must sometime revert to military-style garments, but everyday use is just fodder for police critics.

10. Treating individuals disrespectfully no matter the situation

It's tough to be a police officer and take verbal and physical abuse on a regular basis. But go back and read the job description. It says cops must rise above the abuse and “maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule.” Again, very fundamental yet a key factor in projecting a positive image.


The positive image of the police in the United States is more critical now more than any other time in recent history. Police leaders must take a step back and evaluate these negative factors and others to determine if the officers themselves are an integral part of the negative police image problem. Anyone can plainly recognize when a department may have lost its way. 

But it takes great courage to reel it back in and address all of the negative aspects that detract from the mission. It's time to grab the rudder and steer the image ship back on course. If you get lost, look at the roadmap that has served the profession for almost two centuries. He may not have had a mobile phone or a computer, but Sir Peel did have the right ideas. It's time to get back to some basics.

 About the author

Paul Cappitelli is a career law enforcement professional with over 35 years of experience. From 2007-2012, Paul served as executive director of the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). Prior to this, he served with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department (SBSD) for 29 years retiring at the rank of Captain. Paul has a Master's degree in Public Administration and a BS degree in Business and Management.

Contact Paul Cappitelli

Permission is hereby granted to those who wish to share or copy this article. In those instances, the following Credit Statement must be included "This Investigator Tip was developed by John E. Reid and Associates Inc. 800-255-5747 / www.reid.com." Inquiries regarding Investigator Tips should be directed to Janet Finnerty jfinnerty@reid.com.

 A New Association for L.E. Firearms Instructors

In January 2015, the National Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association…or NLEFIA…officially launched.  NLEFIA is dedicated to the development of professional firearms instructors from the law enforcement, military, and private sector communities.

NLEFIA provides a network of information sharing, continuing education and training, and advanced certifications.  NLEFIA was created to further the knowledge and skills of professional firearms instructors...to take them to the next level...so they can take their students to the next level. 

The leadership within NLEFIA is progressive…an Executive Director that is still active duty law enforcement and a highly experienced firearms and tactics instructor…and a Board of Advisors comprised of some of the top trainers in the nation with various backgrounds, philosophies, and training methodologies.  This diversity within the Board of Advisors will ensures NLEFIA is always on the cutting edge of information and training.

There are various levels of membership…law enforcement ($50 annually), military ($40 annually), retired LE / military ($35 annually), and private sector ($60 annually).  Membership benefits include a monthly newsletter, a quarterly publication, eligibility to attend the Annual Training Conference and other training courses, access to resources in the secure members area, access to the members forum, access to a searchable members directory for networking, access to product and service discounts, and more.

If you’re looking for an association where new instructors can go for continuing development and where veteran instructors can go to pass on their knowledge and experiences to the next generation, then NLEFIA is the organization for you.  And, while the organization is new, the leadership is not.  I encourage all law enforcement firearms instructors to check out the association website (nlefia.org) and consider becoming a member.

Jason Wuestenberg
Executive Director – NLEFIA
NLEFIA - National Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association
800-930-2953 / 


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