Cop Talk Live!

September 20, 2006 | Karin's Blog | 14 comments

Dear Officer Friendly,

Do police officers refer to each other as “cops”? Would they say
something like, “He’s not much of a cop” or “He’s a good cop”?

Yes, cops will refer to each other as cops.

Is the interrogation of a suspect done similarly to how it appears on TV
shows such as CSI?

Because of show time restraints, the interrogations you see on TV are compressed into about 90 seconds. In real life it can take hours. Here is an example of what takes place, the why’s and the how’s.

I always got all of my ducks in a row before interviewing the suspect. I would take a statement from the victim as well as any witnesses to the crime. I would also check with the Crime Scene Technician (CST), to see if there was any additional info they could provide as well as observing the scene first hand for myself. At this point I should have a pretty good idea of what took place. I would also take a folder filled with papers into the interview to make it look like a lot of work had been done and would draw statements from that folder to give the impression that it was the working file.

In an interview you want one of two things to happen: First, to get a confession so as to get a conviction. Second, if you can’t get the confession, get a really good lie that the D.A. can tear apart in court and get the suspect to sign it, or commit to it as the truth. Then, confront the suspect with your evidence and give him/her the opportunity to change their statement to the truth which brings us back to our first goal of a confession.

Actual case: An under aged teenage girl had been having sex with a 32 year old male bartender. They had a fight and he struck her in front of witnesses. Her father found out about the sex and called the cops. The girl had kept a diary of her sex meetings and told me of the two locations where they had met. One was an abandoned house he used to live in and the other was the boat of one of his friends.

The interview: I got the suspect to meet me at the station under the premise of discussing the hitting incident. I got him to talk about his old residence and the boat that he was now living on to verify her info. I also got him to state that the girl had never been to either with him. We talked about the hitting incident and I got all of this on paper which he signed including a diagram of the boat. Then I confronted him with the sex and her statement describing in detail the old house and the boat. He was panicked. We went outside for a smoke. When we came back in I again confronted him with all my info and told him how stupid he was going to look in court with this signed false statement. He gave me a full confession. I arrested him and upon booking found a bag of meth in his pocket. This guy had “IDIOT” stamped on his forehead. The whole process of this interview took me about three hours.

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14 Comments

  1. Poppy

    Hey OF,

    I hope I’m not too late to the party, but I’ve always wondered why do the bad guys say anything at all in an interrogation? I could see a mistakenly arrested person babbling everything he knows trying to convince the cops they’ve made a mistake, but a bad guy? He *knows* he’s guilty, so why not just shut up and say literally *nothing*. He’s not legally required to, right? So why do they talk?

  2. Karin

    hee hee, coz they’re dumbasses.
    Ooops, sorry, couldn’t resist that.
    Going back to revisions.
    I’ll let Officer Friendly asnwer that one.

  3. Officer Friendly

    Hey Poppy! Late? You’re the only one at this weeks party! You are correct, they have the right to be silent. However, a suspect will make a statement for a number of reasons. First, to proclaim his innocence. “Hey, I didn’t do it.” Or to establish an alibi, “I couldn’t have done it because…” Some of them actually think they are smarter than the cops and will talk their way out of it. A lot of people fear that if they make no statement at all it will be an indicator of guilt. So, they think it is smarter to make a false statement. A good investigator, however, will have his ducks in a row first and be able to trip up the suspect. If it were me, and BTW this is what I’ve told my kids should they ever be in that situation, the only thing I would say is, “I am invoking my rights. I have nothing to say and I would like to speak with my attorney.”

  4. Poppy

    “Some of them actually think they are smarter than the cops and will talk their way out of it.”

    Ah, I think this is probably the most common reason. Hard way to find out you’re not quite as smart as you thought. 🙂

  5. Officer Friendly

    And speaking to the cops is always good for dramatic effect on TV, just not very realistic. Have you ever noticed how many TV cops will rack a round into their gun just before going into the hot, dangerous scene? A real cop wants a round already in the chamber when he hits the street, so, if he should need his gun in a life and death situation, he doesn’t have to waste time racking a round. That has always driven me crazy about TV as well.

  6. Officer Friendly

    Raine – I couldn’t agree more. Cops nearly have their hands tied these days with what they can and cannot do. All in the interest of protecting the suspect so as not to violate his rights. The bad guy’s have no rules with which to play by and the cops are covered in them. The price for a free society…

  7. raine

    Another thing that interests me about the tv/film interrogations…everyone always seems very concerned about protecting the rights of the accused.

    Don’t get me wrong–I think that’s certainly VERY important (since I’d definitely want my own protected)! But do you ever get the feeling that, occasionally, it’s at the expense of the victim?

  8. Amanda

    Sometimes it seems like alot of work to put the scumbags away, just so they get back out again and do their dirty deeds all over again. That’s why there is so much burnout for cops. It is an endless, thankless job.

  9. Lynne

    This is fascinating. I lurk all the time, reading Officer Friendly’s posts, and I just wanted to say how much I enjoy this. Not only is it a great glimpse into human nature, but it also gives me a LOT of ideas for writing. Thanks! 🙂

  10. Karin

    Lynne, so glad you’re enjoying OF. He is a great resource and really humanizes the job. I keep encouraging him to give y’all some good dirt, but he’s being shy. Maybe if someone specifically asked him for some specific dirt he may relent.
    Maybe.

  11. Officer Friendly

    Lynne, thanks for dropping by. I’ll try to keep it interesting. Babe, everyone knows there’s no dirt to talk about…

  12. Karin

    umm, Officer Friendly, please don’t call me babe, my husband might kick your ass.

  13. Edie Ramer

    Hi Officer Friendly, I read about so many woman being killed by their abusers when they finally get up the nerve to leave them. It doesn’t seem that there’s anything they can do, except leave the state and live under an assumed name. What are any effective steps you think a woman should take? Besides killing him first. 👿

  14. Officer Friendly

    Great question, Edie. Look for your answer in this weeks addition of “Cop Talk”.

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