Can you identify the real-world interrogation tactics TV detectives use to bag bad guys?

By: Start TV Staff     Posted: March 6, 2023, 2:23PM
The lights are dim, the suspect is seated in a less-than-comfortable chair, and the detective is pacing across the tiny, concrete room. We've seen this play out on TV with detectives like Sam Waters (Profiler) or Brenda Leigh Johnson (The Closer). The suspect has been asking for a glass of water for an hour, but won’t confess to their role in the crime at hand. They demand their beverage again when – 

SLAM! Hands on the desk, a cold stare right in the eyes, a jaw locked and furious. “Not until I get some answers. I get the truth, you get your water. Start talking.” 

These are the tactics that writers take from real-life interrogations and implement into our favorite crime dramas. Let’s test your knowledge — can you identify the different interrogation tactics that our leading detectives use to bag the bad guys?
  1. This tactic is based on implanting an idea in the suspect’s head. It relies heavily on the willingness of a suspect to accept the leads an interrogator is giving them. These are often assumptions framed as questions, to which the suspect answers “yes” or “no.”
  2. This technique involves the use of substances in an interrogation. Its use been noted as one of the most ineffective ways to gain a confession, as it can impair the suspect’s ability to make any sort of truthful statement due to their mental incapacitation.
  3. This tactic uses falsehoods to lead the suspect into confessing the truth. This method can be built upon to back a suspect into a verbal corner, extracting the lies that the suspect is telling and using these to build the interrogator’s case.
  4. This tactic has two possible ways to execute. Both attempts aim to use the character traits of the suspect against themselves. In the first version, the use of flattery and compliments guide the suspect into a confession. In the second version, the use of insults and belittlement shame the suspect into a confession.
  5. This tactic can be used alongside many others. While the interrogation is taking place, one of the investigators may be carefully watching the suspect being questioned, keeping an eye on their body language and their patterns of speech as they answer each question.
  6. This tactic emphasizes the potential consequences of the suspect's actions. By reminding the suspect of the events that could follow their silence, the interrogator scares a confession out of the suspect by inflating the possible outcomes of the suspect’s lack of cooperation.
  7. This tactic involves at least two interrogators. One interrogator will intimidate, shame, and mock the suspect, which the other interrogator will sympathize and protect the suspect, oftentimes acting as a savior from the harshness of their colleague.
  8. This tactic limits the impact that the suspect had on the crime. The interrogator will often give credit of the crime to someone or something other than the suspect, depleting their importance in the act and insinuating that the suspect had little to no effect on the case.
Can you identify the real-world interrogation tactics TV detectives use to bag bad guys?

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