What is the chief skill necessary to be a good interrogator? First and foremost, you have to have confidence in yourself. If you have a method that you learned and studied, then go into that interrogation room believing that you’re going to go in there and get a suspect to cop out. Don’t let the severity of the crime scare you. What’s the difference between a petty theft and a triple murder when it comes to an interrogation? Nothing other than the latter has two more pieces of evidence (the murder victims). Some investigators get spooked if it’s a serious crime, or if it’s taped and/or video recorded. If you have a good method that you’ve worked on, it doesn’t matter. The technique is always the same, no matter how minor or how serious the crime. After I became comfortable with the book method I chose, I didn’t care if they had me doing it on national television with a full crowd in the Los Angeles Coliseum. One time I had a young detective trainee listen in from another room in the police station while I interviewed a parolee on a case. After I got him to cop out to the crime, I went and spoke with my trainee about it. He told me that he had tape recorded it so he could listen to it again and learn from it. When I advised him that we would have to turn over the tape to the District Attorney’s office and the Suspect’s lawyer, he was embarrassed and apologetic. I told him not to worry, because the method I used every time I interrogated was well within the guidelines of the US Constitution. So go in there and get em, tiger!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
First and foremost, you have to remember that being a PI is first and foremost a business. If you want to be successful at this over the long haul, you have to focus on this from a business standpoint. There are many outstanding police detectives who become PI’s and ultimately fail at it. They get a Private Investigator’s license, get some business cards and a letterhead printed, and get a business phone. Then they can’t understand when the phone isn’t ringing why they aren’t getting any business. I always counsel other police officers who are thinking of going into PI work that you have to learn the business end to be successful. You need to know marketing, advertising, how much to charge, where to I get information, and most important, how do you get work to come to you. One of the biggest problems I have found with retired officers is that they charge too little. This is a business that is strictly result oriented. The client doesn’t care if you have a fancy office, drive a fancy car, or wear expensive suits. Clients are motivated by one thing, RESULTS! If you get results, you’ll get repeat business.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Whether you’re doing vehicle or walking surveillances, there are certain traits you need to acquire to be good at it. The first one is patience. You may be sitting in a vehicle for four or six hours and then suddenly your subject comes out of a location and you have to react. The next important trait is concentration. You have to be focused on that residence or that vehicle, possibly for a lengthy period of time. One turn of the head, one mental lapse, and you can miss your subject and blow the surveillance. You also have to have confidence in yourself and fight off the feeling that you’ve been ‘burned.’ Although it’s hard for new people in this field to understand, most subjects are completely oblivious to their surroundings and never pay attention to a tail. Here are some tips to help you out. Whether you’re on foot or in a vehicle, try not to bumper lock the subject. You don’t have to be right behind the subject in the same lane in a car or even on the same side of the street on foot in order to follow him. Beginners at this are often paranoid and think that if the subject looks in their direction their burned. This is rarely if ever the case. Here’s my rule of thumb. One look by the subject directly at me, no big deal. The emphasis here is on directly at me. A second direct look and I have to be real careful. Now you have to decide if you want to risk a third direct look or come back another day. This will most likely depend on how many hours of surveillance the client has agreed on. A third direct look and you’re probably burned. Lastly, you learn best by doing it, so go out and do it.
Friday, July 8, 2011
I learned early on in my career that if you want to get the maximum information out of an interview, it pays to do them in person. Besides listening to the answers, you can also see the interviewee’s body language as they respond to the questions. You can’t see that in a telephone interview. Plus, just like Detective Columbo from the old TV show, when something pops into your head as your going out the door, you can ask "Just one more question." It’s hard to do that after you’ve hung up the phone. It’s also important not to leap into the interview right away. Try to find some common link that can break down the investigator/interviewee formality and make it a person to person talk. Comment on the flower garden, the military picture on the mantel frame or the caged parrot in the living room. Try to get the prospective interviewee to talk about something that interests them. I’ll talk for 10 minutes or more on something interesting in the interviewee’s house or office before I begin the interview. I’ve had bricklayers show me how to lay brick, former high school football players show me the proper 3 point football stance, and little old ladies show me how to tame a parrot. Everybody likes to feel important, and by letting them talk about something that interests them, you are building a bond. Once you segue into the interview, they're already relaxed and comfortable with you. The conversation will just flow, and so will the information.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Once when I was a homicide detective in South Central Los Angeles, we we’re handling a very difficult gang murder. It had happened in broad daylight on a residential street, but this particular gang had intimidated the neighborhood to the point where after a number of weeks we still didn’t have an eye witness to the murder. We had already canvassed the neighborhood on two previous occasions, but if you’re dead in the water on a case you go back to Detecting 101. So we went back out for a third canvass. We came to one particular house where we had already interviewed the two elderly residents. One was blind and the other one had beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Being dogged detectives, and having no other good clues to work with, we again door knocked it. When we were let into the residence, I noticed a middle aged female sitting in the kitchen. She looked towards me, and then immediately looked down at the floor. I walked down the hallway to where she was sitting and the first thing I said to her was, “You saw it, didn’t you!” She slowly looked back up and nodded her head. She identified the shooter and the other participants and we were able to solve the case. Like I said, I'd rather be lucky then good.