New Tech is Changing Law Enforcement Interview Rooms for the Better
The way that law enforcement conducts interviews and interrogations has changed a lot over the years. New laws and regulations mean law enforcement agencies have to be very strategic about how they gather and record information. But thankfully, technology is paving the way for positive change.
Technology Ushers in Positive Change
Most people are unfamiliar with police interrogations and interviews. You might think you have an idea of what goes on behind those closed doors, but Hollywood doesn’t have the greatest track record for accurate depictions of reality. Unless you’ve personally been interviewed or interrogated, it’s unfamiliar territory. You may also be unaware of the fact that police interrogations have undergone some pretty significant changes in recent years – starting with how law enforcement questions suspects.
“You may have never heard of the Reid technique, but chances are you know how it works,” Eli Hager writes for The Marshall Project. “For more than half a century, it has been the go-to police interrogation method for squeezing confessions out of suspects. Its tropes are familiar from any cop show: the claustrophobic room, the repeated accusations of guilt, the presentation of evidence — real or invented — and the slow build-up of pressure that makes admitting a crime seem like the easiest way out.”
But just a couple of years ago, it was announced that Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, one of the nation’s largest police consulting firms in the nation, would stop training detectives in the method. Their reasoning was tied to the fact that confrontation has been shown to be ineffective in getting truthful information. Numerous false confessions and exonerations have shown that Reid tactics aren’t nearly as accurate as once believed.
But changes in technique aren’t the only new developments. There’s also a major shift in the technology law enforcement agencies use to conduct interrogations and interviews. These tools – which include both advanced software and innovative hardware – are being used to gather and record information, protect and safeguard against accusations of improper interviewing, and modernize archaic protocols.
A Glimpse Behind Closed Doors
The technology in this space is exciting and transformational. Innovation is happening at a blistering pace and many law enforcement agencies are still in the process of adopting and integrating best-in-class solutions.
Here’s a look at some of the top technologies and how they’re changing law enforcement interview rooms for the better:
1. Simulated Training
Investigators with years of experience can approach an interrogation from multiple angles without much effort. They can try one strategy and move on to another if it doesn’t work. They don’t get fazed when a suspect or witness acts unpredictably. They’re in complete control of the situation. The same can’t be said of rookie interrogators.
While nothing replaces being in the room and conducting an interview with a suspect, there’s tremendous value in simulation technology that trains and prepares investigators for what they’ll face when they walk into that room for the first time. THE LINK technology is one of the best and latest developments in the field.
“Investigators practice non-confrontational interviews with up to three degrees of difficulty,” explains Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, the company behind the program. “Each interview changes based on statements made by the interviewer, making every new attempt more challenging. Just like real life, the personality of the subject changes as the difficulty of the simulation increases, requiring the interviewer to compensate and counter each new reaction.”
Interactive and simulated programs like these are invaluable in the training process and help equip interrogators for real-life scenarios and challenges. They’ll likely become even more widely used in the coming years.
2. Video Recording
Most states have laws in place that require investigators to use video recording in suspect interrogations. However, not all video is created equal. Today’s interview rooms are equipped with the best technology on the market – like the VALT system from Intelligent Video Solutions (IVS).
“VALT takes advantage of high-definition IP cameras which yield high-quality audio/video recordings and are easily accessible from any PC, Mac, or mobile device on the network. Recordings can be launched directly from a device running the software, from a button outside the room, or from an access control panel,” IVS explains. “Video files are indexed and easily searchable based upon your department’s search requirements and/or any notes taken during the interview. Extensive permissions and rights allow you to segment which users have access to specific videos and features of the VALT application.”
This sort of searchability and customization is what makes the VALT system superior to a normal CCTV platform. Systems like these are also being used in child advocacy centers and other environments where video recording of interviews is a necessity.
3. Improved Audio Detection
Crisp audio detection is arguably the most important aspect of an interrogation room’s technology stack. Without proper audio, it’s impossible to prove in a court of law what has been discussed.
Audio recording devices have improved dramatically over the years. Today, it’s possible to have wall-mounted microphones that resemble simple light switches and provide low-impedance, balanced audio for crystal clear recordings. These recordings zero in on voices without hum pickup or high-frequency loss (even when long cables are run).
4. Voice Recognition Software
One of the more challenging aspects of analyzing interrogations and interviews is dictating what was said. Without some sort of voice recognition software, it’s a painstaking and error-prone endeavor. But with advances like the Ghost Writer Police Interview Room Voice Recognition system, this is no longer an issue.
“The Ghost Writer Police Interviewer 6 is a standalone digital recording system that allows you to upload a multiple-voice recording into voice recognition software and receive a super high recognition rate,” Martel Electronics explains. “After the file is in voice software, the multiple-voice recording will start to automatically type up for you. The unit is capable of getting over 96% accuracy rate under optimal conditions. It's the only system in the world that can do multiple-voice recognition to text.”
When combined with proper training, video recording, and audio, an advanced voice recognition software like this can be a game-changer for law enforcement agencies and investigative teams.
Revolutionizing the System
Interview and interrogation rooms are among the most important aspects of a law enforcement agency. It’s the place where information is revealed, evidence is expounded, and conclusions are reached. It’s in these rooms that life and death often hang in the balance.
Thus, it makes sense for agencies around the nation to invest in the best technology possible. Good things are happening in this area and the expectation is that technology will continue to improve over the foreseeable future.