Reid Interrogation Technique Found to Elicit False Confessions

An article in The New Yorker magazine has taken a close look at the risk that suspects will falsely confess when police interrogators use the Reid technique—the most common police interrogation technique in the United States. The article, “The Interview,” appears in the December 9, 2013 issue.

Douglas Starr, the author, underwent a Reid & Associates training course as part of his reporting. He also wrote in the article about psychological studies of false confessions elicited through the Reid technique.

According to the article, Joseph Buckley, the president of Reid & Associates, has said false confessions may occasionally occur when police detectives deviate from their training in the technique. The article, though, describes a rape-murder of an eleven-year-old girl in which a Reid trainer, working at Reid headquarters in Chicago, helped elicit a false confession.

The article also describes a contrasting interrogation technique used throughout Britain. It was adopted there in response to a rash of false confession scandals. It trains police to attempt to gather information in an interview, much as a journalist would, rather than to focus on obtaining a confession.