Canada cops lack interviewing skills: Study

Toronto Police officers are seen taking notes at a crime scene in Toronto, July 2009. (Ernest...

Toronto Police officers are seen taking notes at a crime scene in Toronto, July 2009. (Ernest Doroszuk/QMI Agency File Photo)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:05 PM ET

Police officers in Canada are making rookie mistakes when it comes to interrogating suspects, a new study suggests.

Dr. Brent Snook, a psychologist at Memorial University of Newfoundland, led a study examining some 80 interview transcripts from a Canadian police organization and found the officers' interviewing skills weren't always up to par.

Snook sees his research's role as helping the police rather than criticizing them.

"Most intelligent police officers will say that anything I find in my research is useful to them. They can use my research to fix what they are doing," said Snook, who specializes in best interviewing practices.

"Interviewing is a complex skill and they won't do better unless they've had training properly. So this research is giving us some insight into what's going on inside of Canadian interrogation rooms with the goal of improving what they are doing."

One of the big mistakes many cops made in the interviews was interrupting suspects.

"Interrupting someone who is talking can break their train of thought and prevent good information from coming out," Snook said. "We looked at those transcripts and what we found was that investigators not trained on best interviewing practices are not giving suspects and accused persons a fair shake.

"They weren't asking open-ended questions and they interrupted suspects if they do talk. They also talk more than they allow the other person to talk, so they were not listening actively."

The study was published in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior.


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