This week on the Writer's Detective Bureau, ruses, brought in for questioning, and recording gaps. I'm Adam Richardson, and this is the Writer's Detective Bureau.
Welcome to episode number 62 of the Writer's Detective Bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime-related fiction. This week, I'm answering your questions about when cops are allowed to lie, what it really means when you're brought in for questioning, and what happens when there are gaps in the recording of an interrogation.
But before we get into that, as always, I need to thank my Gold Shield patrons. Debra Dunbar from debradunbar.com, C.C. Jameson from ccjameson.com, Larry Keeton, Vicki Tharp of vickitharp.com, Dharma Kelleher of dharmakelleher.com, Chrysann, Jimmy Cowe of Crimibox, and Larry Darter for their support.
I'd also like to thank all of my Coffee Club patrons for their support every single month. Your support keeps the lights on in the bureau, and you can find links to all of the writers supporting this episode in the show notes at writersdetective.com/62, and to learn about setting up your own Patreon account for your author business, visit writersdetective.com/patreon, P-A-T-R-E-O-N.
So when I was talking about not tolerating lying, I was specifically talking about, number one, on the stand or anytime you're providing testimony or a sworn affidavit, like when you're swearing out a search warrant or an arrest warrant. Yeah, even in writing a police report, especially when it comes to what you personally did or saw as a police officer. Police reports are never going to be perfect, and when errors arise in a police report, it's usually the result of statements given by the people being interviewed.
So we write our reports based upon what we believe to be true at the time. So if a witness or a victim lies to us, that lie is going to end up in the police report, but under no circumstances should an officer knowingly put false information into a report. Number two, in any official capacity within your department or chain of command, like in reporting to your supervisors or filling out your timecard.
I say official because we're still talking about a workplace here. If we're planning a surprise birthday party for a coworker, I'm not going to be the party-pooper. I'm going to lie right to his face when he asks what I'm doing this weekend just like any of us would really do. But if it turns into something official, like whether I'm available to respond in to work, uh, well, then sorry, buddy. I'm not going to be making it to your party anyway.
All right, so let's talk about when we can lie or use a ruse. Let's get this first urban myth out of the way right now. I do not have to tell you I am an undercover cop. Now, I'm not allowed to entrap you. Meaning, I'm not allowed to entice you into committing a crime you had no intention of committing. I can't plant that seed. But if we're sitting in a bar and having a friendly conversation, and you confide in me that you murdered someone, or you trust me to become a drug dealer for you, then no. I can definitely lie about my identity and yes, lie about my being a cop.
Now, next. Much more commonly, I can legally use a ruse, which is legalese for "pull some shenanigans" in an interview or an interrogation. The US Supreme Court landmark decision Frazier versus Cupp, C-U-P-P, in 1969 and in subsequent case law allows for voluntary confessions to be admissible in court, even if deceptive tactics were used to obtain those confessions.
So I can lie to you and tell you that your coworker told me what you did when in fact I haven't talked to her. I can tell you I have your fingerprints at a crime scene when I really don't. I can tell you that your co-conspirator is in the next interview room giving you up for your role in the robbery, even if we haven't really found him yet.
I've talked before on this podcast about using strategy in an interrogation. So if I'm going to use this ruse, this bluff, I have to be damn sure it's not going to backfire. If this really is the guy, and I tell him I have his fingerprints, but he knows he wore gloves, then he knows I'm lying and that this whole interview is just a fishing expedition. It means my interview just died because I revealed that it's a bluff, but sometimes that bluff is all we have... Continue reading...
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