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NCJ Number: 66270 Find in a Library
Title: POLICE INTERROGATION AND OFFENSE FACTS - RESULTS OF AN EMPIRICAL STUDY OF RECONSTRUCTION OF AN OFFENSE BY INTERVIEWS OF WITNESSES
Journal: KRIMINALISTIK  Volume:32  Issue:12  Dated:(1978)  Pages:541-546
Author(s): W SCHMITZ; M PLATE
Corporate Author: Kriminalistik Verlag Gmbh
Germany (Unified)
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: Kriminalistik Verlag Gmbh
6900 Heidelburg 1, Germany
Format: Article
Language: German
Country: West Germany (Former)
Annotation: WHENEVER OTHER EVIDENCE IS UNAVAILABLE, THE POLICE DEPEND ON WITNESS TESTIMONY FOR THE RECONSTRUCTION OF AN OFFENSE; 28 WEST GERMAN WITNESS INTERROGATIONS WERE SIMULATED TO TEST THE RELIABILITY OF SUCH TESTIMONY.
Abstract: THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY WAS TO FURNISH GUIDELINES FOR OBTAINING RELIABLE WITNESS TESTIMONY, MAKING A TRUTHFUL RECONSTRUCTION OF THE OFFENSE, AND DETERMINING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WITNESS TESTIMONY IN THE INTESTIGATIVE PROCESS AS COMPARED TO OTHER FORMS OF EVIDENCE. THE INTERROGATIONS WERE BASED ON SIMULATED, FILMED OFFENSE SITUATIONS WHICH WERE SHOWN TO A NONPOLICE VOLUNTEER TEST POPULATION; DETAILED FILM SYNOPSES SERVED AS CORRECTIVES TO THE WITNESS-CRIME RECONSTRUCTIONS. OVERALL RESULTS EMPHASISED THE NEED TO INCREASE THE RELIABILITY OF WITNESS TESTIMONY, WHICH, IN THE FOUR SIMULATED OFFENSES USED (LARCENY, ASSAULT, FRAUD, AND ROBBERY) IS USUALLY MORE READILY AVAILABLE THAN OTHER FORMS OF EVIDENCE. THE INTERROGATIVE SITUATION ITSELF WAS FOUND TO BE ILL-SUITED FOR OBTAINING FACTUAL EVIDENCE, SINCE IT CASTS THE INTERROGATING OFFICER INTO A POSITION OF CONTROL AND SUPERIORITY WHILE THE (FIRST-TIME) WITNESS IS PERPLEXED AND DOES NOT KNOW WHAT IS EXPECTED OF HIM. DURING THE PRELIMINARY QUESTIONING, OFFICERS RELIED TOO HEAVILY ON QUESTION-AND-ANSWER FORMS OF INTERACTION, WHEREAS THE NARRATIVE PATTERN, IN WHICH THE WITNESS PRESENTS HIS OBSERVATIONS IN A COHERENT AND ORDERLY FASHION, IS ACTUALLY FAR SUPERIOR IN RELIABILITY AND INFORMATION CONTENT. THE RELIABILITY OF THE ACTUAL PROTOCOL DEPENDS NOT ONLY ON THE WITNESS' MNEMONIC AND OBSERVATION POWERS BUT ALSO ON THE OFFICER'S ABILITY TO TAKE DOWN ACCURATE TESTIMONY AND TO GIVE THE WITNESS A CHANCE TO REEXAMINE THE TESTIMONY. PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVING INTERROGATION TECHNIQUES INCLUDE HAVING THE OFFICER RECAST HIMSELF INTO THE POSITION OF THE WITNESSES, AND HAVING HIM USE MAPS AND GRAPHS TO SIMULATE THE OFFENSE SITUATION. THE ARTICLE CONTAINS FOOTNOTES. --IN GERMAN. (SAJ)
Index Term(s): Criminal investigation; Germany; Interview and interrogation; Police personnel; Police reports; Testimony; Witnesses
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=66270

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