Training law enforcement officers to detect deception

A good overview of literature on deception detection training, and some sensible suggestions for improving training in this article from the latest issue of Police Quarterly.

Abstract:

The current study surveyed a random sample of Texas law enforcement officers (N = 109) about their training in detecting deception. Texas officers reported that their training entailed the equivalent of a 2-day, lecture-style workshop in the kinesic interview technique or Reid technique, two popular police training modules, with subsequent training more often the exception than the rule. The authors examine these results in light of previous social science research regarding officers’ accuracy in detecting deception and make suggestions for future training programs for police officers in this area.

Recommendations for training include:

  • Draw on the research literature (“In general, training appeared to neglect any discussion of social science research findings…” [p285])
  • Address myths about deception detection (current courses apparently focus on cues but not erroneous beliefs)
  • Give students plenty of practice with statements and video clips (currently lectures seem to predominate)
  • Give consistent and timely feedback on accuracy
  • Spend time on credibility assessment for victims and witnesses (current courses seem almost exclusively focused on suspect interviewing)

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