f. You need background knowledge about an incident (and the person interviewed) for two
(1) You need to know what questions you will ask.
(2) You need to know if someone is telling the truth, lying, or just has the facts confused.
g. One key to a successful interview is questions that are appropriate. That means the questions
must get to the point. They must stimulate recall. They must allow a person to describe environments,
conditions, and events. Pictures and sketches can be used as prompts. Do not use questions that yield
"yes" or "no" answers. The goal is to have the interviewee tell his story or describe the incident under
investigation. He should not just nod in agreement or disagreement.
Time and Location.
a. An interview or interrogation should be scheduled at the earliest possible time. You would
want to talk to a witness and get a statement while his memory is still fresh. You want to talk to a
suspect before he has had time to think of alibis or talk with accomplices. There are times, however,
when you have to delay an interrogation. You might need to collect evidence or research the suspect's
b. The length of time for an interview or interrogation varies. When scheduling a talk with a
victim or witness, it should be at their convenience. The interview should not be rushed. Likewise, an
interrogation must not have a preset time limit, or continue for so long as to suggest duress.
c. The location of an interview or interrogation is also variable. It may be at the scene of an
offense. For formal interviews, however, a victim or willing witness may be interviewed where they
would feel comfortable. This could be at their home or job, as well as at your office. You should talk
with suspects or an unwilling witness (unwilling to cooperate for any number of reasons) in a
interrogation room. You can control distractions there. There is also a certain amount of psychological
d. The room should be private and free of outside distractions. It should be furnished with only
as many comfortable chairs as required and a table for writing. The temperature should be regulated to a
comfortable level. This could prevent later accusations that a statement was made under duress.
Telephones and room decor that could cause distractions should be removed.
Use of Witnesses in an Interview/Interrogation.
a. A witness is used at an interview or interrogation for many reasons. At an interview, a
witness is used for executing the affidavit on DA Form 2823 (see Figure 3-1). In an interrogation, a
witness is needed for the rights warning waiver, and for the execution of the DA Form 2823 affidavit.