Cognitive Interview Technique: The Cognitive Interview focuses on two primary components: memory and communication. Only if both of these components are recognized and considered will a successful interview take place. Created by Dr. Ed Geiselman and Dr. Ronald Fisher, the Cognitive Interview technique provides a scientifically validated and field-tested method for maximizing both of these essential components during post critical incident interviews.

Investigative Strategy Checklist: The checklist associated with conducting a specialized force investigation, involving a peace officer that is afforded rights specific to law enforcement, has been created in an effort to establish a flow of questioning, not to mute the interview process. This checklist is carefully constructed to be a living document and to be manipulated based on the fundamentals of the investigation you are conducting.

Objective Reasonableness: From an investigative perspective, Objective Reasonableness and the Objective Standard are the clear foundation used to establish objectivity or appropriateness related to a critical decision; The caveat is we are tasked with investigating the subjective nature of decision-making under the pressure and stress of extreme consequences. The objective process is considered hind-sight analytics in any force investigation. This is based on the fact that officers are experiencing deep limitations based on focus of attention issues, when compared to or gauged by video, other witnesses or others involved.

Officer Interviews: The forensic evidence will tell us what happened, but only the involved officer(s) can tell why it happened the way it did. Officers involved in use of force and other critical incidents occupy a unique space in the criminal justice system. Within the same incident they may be witnesses, victims, and/or suspects all while operating under the color of their authority as law enforcement officers. Understanding how to effectively navigate the challenges this presents to you as an investigator or interviewer will be critical to the success of your investigations.

Assumptions and Fallacies in Interviews: Many of the skills and abilities we have honed as investigators over the course of our law enforcement careers can actually work against us when we are attempting to interview officers who have been involved in a critical incident. Things like knowing all the available ‘facts’ of a case prior to conducting the interview, controlling the direction of the interview, nailing down statements, or even just asking questions that you believe are pertinent to the case can actually alter an officer’s memory of the event and create statements that are inconsistent with the officer’s actual experience.

Developing Lessons Learned: The discovery of “lessons Learned” is the principal component in the development of departmental training. This is the primary purpose for an investigative analysis; However, it is not the only purpose. Departments differ dramatically in cultural matters; Therefore, the purpose of conducting an investigative analysis must be defined and an overarching strategy must be considered based on each department’s cultural concerns.

Creating Use-of-Force Training and Analysis Units: The development of a specialized unit, designed specifically to engage in officer involved critical incidents is imperative. Most departments, large and small, do not focus on the special elements of officer performance and decision-making when investigating or analyzing a critical use of force, which involves a critical decision. This aspect of the investigative process requires specialized knowledge of performance issues; including limitations, the officer’s experience and the officer’s training relative to these critical incidents.