Why cops beat you in the interrogation room

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/10/03/why-cops-beat-you-in-the-inter.html


“Am I under arrest or am I free to leave?”

“I refuse to answer questions. I want to call my lawyer.”


Technically the question is “Am I being detained or am I free to leave.” Courts have ruled that one can be stopped briefly for questioning at a lesser level of suspicion that required to arrest you.


Anyone interested in this topic should read up on the Reid technique of interrogation, which has been responsible for a host of false confessions. Essentially, its the method a lot of police departments use not to find out what you know, but to get you to say what they’ve already decided you’ve done.

This piece in the New Yorker about Juan Rivera’s case and the state’s insistence on the primacy of confessions is really great: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/juan-rivera-and-the-dangers-of-coercive-interrogation


Surrender position, then ask for and fill up on free food and drinks. Then “Am I being detained or am I free to leave?”


that’s a bit of a loaded homonym in the title


Always. Ask. To. Speak. To. A. Lawyer.


Unless you really are guilty of something heinous. Then by all means, blab away.



Thank you. But what exactly is the surrender position?


“I surrender my firearm, officer.”

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You can ask for a lawyer, but you have to be REALLY careful to ask it exactly right. See this case: Lawyer, Dog!

The courts have sided with police in refusing to provide a lawyer to a suspect if they can pretend in the most obvious way that they didn’t understand you. It’s the epitome of bad faith in the justice system.

Now this guy was guilty as hell and should be in jail, but there are people being exonerated daily who weren’t.


A useful follow-on lesson would be: how does one actually go about finding a competent lawyer under such circumstances? In movies the suspect always demands to see his lawyer. In real life, I doubt that most of us even know how to find out. It’s not like there’s a huge yellow phone book on the shelf at home anymore. Even if there is, it’s probably several years old. And don’t even think about doing a google maps search… :stuck_out_tongue:


Just watching that video made me want to confess to… something.

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A friend of mine* was in the US Army back in the late 1980’s, where he was taught German and trained in interrogation techniques, in preparation for a lot of East German soldiers invading West Germany via the Fulda Gap, followed by a lot of Soviet tanks which we would presumably stop with tactical nuclear weapons. (Thankfully that never happened.)

He tells me that the only sensible response to interrogation is complete and utter silence, because interrogators can (and will) use anything you say against you. Anything. There is nothing whatsoever you can say to improve your situation; it will all be used to your detriment. Just remain silent, that’s your only option.

*Update: For the record, my friend is a great guy, a gentle soul, in no sense a brute or torturer. He was a young man who looked at his life and said “I need structure, and an income – the Army is a practical solution.” As I recall, he didn’t ask to be trained in interrogation – he simply did what the Army required of him. He served his term, left the service, went on to do civilian things.


Yeah, I saw the headline and thought, “Where’s the mystery? They rough people up because the cops are criminal assholes and they get away with it if they hit you where no one can see it.” Oh, the other meaning of “beat”…

I wonder if there’s a conspiracy between the writers of cops shows and the police, because almost every time on a cop show someone starts to ask for a lawyer, the cops do this whole “oh, you could do that, but then we’d have to throw the book at you. Better you just answer a few questions.” Then the person they’re questioning decides to answer the questions and they just let him go, no problem. It feels like they’re running a very effective propaganda campaign to convince people they shouldn’t ask for lawyers. (On top of the propaganda campaigns that cops are justified in bending/breaking the law, etc.)


Oh, they’ll do that too…


You better fucking believe it. Steven Bochco, David Milch, Anthony Zuiker, Dick Wolf, ect…fucking Ministers of Truth the lot of them.


Yeah. There have been times when I’ve been ambivalent about the whole ACAB thing, but reading the Fraternal Order of Police statement about Burge was not one of those times


If you know any lawyers, I’d ask them who they would call if they were arrested. They’re more likely to know the local legal profession, and who has a good reputation for criminal defence work.

Where I live, there’s one particular firm of lawyers that have a huge reputation in this area. So much so that they’re the subject of jokes about it
One such joke goes - "At the church (this lawyer) attends, they put on a production of the passion play each Easter. Well, one year this chap was an extra.In the scene where Pilate asks who he should free (lawyer)'s voice can clearly be heard shouting ‘Free Barabbas, Free Barabbas’, to which one member of the audience comments ‘That’s (lawyer) got the guilty man off with it again’ "

Safe to say, if I was ever in need of someone to represent me, I’d be calling them.


All Cats Are Beautiful?

I’ve said before and will say again, there are a few good apples, and they don’t last long in an orchard that’s rotten to the core.