Reid Technique

Reid Technique

CRJ426 Investigative and Forensic Interviewing

Colorado State University Global


The Reid Technique has established itself as a widely used and mostly primary method of interrogation and interviewing used in police departments and law enforcement professionals at every level. The technique is a registered trade mark of John E. Reid and Associates, Inc. and more that half a million professionals have attended the company’s training program since its inception in 1974 (Orlando, 2014). Since then, the technique has been heavily regarded as an outstanding method of interrogation but it has also been heavily critiqued as well. Many contend that the technique is premised on certain behavioral assumptions that have not been supported by empirical evidence and has a high likelihood of leading to a false confession. Reid’s company fights these accusations by saying that the method is being mischaracterized and that false confessions are caused by interrogators practicing the wrong methods (Orlando, 2014).


The Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation consists of three major components: (1) factual analysis, (2) behavior analysis interviewing and (3) interrogation.

Factual Analysis

When you visit Reid’s website, there is an excerpt from the book The Investigator Anthology (2014). The excerpt is actually the first chapter of the book which defines factual analysis as “an inductive approach where each individual suspect is evaluated with respect to specific observations relating to the crime” (Jayne & Buckley, 2014). The authors, Jayne and Buckley (2014), explain that factual analysis relies on information learned about the suspect, not just information gained from crime scenes and that by applying this analysis you are able to establish “an estimate of a particular suspect’s probable guilt or innocence” (Jayne & Buckley, 2014).

Behavioral Analysis Interview

Behavioral analysis interviewing is also discussed in the first chapter. Jayne and Buckley (2014) define behavior analysis interview (BAI) as “a non-accusatory question and answer session” in which standard questions as well as “structured ‘behavior provoking’ questions” are used in conjunction to elicit behaviors indicative of deception or innocence. Reid’s company claims that this interviewing method gives objective criteria to render opinions about the suspects truthfulness.


John E. Reid and Associates, Inc. wants to make it very clear that an interview is a non-accusatory conversation and that interrogations are an accusatory process (Orlando, 2014). With this in mind, their website states that only when the investigator is reasonably certain of the suspects involvement in an investigation, should an interrogation begin; they then provide the nine steps of interrogation:

Positive Confrontation – an unequivocal statement to the suspect that the evidence indicates their guilt.

Theme Development – sympathetically placing blame for the offense on someone else or outside circumstances.

Handling Denials – discouraging the suspect from making denials in the first place.

Overcoming Objections – don’t argue with the suspect when the object to accusations and make claims to support their innocence.

Procurement and Retention of Suspect’s Attention – focus the suspects attention on the theme instead of the potential punishments.

Handling the Suspect’s Passive Mood – increasing focus on the theme and central reasons being offered to the investigator as justification.

Presenting an Alternative Question – offering alternative justifications that better fit the crime.

Having the Suspect Orally Relate Various Details of the Offense – the suspect has now admitted guilt, the investigator should reinforce that admission.

Converting an Oral Confession to a Written Confession – give the Miranda warning, don’t use leading questions and use the language of the suspect to get the written confession.


The main goal of the Reid Technique is to train investigators to figure out when a suspect is lying. There has been extensive social and behavior research showing that when it comes to making judgements about truthfulness and deception, people aren’t able to make accurate assumptions (Leo, 2013). The behavior cues that law enforcement professionals rely on are not characteristic of deception. In addition to this, there is a large population that feels that multiple steps of the interrogation process can and do lead innocent people to confess. Reid fights back on this one, arguing that it is not the method itself, but the interrogator using the method incorrectly that can lead to false confessions (Orlando, 2014).

It is hard for many to deny the guilt-presumptive nature of the technique. The whole interrogation process is based on the interrogator believing to any degree that the suspect is guilty, not on information given by the suspect. The presumption of guilt is enough for many to feel that the interrogation is confrontationally; this is then worsened by step 3 which essentially tells the investigator to not let the suspect deny the accusations of the investigator.


The Reid Technique has been a staple tool for many investigators over the last four decades. After this method was established there were many who found this method to be somewhat controversial, and with good cause. The Reid Technique can cause false confessions even if it is being used properly by the investigator. Since the inception of the technique, other methods have been established and have shown better results. Interviews and interrogations should be about information ascertain. Bad interview and interrogation processes can be minimized by breaking the current cycle of guilt presumption by acknowledging that the behavior of the suspect doesn’t prove their guilt or innocence.


Jayne, B. C., & Buckley, J. P. (2014). The investigator anthology: A compilation of articles and essays about the Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation. Chicago, IL: John E. Reid and Associates.

Leo, R. (2013). Why Interrogation Contamination Occurs. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 11(1), 193-215. doi:

Orlando, J. (2014). Interrogation Techniques. Retrieved June 08, 2020, from

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