Law Enforcement's Basic Bag o' Tricks
- The classic "good cop, bad cop" routine
~You'd be surprised how often this works!
- "Your friends are already cooperating. It's just
a matter of time before we figure everything out and you're
left in the cold." ~ Make sure you really know
who your friends are.
- "Your friend already told us the whole story.
Why don't you just come clean and help yourself."
- "Didn't you say that..." ~ If you've
already talked, they'll repeatedly come back and ask the
same questions in a different manner, trying to poke holes
in your story.
- "Listen, we know that you didn't really do anything.
You're just caught up and it was your friends' idea. We
just want to clear this up."
- "We can't help you until you start helping us."
- An arrestee who finds her/himself in a strange environment
during a high-stress situation is susceptible to interrogation.
- An arrestee deprived of adequate sleep is susceptible
- Offers of refreshments: water, soda, snacks. ~ A prisoner
becomes more susceptible to interrogation when s/he needs
to use the restroom.
- Threats of physical violence.
- Threats of a long prison sentence. ~ Naturally, the "good
cop" will make sure you're given leniency-- if you
cooperate, of course.
In nearly every law enforcement encounter, you are viewed
as if you are guilty, as if you have something to hide, as
if you are a criminal. Read that again. Nothing you say can
or will dissuade a law enforcement officer who is already
suspicious of you. After all, why would s/he believe you?
You are the suspect! And once you're being questioned, you're
already a suspect. Read that again, too.
It's a false hope to think that by talking to them you will
convince them that you're a nice person. All you're accomplishing
is convincing them that you're an idiot-a dupe-someone who,
when pressured enough, will begin to talk. And now they will
know to turn on the pressure.
Once you open your mouth, it's hard to turn back. It's like
trying to seal cracks in a leaking dam... once the flow starts,
it's hard to undo the damage. So be smart and strong, fortify
your position from the beginning and don't start out trying
to back-pedal uphill. Encounters with law enforcement are
intended to establish a power dynamic where you feel powerless
and without control, but the reality is that you set the tone
for your interrogation!
Remember: you can never win on their terms--. and a cooperating
(talking) suspect without an attorney in an interrogation
atmosphere is their terms. No battle is ever won by fighting
on the defensive. Don't give them any ammunition/information
to use against you or others. Any story or information you
provide, no matter how innocent it may seem, can be used against
you or others in the future, and can easily be used to trick
others into thinking that you're cooperating. Just remain
silent and request an attorney. And in the unlikely event
that you're charged, and-- even less likely-- taken to trial,
your defense will be infinitely stronger and better able to
rebuff any "evidence" against you.
Remember, don't think you can talk your way out of an interrogation
room or jail cell. Don't think you can convince law enforcement
that you're innocent. You can't! Put aside your fears and
take action that is based on calm and collected reason. It
is critically important that you refuse to succumb to your
emotions. Don't give in to fear.
Silence is ALWAYS the safest route. When you talk, you put
yourself and others at risk. Never gamble on trying to outsmart
any law enforcement officer-- never mind that lying to a cop
or a fed is a crime.
Most importantly: no matter what you do, never talk about
anyone else!!! It's not smart, honorable, prudent, or right
for you to decide someone else's fate by providing information
about others to law enforcement-regardless of how benign you
think such information might be!
A Few Basic Tips
- Better safe than sorry: it's better to say nothing and
piss off the cops than to risk saying something that can
cost you or others your freedom.
- Remain silent: you don't have to wait for your "Miranda
Rights" before you decide to remain silent.
- Request an attorney--, repeatedly, if necessary. Make
it clear that you want to speak to an attorney and then
say nothing until the attorney is present. If you request
an attorney but begin talking voluntarily after the request,
you've essentially waived your rights again.
- Don't let your irrational fears and emotions take over.
Try to remain calm and realize that things ALWAYS seem the
very worst at first.
- Understand that your situation will improve and that your
worry and fear are the weak links in the scenario. Don't
despair and never give in.
- Remember that others have been through something similar
before and survived.
- Never talk about other people.
- Silly as it may sound, try singing a song in your head
- the sort you'd rock out to while driving. Or think about
other activists or struggles that you admire and respect.
Draw strength from the experiences, trials, and triumphs