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maggi90w1
12-31-2010, 04:11 PM
So, one of my characters wants to find out if someone is a traitor and I have no idea how he's going to do this.
Those of you who know a bit about police work: are there any tricks or techniques he could use to make that person tell the truth?
The character in question is quick-tempered but not cruel. He might get rough but I don't think he would use real torture (you know, the ripping-your-fingernails-off kind).
Any advice?

alleycat
12-31-2010, 04:38 PM
There are a number of books on actual interrogation techniques. And a number of techniques to tell if someone is telling the truth or not.

It's hard to offer suggestions without knowing more about the characters in question (for example, is the person being interrogated an amateur or a trained professional, is he frightened or a hardened criminal, is he a loner with little to lose or is there a carrot and stick that could be used to get him to talk, has the suspect actually been taken into custody, etc.).

Could you tell us just a little more about the situation and setting. You don't have to go in to a lot of detail, just enough that we have a clearer picture.

Rowan
12-31-2010, 05:17 PM
So, one of my characters wants to find out if someone is a traitor and I have no idea how he's going to do this.
Those of you who know a bit about police work: are there any tricks or techniques he could use to make that person tell the truth?
The character in question is quick-tempered but not cruel. He might get rough but I don't think he would use real torture (you know, the ripping-your-fingernails-off kind).
Any advice?

I need to know more about your MC. Is he a LEO or military or ?? A lot depends on where he works, etc.

As Alleycat pointed out, there are many interrogation methods and most LEOs are required to attend these courses.

This is a BIG one: http://www.reid.com/

Parametric
12-31-2010, 05:31 PM
You should watch Burn Notice. They've done some fascinating interrogation techniques, like pretending to be a fellow prisoner to earn the victim's trust, pretending to kill somebody offscreen to terrify the victim, etc.

maggi90w1
12-31-2010, 05:59 PM
Could you tell us just a little more about the situation and setting. You don't have to go in to a lot of detail, just enough that we have a clearer picture.
Ok, first, the setting is urban fantasy and it's about a secret war between several magical fraction. Both characters are mages but their kind of magic isn't useful in this kind of situation.
The interrogator isn't a police officer or any other kind of professional but he has some experience and was probably trained "unofficially".
The suspect is a 18 year old boy who's usually quite reckless, but scared and slightly injured at the moment.
They used to work together. The interrogator thinks that the boy sold information about him to someone else and he want's to find out a) if it's true b) how much information he gave away c) who else might be involved.

Orion11Bravo
12-31-2010, 09:17 PM
You could have your MC tell the traitor a "secret" and see what he does with the fake information...see where that secret leads to...hopefully a trap of the sort that proves the traitor a traitor.

Drachen Jager
12-31-2010, 09:22 PM
If he's up on the latest research he'd know that even judges, cops and other people who supposedly can tell the truth from a lie are 50/50 on detecting lies when they can see a person's face. People have about a 70% success rate at detecting a lie when listening to audio only.

Maybe a little too esoteric but the face is too hard to read (in spite of what Lie to Me would tell you) the truth is in the voice.

Rowan
12-31-2010, 09:23 PM
Ok, first, the setting is urban fantasy and it's about a secret war between several magical fraction. Both characters are mages but their kind of magic isn't useful in this kind of situation.
The interrogator isn't a police officer or any other kind of professional but he has some experience and was probably trained "unofficially".
The suspect is a 18 year old boy who's usually quite reckless, but scared and slightly injured at the moment.
They used to work together. The interrogator thinks that the boy sold information about him to someone else and he want's to find out a) if it's true b) how much information he gave away c) who else might be involved.

The oldest technique in the book is the bluff (where the interrogator lets on that s/he knows of the bad guy's complicity in some crime), and of course the threat. The implication puts then on guard and the threat pushes them over. :) As your suspect is 18, I'd say both will work in this situation.

Have your interrogator focus on the boy's body language, etc.

I got a lot of druggies to "confess" just by pretending I knew something I didn't. For example, if they made a phone call, I acted like I'd pulled the tolls, etc. (simple example, but I'm sure you get the gist).

WalkingContradiction
01-01-2011, 03:16 PM
Here's how it's done in Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment' (with some things added):

1. Talk about trivialities in a way which suggests hidden meaning and knowledge of treacherous activities. The suspect becomes scared, and it increases suspense. (Unfortunately, this is much more effective if you're in the accused's POV.)

2. Talk about something else entirely, something unconnected to the whole situation that the suspect cares about and is knowledgeable about. He'll rejoice in talking about it, relieved that it appears as if he hadn't been found out.

3. Out of the blue, hit him right in the face with a blunt question. Stare at his face. For instance, 'he turned sharply, looking into his face, "Why did you sell information to X?"' The reaction and facial expression should be very revealing. Or even better, have someone hidden in the interrogation room, with a view on the suspect's face. The interrogator can then talk to the suspect without looking at him, so the suspect will let his defence down and his reaction to the questions will be even more revealing.

4. Apply pressure, ask questions. Try to fool him by suggestively asking him things he couldn't possibly know if he weren't the traitor. For instance, let's assume the suspect frequented a certain location. It's assumed that information had been given away to a spy on Saturday evening in that location. The suspect of course denies to have been there Saturday, yet freely admits to have been there Friday (because there might have been witnesses, and why should he withold information that doesn't discredit him, this would just make him more suspicious). So now, ask something like 'when you were there on Friday, did you see how the fakir outside was performing his tricks?' In fact, the fakir was only there on Saturday, and in order to sound trustwhorty, the suspect might admit it, mistakenly merging memories and inconspicuously thinking it was Friday when the fakir was there. If the suspect agrees to having seen the fakir, and even adds details, then you caught him lying!

5. Once he admits to having sold secrets, just threat him, and grant him less severe punishment if he tells the whole story. He should be psychologically crushed by now from all the intimidating questions anyway.

sf.writer.mdk
01-22-2011, 11:46 AM
If any type of drug is involved you could have them both partake of it in a friendly manner, and the person being interrogated could tell the truth. Possibly, because of paranoia.

RJK
01-22-2011, 05:57 PM
The interrogator should know as many facts as possible before he begins questioning. At first, don't ask any questions you don't already know the answers to. Ask open ended questions, allowing the suspect to amplify his answers. From these amplified answers, ask more questions until you've pinned him against the truth.

You begin the interrogation by making the suspect think you know more than you do, by asking the questions you know the answers to. This makes him think you know everything, and you're just making him confirm the information. This works especially well with young, inexperienced suspects.