This isn't strictly torture, but one of your earlier posts said you may be able to help with interrogation. MC has been kidnapped and they are trying to get information out of her. She is questioned in two separate instances, by a LEO and a civilian. What would the differences be in the two? MC is kind of a smart-ass and doesn't have the information they want. Would the LEO have a specific way of dealing with this? Thanks for any help you can give.
Weeeell I had to google LEO cos I am old and can not internet.
It’s a good thing I did to because well it doesn’t mean what I thought it meant. I assumed that you were referring to someone who might actually have expert training on interrogation. In reality most law enforcement officers do not.
I’ve posted this quote before but it really is worth doing it again-
“-the average law enforcement officer in the United States in their career receives between eight and fifteen hours of [suspect] interview training. What fills in the rest? People use words and techniques from popular culture and what’s trendy.”
Joe Navarro, retired FBI interrogator, emphasis mine.
Police in the UK get a little bit more training but it’s not huge. And the result is that there might not be much difference between an officer and a civilian when it comes to interrogation.
Both of them are likely to be acting based on what they’ve seen on TV.
So…..this scenario largely depends on you.
I can give you a really realistic worse case scenario, based on actual torture cases in the states by police officers. But it’s not any more realistic than the best case scenario.
I think really the deciding factors are the civilian and police characters themselves with perhaps a side in what you the author want to say about the police and treatment of suspects.
I might be wrong but the LEO acronym gave me a US vibe. I’m aware that there are a fair number of issues to do with US police departments at the moment and while I’ve got opinions I don’t think it’s my place to tell you how to handle these issues. That would be too much like telling you what your story should be.
As I see it there are….four main possible combinations. Both interrogators are against forceful tactics and torture, one or the other might think it’s a good idea, or they could both be sadistic assholes.
Psychology experiments have repeatedly shown that we tend to obey people in authority. So if your LEO is in favour of ‘pushing hard’ whatever that entails, the civilian is statistically likely to go with that even if they disagree. However if the situation is reversed the LEO will probably be able to restrain the civilian.
So this largely comes down to your LEO as a character.
Even their experience and the amount of interrogations they’ve conducted are negligible factors compared to their personal attitude to the process. Abuses aside the whole thing is likely to go better if the interrogator goes in to it with an open mind. If the LEO goes in assuming your MC ‘knows something’ the whole situation is more likely to go badly. Though not necessarily in a physically abusive way.
The truth is interrogations are a pretty shit way of getting information. Humans have terrible memories and we’re very prone to editing our own memories without consciously being aware of it.
A good police officer with a lot of experience would probably be aware of that. But a bad or inexperienced officer might not be.
There are some techniques that don’t so much help with getting information but help spot inconsistencies in a story. I get the impression that is what you’re after over a history of police torture so-
Get the MC to tell their story backwards. That tends to make any inconsistencies much more obvious when compared to the version they told forwards. Lies are difficult to keep up when someone does this.
Get one of the interrogators to write down or record everything. They’ll need to go over it all later, something that should take several hours.
Try and build a repartee with the MC. Different people do this in different ways but the basic idea is to create a congenial and friendly atmosphere, to put the suspect at ease. This will be difficult or impossible if the ‘suspect’ has been kidnapped.
This move reeks of desperation on the part of the kidnappers. Because a good investigation relies primarily on people willingly volunteering information, then on forensic evidence and only lastly on interrogations. This kidnapping has the potential to utterly ruin the trust between police officers and the public, crippling future investigations and cutting off a potential source of evidence for this one.
Additionally it’s likely to cost the police officer their job, and because they’re unlikely to gain the MC’s trust by kidnap they’re unlikely to get any information even if the MC had it. Because the stress and fear from being kidnapped would affect the MC’s memory the same way torture would (though to a lesser degree).
I think you should consider whether this scenario is something you really need for your story. It seems very unlikely to end well for either interrogator. The fact that they’re attempting it or considering it at all suggests to me that they’re not overly concerned with evidence, procedure and facts.
It makes it sound as if this LEO is a useless police officer and that paired with the desperation of the scenario does make me think ‘torturer’ is a real possibility.
Of course with a desperate and personal enough situation, something this particular LEO would risk everything even jail or death for, that doesn’t have to be the case. They’re your character, and at the moment from what you’ve sketched out everything comes down to the motives, experience and personality of the police officer.
With an inexperienced officer, someone who doesn’t necessarily know that interrogations are rubbish, you have more range to play with. They could be well meaning and genuinely mistaken- Whatever sort of motive or personality an inexperienced officer in this position has their interrogation skills probably won’t hugely differ from the civilian’s.
With an experienced officer you end up with something more polarised: either a police officer who knows this is not going to actually work but tries to conduct it properly anyway, or a probable torturer who stopped doing real police work a long time ago in favour of beating ‘information’ out of anyone whose path they cross.
In which case their style will really differ from the civilian’s. Either by following some of the interrogation techniques I outlined above or by a lot of open-handed slaps and electric shocks (probably from stun guns, Tasers or riot gear).
I….appreciate that this answer is probably a bit more open than you were hoping for. I’m perfectly happy to take more questions, let me know if you need any more help.