I’ve sat across the table from some pretty darn good liars, some of the best I’ve ever seen, actually. And I’ve heard it all. “I loved my wife. Certainly, I couldn’t have killed her.” “I was at home knitting a cover for my Bible.” “I don’t own a gun.” “Let lightning strike me dead right now if I’m not telling you the truth, Detective Lofland.” Yeah, right. My office ceiling looked like Swiss cheese from all the lightning strikes.
But as they say, it takes one to know one, and investigators—good investigators—are some of the best liars in the business. They have to be great at fabricating tall tales in order to play “the game.” At times (the right times), they must be able to convincingly tell the bad guys exactly what they need to hear so they’ll either feel comfortable enough to spill the beans or, properly intimidated enough to the point of confessing to butchering dear old grandma last Saturday night.
Maybe I should say that good interrogators are good actors, instead. Sounds better than saying they’re good liars, right?
Jim Carrey – Liar Liar
But aren’t all actors lying to us when they pretend to be someone they’re not? Same game, different stage.
An important aspect of the interview process is the ability to accurately detect the lies flowing across the lips of the bad guys. Well, that is, the important lies they’re telling. I say “important” because almost every word that comes out of their sweet and innocent little mouths is a lie; therefore, cops need to separate the non-needed lies from the real clues.
So how do investigators know when the crooks are being less than honest? Well, here are five things (there are more, but we’ll start with these) they look for during an interview.
Liars tend to…
1. Repeat a question before answering. “Did you kill Grandma?” A pause. “Did I kill Grandma?…Nope. Wasn’t me.”
2. Their sentences are broken, or fragmented, unlike the complete sentences of a truthful person. “No…I, um…I…didn’t (a hard swallow) um…kill…dear, sweet, um…Grandma.”
3. Liars, more often than not, do not provide specific details in their responses to questions. “Where were you last night and what were you doing?” the detective asked. The heavily-muscled thug leaned back in the wooden chair and crossed his jailhouse- tattooed arms over his chest. “Home,” he said. “Weren’t doin’ nuttin.”
4. They tend to use hand gestures that are directed toward themselves, whereas truthful people normally use outward hand gestures (arm waving, pointing, etc.). For example. A liar:
Lies flowed from her red lips like last year’s honey. Slow and deliberate. She toyed with her hair, twirling the curly lock that hung over her left cheek, first winding it one way then the other. She used her right hand to pick imaginary lint from her sweater, a sweater that now had a permanent place in the young investigator’s dreams. She was as nervous as a whore in church. But her words were cold. Cold as a well-digger’s ass.
5. Liars tend to look away from the investigator during the questioning, but only briefly. Truthful people look away for longer periods of time, thinking before they answer the question. This is a movement that’s quite obvious and you’ll know it when you see it.
Not an actual liar…
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Only 30 days left until the big event!