You could argue that the foundation of law enforcement isn’t arresting or apprehending—it isn’t even investigating.

It’s talking to people and determining the truth of any given situation.

Officers might go their entire careers without discharging their firearm, but no law enforcement officer on the job can go a single day without talking to people. Distilled to its essence, dealing with people is the nature of the job.

The need for skill

Given the importance of connecting with people, it’s vital that police officers develop a knack for it.

“The ability to interview and interrogate is a crucial skill,” says Wesley Clark, president of LIES LLC (Linguistic Interrogation Expert Services). “It sets the foundation for your investigation. Every investigation starts with an interview—witness, complainant or suspect. If you get that wrong, it can skew your entire investigation and send it into the wrong direction. Getting a truthful statement is crucial.

“In the academy, you get some basic skill level, but you don’t have to have any additional training,” he adds. “For most departments, the average is about one to four hours in the police academy, which is not nearly enough.”

Sure, there are those who just naturally get along and connect with people, but being a good interviewer is a skill that can, and should, be learned.

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