The job of the police is to stop crime by stopping criminals. It is a real life, deadly cat-and-mouse game where the hunter and the hunted spar for advantage and success. To accomplish its goals, law enforcement can draw from a vast array of technologies, stratagems, and devices. One of the primary weapons in the law enforcement arsenal is deceit. Criminals, like most prey, are lured into clever traps set by police. The police create circumstances and situations that are designed to prompt the criminal suspect into revealing incriminating information. This is obvious in the use of confidential informants, undercover police officers, and other common police tactics. Suspects are “tricked” by police into revealing themselves. A controversial aspect of this kind of police “trickery” occurs in the interrogation context. What may police tell suspects to “trick” or prompt them into confessing? Can a police officer misrepresent the strength of the case against the suspect? Can an officer lie about the nature of incriminating evidence? Can an interrogating officer disguise his or her identity during the interrogation and pose as a family friend, priest, or someone friendly to the accused? This article will examine current police practices in the context of recent Supreme Court cases and social science findings. I will argue that certain deceptive techniques are appropriate in the interrogation context. If appropriately utilized, “trickery” of a certain type does not unreasonably increase the risk of false confessions and is an appropriate tactic in the hunting of criminals.
Miller W. Shealy,
The Hunting Of Man: Lies, Damn Lies, And Police Interrogations,
4 U. Miami Race & Soc. Just. L. Rev.
Available at: http://repository.law.miami.edu/umrsjlr/vol4/iss1/3