LP Magazine

JUL-AUG 2019

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

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"A moment ago, you referred to this as a 'conversation,' but your written report shows that you viewed this as an 'interrogation,' correct? "I'm just trying to understand what differences you see between a 'conversation' and 'interrogation.'" "What type of techniques do you normally use when 'interrogating' someone? Would you 'interrogate' someone you believed to be innocent?" The investigator's problematic diction is evident in this example, and yet there is another critical distinction that can be used against the investigator to assert bias further. Subject versus Suspect. The language the interviewer uses to describe the person being interviewed is of equal importance. The interviewer might present the interviewee as either a "subject" or a "suspect" in case reports and witness testimony. Here again, the latter terminology can be construed as pejorative and must be set aside in favor of "subject" under the auspices of accurately depicting the interviewer as impartial. Using the same technique as before to test the implicit prejudice of these two words, two Google searches were conducted: the first "interview suspect" and the second "interview subject." Predictably, "interview suspect" returned results containing adverse inferences such as "violence," "bias," and "custodial." Interestingly, the top result also contained the word "interrogation," linking it to the previously presented term. Whereas the search for "interview suspect" revealed alarming associations, the subsequent search for "interview subject" revealed dramatically different attributes. The first page contained terms like "greet," "clearly," and "carefully." The word "thank" appeared fourteen times, and the only photo linked on the page showed someone appearing to laugh. One can easily imagine how unfriendly the witness stand might feel to the investigator who wrote about the "interrogation" of a "suspect." This experiment further highlights the criticality of word choice in framing the interviewer as having conducted an unbiased review of the legitimate facts in a criminal case. While other aspects of obtaining a fair verdict include the investigator's ability to submit a circumspect collection of evidence and a technical presentation to a jury, it is clear that an investigator's terminology has a bearing on the audience. The perception of fairness is critically important as it directs jurors to focus on the most important thing—the evidence itself. Word Selection as a Professional This case study focused primarily on how the public at large, serving in the capacity of a jury, might attribute an investigator's rhetoric to underlying motives. However, there is a much broader lesson to be learned. Society judges people by their word choices. The consummate professional seeks to present their case in a manner unconstrained by the taint of partiality attributable to language. One might dress appropriately and work methodically and deliberately, but word selection plays an equally vital role on the impressions made with colleagues, superiors, and even potential employers. Contact: Paig Parish, Executive VP Sales & Marketing at Amphion and Owner, Amphion, paig@amphion.biz, 800-520-2677 Industry Leading Key Solutions We Are Amphion W W W . A M P H I O N . B I Z | 8 0 0 - 5 2 0 - 2 6 7 7 We are the leading security integrator specializing in loss prevention and security products and service. Discover the Amphion Advantage with our National Service Program — providing 24/ 7/ 365 support within 4 hours! 25 LP MAGAZINE | JULY–AUGUST 2019

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