Anyone who has been in criminal defense for any reasonable amount of time has heard the name “Reid Technique.” Law enforcement and DA’s offices love it; defense attorneys hate it. The prosecution calls it getting the truth; the defense calls it coercion. But what exactly is the Reid Technique?

What most people consider the Reid Technique is actually “The Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation,” per John E. Reid & Associates. It consists of:

1. Positive Confrontation;
2. Theme Development;
3. Handling Denials;
4. Overcoming Objections;
5. Procurement and Retention of the Suspect’s Attention;
6. Handling the Suspect’s Passive Mood;
7. Presenting an Alternative Question;
8. Having the Suspect Relate Various Details;
9. Written Confession.

It is actually part six of a seven-part process designed to elicit a confession. Now, I am not going to sing the praises of the Reid Technique. Due to my knowledge of Reid, I am definitely of the opinion it is terribly flawed. But what is more flawed than the technique is its application by law enforcement and many investigators.

I have watched countless law enforcement interrogations in my career, and not one of them has contained the full use of the Reid Technique in their process. Those who have employed some variation of Reid used an abbreviated variation, have skipped the majority of the technique as a whole, and even some of the nine steps of interrogation! They spend very little time actually interviewing an individual. They rush through the behavior analysis and skip essential questions which need to be asked during an interview. Overall, law enforcement typically employs an incredibly flawed variation of an already erroneous technique, leading to false confessions and important missed pieces of evidence.

Also, many investigators rush through to the interrogation portion to elicit a confession, often skipping step two (Theme Development), which is considered the most critical step. This step is where a Suspect is provided moral justification in order for them to relax and feel comfortable with confessing. Instead, many investigators tend to rely more on the monologue as a whole, interjecting harshly (handling denials and overcoming objections) and insisting a Suspect is guilty through a process already designed not to allow the suspect to deny guilt and proclaim innocence. An important note to be made of the typical investigator’s use of Reid is they often fail to get Suspects to relate details of the alleged crime (Step Eight) and generally skip having another investigator enter at the end, choosing instead to rely on the video recording. At Preferred Intelligence, we understand the Reid Technique’s nuances because we’ve studied their material from a non-law enforcement perspective. We know how the technique should be applied, can provide detailed information to support our position, and third-party expert information detailing the technique’s flaws.

When you need a law enforcement interview properly reviewed, be sure to call Preferred Intelligence at 214-785-4504 or email us at