The Reid Technique

Today, police interrogation techniques are a dynamic field of study that continually evolves, focusing on understanding human nature and the psychology of deception. One of the most recognized and debated methodologies in this field is the Reid technique, also known as the Behavioral Analysis Interview (BAI). This technique combines elements of psychology, persuasion tactics, and behavioral analysis to facilitate case resolution, being employed by prominent agencies such as the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Description of the Reid Technique

The Reid technique is structured as a series of non-accusatory interviews that alternate between standard investigative questions and questions specifically designed to provoke responses that may indicate truthfulness or deceit. This methodology relies on careful observation of the interviewee’s verbal and non-verbal language, allowing the investigator to discern between sincere and potentially deceptive responses. It is a valuable tool in the investigator’s arsenal, designed to evoke behavioral symptoms that reveal the truth.

Effectiveness and Applications

The effectiveness of the Reid technique in resolving criminal cases is notable, testament to its refinement over the years. Interrogators trained in this technique use a set of psychological skills that, although seemingly simple at first glance, result from a complex understanding of criminal psychology. Despite criticism from some quarters comparing it to “brainwashing” techniques, its effective use in case resolution is indisputable.


Nine-Step Procedure of the Reid Technique

  1. Positive Confrontation: Starts with the investigator informing the suspect that evidence points to their guilt.
  2. Theme Development: A moral or alternative justification for the crime is offered, presented comprehensively and in a monologue.
  3. Handling Denials: The suspect is discouraged from speaking to deny the accusations, emphasizing that denials are less common among the innocent.
  4. Overcoming Objections: The suspect’s objections are used to delve deeper into the developed theme without direct confrontation.
  5. Procuring and Maintaining Attention: The investigator reduces physical distance and focuses the suspect’s attention on the dialogue and not the consequences.
  6. Handling Passive Mood: The presentation of the theme is intensified, seeking the suspect’s acceptance.
  7. Alternative Question: Two possible guilt scenarios are offered, seeking an indirect admission.
  8. Getting the Suspect to Relay Crime Details: After admission, details are consolidated through an oral review.
  9. Converting an Oral Confession into a Written One: The confession is formalized, ensuring its legal validity.

Criticisms and Controversies

Despite its effectiveness, the Reid technique has been criticized for its intensive and confrontational nature, which has led to false confessions in some cases. This aspect has prompted a reevaluation by several police departments, which seek less coercive and more scientifically based methods.


The Reid technique and its focus on behavioral analysis interviews represent a fascinating and powerful method in the field of criminal investigation. However, its application requires careful consideration of ethical and legal implications, ensuring that its use is as fair as it is effective.

This Investigator Tip was developed by John E. Reid and Associates Inc. 800-255-5747 /