Analysis of the Statement, Part 1
Sumpter, J. L., Law & Order
Why did the suspect say THAT word or use THAT sentence during the answer? Better yet, what did the suspect NOT say? Word use is directly tied to emotions surrounding the answers. A question that crests the surface of deception may force the suspect to use words or phrases in an attempt to cover up the truth. The use of statement analysis is an effective tool to detect these behaviors.
Statement analysis is an excellent tactic when used properly. Officers must first determine the suspect's normal language. This is done by asking questions that will result in a truthful statement. Aside from questions relating to their personal lives, it is better to ask a question closely related to the case knowing the answer will be truthful.
People tend to speak differently when there is very little stress tied to the conversation. By asking questions related to the case, the officer is putting the suspect as close to the topic as possible without the possibility of deception. This gives the officer a more accurate depiction of the suspect's language.
As the officer creates a mental note of normal communication, he will begin dissecting the topic by asking specific open questions. As the suspect answers, the officer should be asking himself some questions. Has the suspect's use of pronouns changed? Has the length of the answers changed? Are there more speech errors during stress questioning?
Pay attention if during initial questioning the suspect commits himself to the answer by using "I" but lacks it during stress questioning. There is a reason why the suspect is attempting to distance himself from the answer. The officer must pay close attention to the sentence or the area of the answer where "I" disappears. For example, "I thought she was there when I came home. I had a sandwich. Went to the store. And then we came back home." In this example, the time from making a sandwich and going to the store needs further exploring.
The use of "I" is more indicative of honesty, but when left out of a particular area, it may be done intentionally. The suspect owns a portion of the answer (truth) but lacks ownership when emotions take over. When observing for the use of "I," pay particular attention if the suspect substitutes it with "we." Why has the suspect chosen to use "we" and not completely own the answer? …