Interviewing/Interrogating for the Robbery at the Centervale Grocery Emporium

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While on patrol with the Centervale Police Department (CPD) you are
dispatched to a robbery in progress at the Centervale grocery store. You
arrive to find the suspects have fled the scene. There are several
witnesses inside the store including customers and two store employees.
Obviously shaken, they are huddled together discussing the robbery. You
know that taking witnesses’ statements is a critical piece of any
investigation because witnesses often hold valuable information about
the incident and critical evidence. Further, witnesses also have
first-hand knowledge that can be helpful in narrowing the scope towards
apprehending a suspect and the eventual successful prosecution of a
case. After calling in a Be on the lookout (BOLO) for the suspects and
their vehicle, you proceed by separating the three witnesses inside the
store in order to appropriately conduct interviews: Cashier—Connie
Cousins; Maintenance manager—Larry Sweeney; and Customer—Sally
Frederickson.

Connie Cousins, who is noticeably upset, shares that she has seen
these culprits in the store before. She states, “They have been here
before, one of them knows Larry, they seemed to know right where we keep
our cash and who may be able to retrieve it, me. The older guy had a
huge gun; he put it right in my face. He’s the one that drove the
vehicle that they came in.”

Sally Frederickson, a customer, states, “I’ve never seen these guys
before. They had a gun and seemed to want to shoot someone. I think I
can identify them if I see them again, hey, I heard one of them call
that guy (pointing to Larry) by his name. Larry right?”

During your investigation you develop a lead that another witness,
Larry; the maintenance person of the store, is related to one of the
suspects. Larry Sweeney is 80 years old and he appears mentally
challenged. You learn from a fellow employee that Larry’s mental
capacity is below the fifth grade level. You know that it is crucial
that Larry’s mental capacity, his age, as well as his potential
relationship to one of the suspects are factors that must be considered
throughout the duration of the interview process.

During your investigation you notice some communication challenges as
well as some inconsistencies between witness statements. Based on your
findings, you begin to theorize that Larry Sweeney might have been
involved in the crime. Because you have no probable cause you continue
with the investigation by gathering important information to help
determine who was involved and whose level of involvement meets the
legal elements in order to be appropriately charged.

Two hours after the incident, a fellow police officer spots a vehicle
sitting at a stoplight that matches the description of the suspect’s
vehicle. The officer observes two individuals sitting in the front
driver’s seat and front passenger’s seat of the vehicle. Based on the
information in the BOLO both individuals fit the descriptions that were
given by witnesses at the store. The officer stops the suspect’s vehicle
and detains the suspects without incident. The suspects are then
transported to the CPD for further investigation. The suspects were
later identified as, 14-years-old, Jerry Smith, and Scot Sweeney, 18
year-old-driver of the vehicle.

There are many issues that must be considered when conducting a
successful investigation. In many cases, witness statements and suspect
interrogations are critical towards successful prosecution. Because a
case cannot make it into the courtroom unless legally sound, the
importance of the legal issues in the above scenario cannot be
understated.

Tasks:

In a 9- to 10-page Microsoft Word document, develop a plan for the
interview and/or the interrogation of the witnesses and suspects in this
case scenario. Use APA in-text citations to cite external sources The
details of your plan should include, but are not limited to the
following questions:

  • Identify and discuss three strategies that could be effective in
    handling the multiple witnesses to the crime? Analyze controversial
    research and/or theory relating to interview and interrogation. Use this
    information to justify your three strategy selections and how you might
    avoid eliciting false-confessions.
  • Describe the optimum room design for conducting this investigation.
    In preparation for these interviews and interrogations create a table of
    General Questions and Specific Questions to ask the witnesses and/or
    suspects. Analyze each question and provide your rationale for why you
    would ask the witnesses or suspects each question.
  • The situation with witness/suspect, Larry Sweeney, needs to be
    handled carefully for many reasons. Evaluate this situation: will you be
    conducting an interview or an interrogation? Explain the reason for
    your decision to conduct either an interview or an interrogation. What
    strategies will you employ to effectively interview or interrogate Larry
    and uncover his involvement in this criminal case? How will your
    personal attributes interrelate with the strategies you selected?
  • Evaluate the legal implications that need to be considered when
    interrogating juveniles, the elderly, and individuals with questionable
    mental capacity. What laws, case law, and Constitutional Amendments are
    involved? Evaluate the differences between Larry Sweeney and Jerry
    Smith.
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