POLICE Magazine

SEP 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

Issue link: https://policemag.epubxp.com/i/1022864

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Page 72 of 136

70 POLICE SEPTEMBER 2018 firmative answers require follow-up questions about what treat- ment and/or diagnoses the subject has received. 6 INJURY. A suspect's history of head trauma is often raised in mitigation. To this end, it is important to inquire as to whether the suspect has ever suffered loss of consciousness or head trau- ma of any kind such as concussions, sports injuries, injuries from physical altercations, or injuries from motor vehicle accidents. A corollary to head trauma is a complaint of amnesia. It is not uncommon for disingenuous suspects to have very little, if any, memory of their behavior during the commission of the offense but retain an exquisite memory of their behavior and actions leading up to and following the offense. When confronted with a suspect who is claiming amnesia, it is critical that the investiga- tor explore whether the suspect has ever had any other similar experiences and/or periods of memory loss. It is also important to extract from the suspect as much information as possible re- garding his or her pre-offense and post-offense behavior. e more detail a suspect volunteers, the less likely it is they will have a legitimate claim of suffering from amnesia at the time of the offense. 7 TIMELINE. It is imperative to preserve the suspect's account of his or her behavior during the days, hours, and minutes leading up to, during, and following the offense. Regardless of the po- tential presence of a mental impairment, it is crucial for the in- vestigator to secure a detailed account/timeline of the suspect's actions during the time period in question. 8 WHY. Why and why now? ese two questions are fundamen- tal to understanding an offender's thought process at the time of the offense. Sometimes the answer is cogent, sometimes it is il- logical, and sometimes no explanation will be offered. All too often, little effort is made to understand what drove the suspect to act in the manner that he or she did at that particular time and on that particular day. Striving to understand what mo- tivated the offender—and what prompted him or her to act at that moment in time—helps not only to advance the investigation but also assists those persons tasked with prosecuting or defending the case. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for otherwise competent and well-trained investigators to ignore and/or fail to ask follow- up questions of the suspect who is exhibiting overt signs of men- tal illness. Similarly, opportunities may be missed when only subtle signs of mental illness are present. In both instances, the fact pattern of the offense can, on occasion, trigger questions about a suspect's mental health history. is is the case when a suspect is brought in for questioning regarding a truly bizarre of- fense, yet the investigator fails to appreciate that based on the of- fense alone he or she may be dealing with a person who is seriously mentally ill. Investigations focused on extracting a confes- sion at the expense of collecting other relevant data, particularly data pertaining to a suspect's mental health, should be avoided. Some investigators may fear that inquiring about a suspect's mental illness would open a proverbial Pandora's Box. Other in- vestigators may be apprehensive that questions they ask about mental illness could give the suspect license to claim a condition and/or symptoms that they may not have endorsed otherwise. To be sure, this sort of "interrogation with blinders" is in no one's best interest. But contrary to popular belief, successfully feigning mental illness is no simple task. It may be easy for some defendants to fake the content of a mental illness, but it is exceedingly dif- ficult to fake the process. Moreover, so long as the interrogation is video recorded, the integrity of the process will remain intact, thereby giving all par- ties an opportunity to observe the suspect's contemporaneous responses to questions related to his or her mental state at the time of the offense. Steven E. Pitt, D.O., was a forensic psychiatrist and president of Steven Pitt & Associates. He was also a clinical associate profes- sor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine- Phoenix and a consultant to the Phoenix Police Department. Erin M. Nelson, Psy.D., is a forensic and clinical psychologist. Nelson is an associate professor of medical education at the Texas Christian University/University of North Texas Health Sciences Center School of Medicine and an associate professor of psychiatry and bioethics and medical humanism at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix. Nelson is also a consultant to the Phoenix Police Department. Her e-mail is drerinmn@gmail.com. Lt. Bryan Chapman is an 19-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department. He is currently assigned to the Phoenix Regional Po- lice Academy as an executive officer/basic training lieutenant. He previously served in the homicide unit, missing & unidentified per- sons unit, and as a field training officer. Ian Lamoureux, M.D., is a forensic psychiatrist in Scottsdale, AZ. He received his medical doctorate from the University of Arizona, completed his residency training at the Mayo Clinic, and complet- ed his forensic psychiatry fellowship at Case Western Reserve Uni- versity. His e-mail is ian@lamoureuxforensics.com. C L A I M S O F I N S A N I T Y D U R I N G I N T E R R O G AT I O N PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

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