You may have never heard of the Reid technique, but chances are you know how it works. For more than half a century, it has been the go-to police interrogation method for squeezing confessions out of suspects. Its tropes are familiar from any cop show: the claustrophobic room, the repeated accusations of guilt, the presentation of evidence—real or invented—and the slow build-up of pressure that makes admitting a crime seem like the easiest way out.
That's why it jolted the investigative world this week when one of the nation's largest police consulting firms—one that has trained hundreds of thousands of cops from Chicago to New York and federal agents at almost every major agency—said it is tossing out the Reid technique because of the risk of false confessions.
Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, a consulting group that says it has worked with a majority of US police departments, said Monday it will stop training detectives in the method it has taught since 1984.