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How do You Record Your Interviews?

Investigators almost always try to record the interviews they conduct.  The main reason is for the purpose of accuracy when they have to report their findings.  There are instances when you interview a potential witness, and they change their story in court.  It is awfully nice to have a recorded interview where they state something different, especially if you need to discredit the witness or what they "now" say damages a case.

Every time I conduct an interview, I try to get it recorded.  I have tried out several high-end recorders, only to find out the are "too good."  Too many times when I have used the high end products, they are too sensitive and pick up way too much background noise.  When I say recorders - I am speaking of digital recorders.  I do not use tape any longer - it is just logistically too impractical.  The 4th recorder I decided to try out was basically out of need.  I had sent back another expensive model, and I needed one as a stop-gap measure.   I bought a $59 model from Wal~Mart.

The recorder I got was a Sony ICD-PX312 digital recorder.  It has a removable micro-SD card (which was one of the few requirements I have).  It can record in several formats, and has several quality settings.  I stated off using everything in the middle range.  It it easy to set up and easy to use.  I can turn the recorder on and lock the power button so it continually records conversations.  I put the recorder in my pocket and conduct the interview.  It doesn't matter if it is a shirt or pants pocket - it records the conversation really well.

I would have to give this recorder a 5 out of 5 rating if I had a system.  It is easy to use, easy to set up and always gives me a great recording.  This equipment is standard issue for everyone working for me.

If you use something that works really well, I would like to hear from you.

Don't Forget the Basics

If you are called upon to work any type of homicide investigation, including a suicide, don't forget the basics.  A lot of times law enforcement agencies focus on the "suspect' and the crime and they often forget to do the basics of a homicide investigation.

Homicide 101: You track down the victim's last 24 hours.

Every detective knows this is the basics.  However, I have been called in on more than one occasion where this is not done.  Sometimes it is because the police feel they have a slam dunk case.  Other times they do not see the relevance of doing this basic step in the investigation.

There are a lot of things that may or may not turn up in this process.  However, forgetting or just ignoring this process can leave out a lot of critical information.  This process often leads to more witnesses and more evidence that can make the case for either the state or the defendant.

It seems in today's world with surveillance cameras and other technology, basic investigative work is overlooked again and again.  I know police agencies are strapped budget-wise, but not doing the basics can be an embarrassment later.

Canvassing, interviews, tracking down the last 24 hours are all things you need to do in your investigation.  If you leave any of these out - you may not just have egg on your face - but you just may lose your case.

Whatever you do - Stay safe!