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Good Cop, Bad Cop Police Interrogation Technique

Police and law enforcement training covers different areas of police work procedures, but perhaps the most well known is the “good cop, bad cop” interrogation technique. Popularized by television shows, “good cop, bad cop,” has actually been proven effective in many scenarios in which a potential criminal is investigated for suspected criminal behavior or activity.

"Good cop, bad cop" may be used during traffic stops in order to elicit a confession that can lead to an arrest. The technique may also occur during an interrogation at a police station or other law enforcement establishment, but cannot continue if and when a suspect asks to speak to a lawyer. "Good cop, bad cop" involves two different police or law enforcement officers who interview a suspect at different times, using very different approaches. The “bad cop” is the first officer to interview a suspect, and projects an image of anger, frustration and unwillingness to compromise. This behavior is intended to shake up a suspect and force a confession through fear or coercion.

If the “bad cop” technique does not work, that officer will leave, and a “good cop” will take over the interview. The good cop will provide a more sympathetic approach to the interview, even to the point of empathizing with the feelings of the suspect in regard to the accusations, the other officer, or whatever concerns are expressed. This technique works well, especially for first-time offenders, who may be afraid that if there is no cooperation, the “bad cop” could return and continue the traumatic interview.

Since criminals are more willing to confess if it seems a lighter sentence or punishment will happen, the “good cop, bad cop” technique can help alleviate some of the fear of punishment. By believing there is an ally in the process, a criminal may feel relieved, and better able to unburden a guilty conscience.



In the different areas of law enforcement and police training, interrogation techniques such as “good cop, bad cop” can be considered art forms rather than procedures. The different types of training that an officer receives help uphold local, state and national laws while keeping criminals off the streets, or from committing further crimes. The dedicated officers who provide community safety assurance by continuing to learn new skills, as well as develop new ways to provide this important assurance can make a big difference in the outlook of citizens of neighborhoods and communities across the country.

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