By Dave Zulawski, CFI, CFE

The New Year is a time for resolutions; where we try do something a bit better than last year. Making a small change which enables us to be prouder of who we are. So I would ask you to think about how you handle and resolve investigations.

Last year we saw several injustices coming to light. There were miscarriages of justice where people had been convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. They were misidentified by eye witnesses or outdated science and some falsely confessed to the crime. In some cases the investigators had tunnel vision and ignored other suspects or contradictory evidence, convinced they knew who had committed the crime. I don’t believe there are many investigators who would intentionally try to convict someone who is innocent, but the results show that it has happened.

Last year also highlighted the shameful sexual harassment of employees in the work place. People of power used their position to control others by extorting sexual favors from those below them. There were admissions and denials too numerous to mention. In some cases the allegations were ignored or the rumors left unexplored. These types of cases are difficult to investigate because there is often a lack of definitive evidence and you are left with a “he said she said” allegation and denial. However, as we have seen, these cases develop a pattern and often escalate when not investigated. These allegations need to be thoroughly investigated, protocols need to be established and the truth uncovered.

As a resolution for this year I would ask you to consider examining how you investigate and interview. Are you doing or saying anything which might cause an innocent person to confess? Are you using threats or promises when you talk to people? Are you revealing evidence or using it to confirm the suspect’s admission? Are you exploring alternative explanations which may prove the suspect innocent or lead to another suspect?

Finally, are you thinking about how you might investigate those he said she said allegations and denials? These require a new way of thinking and interviewing to resolve. I hope you will take a moment to think about it. We at WZ continue to evolve and provide interviewing skills for these difficult investigations. We wish you a productive and successful 2018.