The Bipolar Trap in Law Enforcement Interviews

William Sharkey, Jessica Kaneshiro


Questions are used as a basic investigative interviewing tool. The types and wording of questions during interviews or interrogations are critical to increase the chances of educing needed information. One problematic tool investigators use may hinder the effectiveness and efficiency to obtain requested information – the bipolar trap. The bipolar trap increases the probability of not getting the required information. Law enforcement training manuals and texts perpetuate the use of bipolar traps by including them as examples, without precautions, of properly phrased moderately closed and open-ended probes. Reducing or eliminating the use of bipolar traps and such pitfalls may assist investigators in conducting more effective and efficient interviews.

Key Words: Law Enforcement, Interview, Questions, Probes, Bipolar Trap, Interviewer, Interviewee, Investigator

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[JLE] ISSN 2161-0231 (Online)

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