Interrogation Company Insists That ‘When They See Us’ Got It Wrong

Interrogation Company Insists That ‘When They See Us’ Got It Wrong


The first episode of “When They See Us” shows the teenagers in police interrogation rooms. In those scenes, investigators tell the boys that they have been accused of rape, lead them to believe that they can go home if they cooperate, coach them on what to say and, in some cases, physically assault them.

But the Reid technique prohibits “striking or assaulting a subject, making any promises of leniency, denying a subject any rights, conducting excessively long interrogations, or denying a subject any physical needs,” the lawsuit says.

“Reid also urges that extreme care and caution be used with juveniles or those mentally impaired,” it continues. “All of this information is publicly available upon even the most cursory of searches.”

In the fourth and final episode of “When They See Us,” the Reid technique is referred to by name. The scene, set in 2002, includes three people portrayed by actors: Nancy Ryan and Peter Casolaro, of the Manhattan district attorney’s office; and Mike Sheehan, who served as a detective in the Central Park jogger case.

“You squeezed statements out of them after 42 hours of questioning and coercing,” Mr. Casolaro says to Mr. Sheehan in the scene. “Without food, bathroom breaks. Withholding parental supervision. The Reid technique has been universally rejected. That’s truth to you?”

“I don’t know what the Reid technique is,” Mr. Sheehan responds, including an expletive.

Philip M. Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University, said he did not know what the Reid technique was either when he used an approximation of it as a police officer in New Hampshire in the 1980s. He had not been formally trained in the method and learned about it from other investigators.



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