Jonathan Alston is a Criminal Intelligence Analyst with the sexual assault section of the Edmonton Police Service. What exactly does a Criminal Intelligence Analyst do? "The most general way to put it," explains Jonathan, "would be to say that analysts collect information, they collate and organize it, they analyze it, and then disseminate and present that information."
Part of the analysts' job is to figure out whether or not the information that they are getting from witnesses, suspects, and even confessing criminals is true. To do that, they are trained to find verbal, behavioral, and even written cues that indicate some kind of deception in an interview or statement. Deception isn't quite the same as lying, though. "It's difficult to lie," says Jonathan, "but it's very easy to deceive. People deceive all the time - we do it when we're presenting a certain image of ourselves, like wearing makeup, or giving ourselves important-sounding job titles. Deceiving is just a question of concealing part of the truth."
Here are some of the cues that Jonathan would look for when analyzing an interview: "What you're looking for is a lack of commitment in the story. You may have a long story where the person telling it never uses the word 'I'. For example, if you ask 'what did you do yesterday?', someone who is trying to deceive you would say 'got up, got breakfast, went out, went to work, came home'. Often people will find ways to avoid committing to stories that aren't true, and pronoun use is one of those ways." Jonathan also suggests paying attention to changes in tense. Present tense often indicates a creative process, whereas past tense indicates recollection of memory. Finally, there is the emotional content of the statement or in the interview. People who are inventing a story or event will often leave out any emotional content, like mentioning that they were frightened or angry.