Book 7: Evidence Collection and Interviewing Techniques to Sharpen Investigation Skills
Solid evidence collection and interviewing techniques are critical to great investigations. It’s important to stick to the facts; otherwise, it’s easy to develop ineffective corrective actions. Don’t try to develop fixes for what you assume happened. Book 7 in the TapRooT® series will help you sharpen your investigation skills.
Every picture tells a story.
Evidence collected from an incident scene will provide a “picture” of events for the investigator to consider when identifying mistakes, errors and equipment failures to analyze for root causes. That picture will be comprised of facts like witness interviews, photographs of the scene, video recordings, copies of procedures and environmental data. TapRooT® investigators record all of the information collected on a SnapCharT® to stay organized, and develop a full and accurate picture of what led to the incident.
Book 7: “Evidence Collection and Interviewing Techniques to Sharpen Investigation Skills” gives an investigator all the tools needed to paint that picture.
Let’s take a look inside.
Chapter 1: Preplan for Evidence Collection
“Planning is bringing the future into the present, so that you can do something about it now.”
~ Alan Lakein
A little preplanning goes a long way in saving time and avoiding headaches during an investigation. Some ideas presented in the book are:
- preparing an investigation policy
- establishing training requirements for your team
- building an investigation kit
- consulting corporate counsel
- preparing and organizing forms + more
Preplanning helps set you up for a successful investigation.
Chapter 2: Emergency Response and Scene Management
“Remember: when disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed.” ~ Steven Cyros
Scene management is important to evidence collection because a poorly managed scene will make it difficult to find any useful information for the investigation. This chapter gives the investigator some things to think about both from the perspective of first responders, and the perspective of the investigator who is tasked with collecting and preserving the evidence after emergency response.
Chapter 3: Introduction to the TapRooT® Process
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” ~ John Wooden
TapRooT® is a systematic root cause analysis process. It guides the investigator with human factors and equipment troubleshooting tools to drill down to the true root causes. This chapter introduces the reader to TapRooT® processes for simple and major investigations.
Chapter 4: Plan your Investigation
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” ~ John D. Rockefeller
It doesn’t matter if you are investigating a simple incident or major accident, Step 1 of the TapRooT® process is always planning your investigation with a tool called SnapCharT®. A SnapCharT® is the central repository for all evidence collected, ensuring it is not lost. A SnapCharT® is a required tools for every investigation. Two other optional tools, the Root Cause Tree® and Equifactor®, are introduced in this chapter.
Chapter 5: Determine What Happened
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” ~ Albert Einstein
After planning your investigation, it’s time to determine what happened by collecting evidence. This chapter discussed four techniques used to help you gather, document, organize and understand the evidence:
- SnapCharT® Diagram
- Equifactor® Troubleshooting Guide
- Critical Human Action Profile
- Change Analysis
Chapter 6: Collecting People, Paper, Physical and Recordings Evidence
“Leave no stone unturned.” ~ Euripides
You need to know the “what” before you ask “why.” When a simple incident occurs, it’s easy to collect the supervisor’s report, a witness statement, follow-up with the witness about his/her statement . . . and call it a day. But “simple incident” does not mean skip evidence collection. This chapter sets out different types of evidence to collect. It includes recording the scene with a video sweep, taking photographs and sketching the scene, and collecting paperwork – all of these techniques can create a better picture of what occurred before the incident.
Chapter 7: The TapRooT® 12-Step Process
“I think an interview, properly considered, should be an investigation. You shouldn’t know what the interview will yield. Otherwise, why do it at all?” ~ Errol Morris
Do you use a process when conducting interviews? Not many do, but a process ensures that you don’t miss anything when you are working to achieve a desired goal. In evidence collection, that goal is to collect reliable data.
The TapRooT® 12-Step Process will ensure you take the time to build rapport (a proven way to influence a witness to share more), and help the witness remember more about the incident with better accuracy. It also ensures you structure the way you question the witness the right way, properly close the interview and attend to pre and post-interview tasks.
Chapter 8: Decoding Non-Verbal Behavior
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” ~ Peter F. Drucker
Understanding body language is helpful to investigative interviewing. It helps the investigator guide interviews in a productive way when the investigator can determine when a witness seems comfortable or uncomfortable. This chapter discusses some common myths about non-verbal behavior as well as the science behind why nonverbals provide us reliable information. Body language signals that indicate comfort and discomfort are included.
Chapter 9: Putting it All Together
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” ~ Harry S. Truman
The last chapter reviews the prior 8 so you don’t get away without reinforcing some of the main ideas about evidence collection.
The Appendices at the end of the book provide more useful information:
Appendix A: Investigation Kit – a list of items to help you build an kit to take to an incident scene and collect evidence.
Appendix B: Witness Statement form example
Appendix C: Interview Preparation form example
Appendix D: Overview of the TapRooT® 12-Step Process flow
Appendix E: Evidence log form example
Appendix F: Critical Human Action Profile example (a task analysis)
Appendix G: Change Analysis example (a simple way to collect additional information about an incident)
About the Authors
Barb Carr joined System Improvements in 2006. She is responsible for the continuous development of TapRooT® Evidence Collection and Investigative Interviewing Training. Barb has a background in legal and training from the National Forensic Science Technology Center. She completed human factors training at the University of Michigan. Barb has a B.S. in Psychology and is a Certified Professional Coach.
Mark Paradies is President of System Improvements and co-developer of the TapRooT® System. He has 40 years of experience in high-reliability organizations, process safety, incident investigation, process improvement, and root cause analysis. His career started as a leader in Admiral Rickover’s Nuclear Navy (where he earned Engineer Qualification). He also worked for Du Pont in the areas of human factors, process safety, and performance improvement management before he started System Improvements in 1988. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Nuclear Engineering (with an emphasis on human factors), both from the University of Illinois.
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