The push to change policing training, in response to this year’s protests against brutality, might also include training that is grounded more in solid science backing effective interrogation tactics, The Intercept reports. A trove of police training materials that was hacked and posted online, called BlueLeaks, held numerous flyers for training seminars offered to police agencies across the country, many of which promote methods of interviewing, interrogation and lie detection that rest on unsteady scientific ground and have been linked to false confessions and wrongful convictions.
One training billed as “cutting edge” taught dozens of law enforcement professionals at an event in Wisconsin a widely discredited method of analyzing body language to spot deception, based on “microexpressions” that last fractions of a second. Another training institute, headed by a former lawman and rodeo clown, has taught officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement lessons in how body language — including “facial gestures and human emotions,” “eye movement and gaze behavior,” and “gestures involving the torso” — can be used in interrogations and reveals not only deception but danger for officers. “They’re selling snake oil. I mean, let’s be honest,” said Jeff Kukucka, an assistant professor of psychology and law at Towson University who studies forensic confirmation bias, interrogations and false confessions. “They’re raking in money by selling snake oil to, unfortunately, people who have a lot of clout.”