Tears alone won’t fool him

A polygraph specialist dropped some pearls of interrogational wisdom in Red Deer on Friday, among them that “if you don’t see snot,” the waterworks are probably fake.

A polygraph specialist dropped some pearls of interrogational wisdom in Red Deer on Friday, among them that “if you don’t see snot,” the waterworks are probably fake.

“They can turn the tears on, but unless you see the faucet . . .”

Const. Mike Fischer with the Medicine Hat Police Service made an oftentimes light-hearted presentation on interview techniques at the Alberta Municipal Enforcement Association’s annual convention, which took place this week at the Capri Hotel and Convention Centre.

Insincere crying is just one among the many barriers to effective communication outlined by Fischer in his three-hour seminar.

The lie-detecting police officer debunked a few myths from Hollywood.

He explained that you can’t really trust the now well-worn adage that if someone looks off to their right when they answer a question, they’re editing or fabricating something.

“Don’t think about what you see on TV with the bright lights shining on you, with a phone book and a rubber hose,” he added. “It doesn’t happen.”

Fischer suggested the seminar would help those bylaw officers and others in attendance develop their own “internal polygraphs.”

For instance, he told the two dozen peace officers present, if you approach a suspect and he or she has a defensive posture, don’t immediately take on the issue at hand. Instead, make friends, he said.

“If he pulls up in a Ford F150, that right there is the most beautiful truck you’ve seen in your life,” said Fischer.

If they’re wearing an Edmonton Eskimos ballcap, “You’ve just become the biggest Edmonton Eskimos fan on the planet . . . allow them to uncoil a little bit,” he advised.

“I’ll shake their hand no matter how greasy, ugly or stinky it is,” he said, miming wiping his hand off on his paints to laughs from the audience.

Fischer recommended watching for “clusters” of physical signals that indicate person is overly anxious and possibly lying, including pulling on ear lobes, licking lips or picking at lint.

The veteran of the Medicine Hat and Regina police departments was on hand at the request of the AMEA, which was celebrating its 30th annual convention in Red Deer.

Last year, the association had 325 members. They are municipal enforcement officers, community peace officers or bylaw officers. That includes urban parks rangers, parking enforcement officers, animal control officers and many more.

AMEA publicity officer Heather Rann said their membership, like the particular role they fill in municipalities, is growing as legislation constantly changes and expands and makes more work.

mgauk@bprda.wpengine.com