30 Minute Interview

In 2003 Detective Roger Estes was requested to develop a short interviewing course for uniform officers of the Arlington County Police Department in Virginia. The purpose of this course was to enhance the skills of uniform officers, more than what officers had learned in their academy classes. In some instances those skills had been learned many years prior. J. Murray Farr, ACPD Deputy Chief of Operations, mandated the course for all non-supervisory uniform officers.  Detective Estes created a workbook for officer students. The workbook was copyrighted and the course was named, “The 30 Minute Interview. Later, the name was trademarked.

Detective Estes decided the course would be best taught through the use of detectives’ interview skills. Using a few other detectives as well as Detective Estes’ own interviewing experience, the course began. From teaching many years of police skills Detective Estes knew that easy to learn techniques were the ones most likely to be remembered and applied. The course was taught in a single nine-hour day for the first two years. After two years, Chief Farr determined the course would also be taught to recruits following field training. The course was then changed to an eight hour day and was only taught by Detective Estes and occasionally assisted by one other detective.

This course is currently taught in an intense 8-hour day using some lecture to offer certain interviewing points. Videos are used to cement the ideas in the student’s mind. Written statements are also analyzed for lies and methods of obtaining truth in statements. Specific questioning techniques are taught as well as how to develop rapport quickly. Also taught is usage of recorders, documentation of the interview and court testimony. In 2006, Detective Estes offered The 30 Minute Interview to the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy in Loudon, Virginia. Since the course began, approximately 900 police officers in multiple jurisdictions have been taught this class.

In July, 2010 Detective Estes retired from Arlington County Police and continues to teach The 30 Minute Interview at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy and various other locations.  Detective Estes is also writing a book on interviewing.

About Detective Estes

Detective EstesMr. Estes has lived in the DC Metropolitan area for most of his life. His father’s influence and expertise in firearms resulted in Mr. Estes beginning to rifle shoot at a young age and eventually shooting on the Washington-Lee High School rifle team in Arlington, VA.

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