Interviews conducted with witnesses should be non-accusatory. Investigators must make systematicic effort to interview all witnesses so that a thorough investigation is completed. Some witnesses to a crime may eventually become suspects but they should not be treated as such until the investigator feels that there is adequate evidence to infer his and is prepared to proceed with an interrogation. During a witness interview the investigator should ask open ended questions allowing the witness as much time to answer in as much detail as he or she wants. If the witness’ answers are too short or lack description the investigator should ask follow up questions to elicit further detail. The questions asked of witnesses will vary depending on the investigation (Hoffman, 2005). In general, the witness should be asked to describe what they observed in as much detail as possible, what involvement, if any, they had in the event; their knowledge of, or relationship with, any of the participants, and personal information (name, age, phone number, address). Keep in mind that if your witness saw the incident and it involved physical violence they may be fearful and hesitant to speak with you. Reassure them the goal of the investigation is to restore peace and safety in the workplace. Don’t promise something you can’t deliver. Ensure anonymity throughout the investigation.
Witness Interviews General Questions
∞ What is your general perception on the safety of your work environment?
∞ Are you aware of any problems or conflict within your group?
∞ Have you seen any inappropriate or offensive behavior in the workplace?
∞ Have you heard any rumors that are cause for concern?
∞ Remember to tread lightly; the individual may have no direct knowledge of the alleged incident.
∞ If the witness saw the incident – refer to interview techniques.
∞ Show me how it was done
∞ With what intensity
∞ Use measuring scales
Witness Interview Direct Questions
∞ We were advised that you were a potential witness to an incident that occurred on 4/12/15 at 4:30 p.m. between employee “X” & “Y”. Did you see any disturbing interaction between these two employees?
∞ Did you see them talking or near each other at all during this time?
∞ What has been your perception of the normal interaction between the two employees?
∞ Have you heard any gossip around the department regarding these employees?
∞ Note: Always document the date and approximate time of any incident witnessed.