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Interview Challenge: Mike Simmen Versus the FBI

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 69 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2000 Pages: 16-20
Owen Einspahr MPA
John E. Ott
Date Published
April 2000
5 pages
With the help of technology, police officers can enhance one of their most fundamental and important skills, interviewing individuals using an interactive computer program that closely imitates real-life situations.
In 1996, instructors who teach interviewing and interrogation at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Academy met with members of the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) of the Johns Hopkins University to determine if they could create a computer program that would realistically simulate a human personality. The APL faced a challenging design proposal. First, FBI instructors wanted an interactive, self-paced computer program that would be user-friendly. Second, the computer-simulated interviewee needed to display multiple dispositions interview after interview to emulate the many different types of individuals encountered by police investigators. Finally, the program could not allow users to "beat the system." The APL delivered the completed software to the FBI in May 1998 that was based on a simulated man referred to as Mike Simmen. The brain of Mike Simmen contains both logical and emotional components, causing him to respond differently depending on the interview. The FBI indicates the computer software has improved the interviewing skills of its agents. Procedures to follow in conducting and concluding an interview using Mike Simmen are described. 5 endnotes and 1 photograph