A good way to learn is by observing the mistakes of others and then making sure we don’t repeat those same mistakes. Mr. Sherman is going to give us a hand in the following case.
A small group of dock-workers in California, working for Topside Industries, an international shipping company, was being investigated concerning its involvement in a theft. The theft itself was a rather simple operation. The dock hands unloading foreign-made products acted in collusion with their supervisors in order to steal certain items, which they marked on official invoices as “missing” or “damaged” due to shipping. They later sold the items on the black market and split the money between the conspirators. The fraud was discovered when Longstreet Enterprises’ Asian subsidiary contacted Meade about an unusual number of microwaves that were lost during shipment from Korea to Long Beach.
Young Mr. Sherman, the newest member of Meade’s security team, decided to simultaneously interview Mr. Lee and Mr. Jackson, two dockworkers, concerning their involvement in the fraud.
Never having actually met Sherman, Lee and Jackson were simply instructed to wait in the “interrogation” room in the security shop. Lee and Jackson arrived promptly at 8 a.m., dressed in their work clothes, and were seated. Via the intercom, they were told not to leave until Sherman gave them explicit permission to do so. Sherman did not enter the room until 9:30. He was escorted into the room by a burly security guard carrying a nightstick.
Lee, annoyed at Sherman’s tardiness, blurted out, “Hey’, man, we togs to get back to work. I ain’t getting paid for time off the dock.”
Sherman made no reply. He only paced the room for what seemed an eternity to Jackson. Finally, Sherman moved deliberately and directly over to a chair on Lee and Jackson’s side of the table. Sherman pulled his chair within inches of the two men being interrogated and straddled the chair so that the lack of the chair supported his arms.
“Lee, do you know what they did with pirates in per-colonial Virginia?” asked Sherman. Lee shrugged a little bit and was struggling for an answer when Sherman interrupted. “They were executed in the gallows, and then their bodies were hung in iron cages on the shores of the bay as an example to would-be thieves and pirates. Not a pretty picture, is it, Lee?” Lee was at a visible loss for words.
Pulling two pens and two pieces of paper from his coat pocket and slamming them onto the table, Sherman raised his voice and said, “Now let’s cut through the crap. You dickies are guilty as hell. We’ve got a paper trail a mile long to prove it along with surveillance tapes and written confessions from Hill and Grant. Do yourselves a favor and write out your confessions. If you don’t, I might just have to leave you here with Bruno. And if you physically assault him and he beats you silly, well then it’ll be your words against his, comprehend? Oh, yeah, you’ll still he under investigation for grand theft.”
Please identify only two mistakes (try to select two that have not already been identified by your classmates) that Sherman made in interviewing Lee and Jackson, explain in detail why it was a mistake and then tell us what Sherman should have done instead.
Sherman made some threats and claims he could not prove. What were they? Was doing this a good strategy? Is it ever acceptable to make a threat that involves physical violence?
The book identifies specific locations where interviews should take place. Is the “interrogation room” one of those places? Where should Sherman have met with Lee and Jackson?