Internal investigations are a necessary process in successfully combating threats to organizations such as cash and property loss and any disruptive employee behavior. But how do investigators solve these issues with time constraints, disgruntled employees and disruption to operations these investigations may cause?

Investigative challenges faced by security teams

In retail security, the investigative processes include conducting inventory shrinkage surveys, financial audits, and speaking with every employee in the department or area with access to or knowledge of who may have intentionally caused the theft, cash shortage or inventory shrinkage. The scope of this process is overwhelmingly broad and can be disruptive to operations, sales and employee morale. As investigative efforts continue, operations efficiency and employee cooperation tend to decrease at a faster rate than investigative progress can be achieved, resulting in a highly disrupted work environment. Employees, human resources and customers may become increasingly uncooperative as investigative measures lengthen, contributing to a counterproductive workplace environment.

While the Content Analysis (SCAN) or Behavioral Interview processes can be used on several employees during investigations, these methods may yield unreliable results due to the number of potential suspects and length it takes to complete the inquiry. During these investigations, the ability to expedite processes and preserve investigative precision is one of the most crucial components in successfully concluding the investigation.

In a recent example, a distribution center with high inventory shrinkage that employs over hundreds of workers including truck drivers, product handlers, shippers, receivers and laborers all working in and around the facility 24/7 suffered from typical investigative methods due to the size of the warehouse, volume of product, and interconnected processes that occur in the facility. CCTV systems, access control, and the other traditionally physical security technology proved ineffective in solving the shrinkage problem. Sending a team of inventory specialists with investigators to conduct system audits, surveillance and conduct inventory shrinkage survey interviews among employees did not yield substantial results on a time-efficient schedule, while reducing operational efficiency, causing disruption to production and distribution, and potentially negatively impacted departmental relationships.

Addressing investigative interview pitfalls

To address these challenges, security leaders can employ a number of strategies to narrow down suspects of a security investigation and increase investigative efficiency.

Former corporate security professional Russ Law recognized the downsides of current investigative strategy. “We know that the most successful way to gather information during an investigation is through a solid and professional interview. We also know that interviews didn’t scale. The investigator could only interview one person at a time, which used the investigator’s time and each interviewee’s time,” said Law, CEO and Founder of Verensics.

Corporate security executive Alan Saquella, CPP, found the investigative interview process from Verensics helped in a recent investigation. In a recent investigation, the technology narrowed the suspect pool from around eighty to just a handful, allowing the investigators to work and focus their efforts on interviewing just those few suspects resulting in the closure of the case with successful results, minimal costs and with removing the human errors caused by traditional methods, Saquella stated.

An electric narrowing interview process can help reduce the scope of suspects compared to traditional interview processes. This process uses electronic questionnaires that can be provided to hundreds of employees at the same time to discreetly narrow the pool of suspects while maintaining employee confidentiality and eliminating the disruption of sending investigators to the physical location.

The procedure progresses the interview to determine if the employee is involved in any workplace violations or has knowledge of others that are committing crimes or serious policy violations. The questions also work to determine if the employee is involved in similar violations or illegal activity based on answers to the questions are selected or by self-admissions of minor offenses during the electronic narrowing interview process.

Further, Saquella mentioned as a former investigator, polygraph examiner, interviewer, and interrogator with decades of experience investigating employee criminal activity and serious policy violations, the benefits of the electronic narrowing interview process are a welcomed addition to the tools for investigators. The technology applies to cases of bribery, dishonesty, workplace violence, information theft, sexual harassment, sabotage & vandalism, unethical supplier and vendor relationships to employees, fraud, illegal drug and alcohol violations, and bullying/harassment. This technology has been successfully applied in government and law enforcement internal employee investigations, as well as many public and private organizations.