How to get the best information after an incident

One thing I have observed over the years whenever I get to investigate an incident just after it has happened is I always seem to get a response from the person involved that attributes their own actions to the incident. The further away I get from the incident, in terms of time, the focus shifts to others, in particular the hazard or breakdown of the system. It seems like people start seeking where to attribute blame and that doesn’t mean themselves.

Also remember the further you get away from the incident, the less accurate our recall becomes. What is the real problem though is that our brains fill in bits that are missing with information it links to, not what you may have seen. As an example of this phenomena, the number of convictions that were based on eyewitness testimony (basically what we can recall from our fallible memory) that are being overturned based on DNA evidence continues to mount.

So, when an incident occurs and you want the best representation of what actually happened, ask your questions as soon as you can. What we store in our working memory is fallible and once the memory fades, the brain pretty much makes up the rest.

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