Inspiring Alumni | Brian Leslie '76
By: Steve Hanulik, Contributing Writer
INTEGRITY | living each day with honesty and strong moral principles.
Renowned coercive interrogation expert, Brian Leslie, has always known where his path would lead. “...ever since I was ten years old I wanted to be a cop. There was no doubt in my mind that’s what I wanted to do.”
With a decades-spanning career that includes a term as Chief of Police, a role working with the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) courts of the United States Military, and being retained on some of the highest-profile cases in U.S. history, it’s safe to say that Brian has more than achieved his goals. Now, as founder of Criminal Case Consultants and author of such books as Deception of a Witness and Visual Liar, he is using his unique insight to determine who, precisely, is telling the truth in an investigation.
“...I look at all the elements”, he explains. “How was the identification done? How coercive was the interrogation? What was the length? Were such techniques as...narrative traps, narrative integrations, word integrations, minimization used to get a confession?”
In addition to the well-known Mollie Tibbetts murder case in Iowa, Brian has been qualified and testified as an expert on some of the most high-profile cases in the United States. He credits his success to an uncompromising attention to detail and a comprehensive understanding of how investigations become flawed. “I have to be very exact in what I do following factual evidence only. I base everything on evidence which is reflected in my reports and I only refer to that when I’m testifying. That’s one main reason why the courts accept me as an expert.”
This an impressive record for a man who, as a teenager, didn’t consider himself to be a particularly strong student when he first arrived at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS). “Social Studies teacher Mr. Dawood was a hands-on teacher. For me that was the most important thing. That’s why (STS) inspired me and made my marks go up. When I came from the public system I was not a good student. I needed extra attention. I was kind of a wild child.”
Brian’s teacher cultivated the spark that helped him discover his innate love of learning. In fact, the majority of his subsequent education has been self-guided, including an interest in foreign cultures and travel which helped pave the way for his working on contract with the United Nations in Lebanon. “I taught myself everything along the way. I learned all by doing.”
“Not everybody’s an academic,” he adds, “but even if you’re not an academic you may someday reach success on your own terms. That’s what people don’t understand. Sometimes just because a kid’s struggling it’s not because he can’t do it. It’s because he’s trying to do it on his own terms. And it makes a big difference.”
This lesson, he says, applies as much to parents and guardians as to the students themselves. “The most important thing for students is, no matter what their dream is, let them follow their dream. But as a parent, guide them and support them in what they want to do. Don’t change their dream, support them in what they do.”
The most important thing for students is, no matter what their dream is, let them follow their dream.