SUSPECT OF or SUSPECT IN? Police Officer Wants It Right.

policemanIt is always fascinating to discover who reads this blog and finds it useful. Last week I heard from a police officer with a question about the grammar of a statement printed on a "Beheler Admonishment" card officers keep on hand to give to suspects.

I admit that I had to look up Beheler Admonishment–a statement used when a suspect is invited to the police station for a voluntary interview. It assures that the person is not under arrest and is free to leave at any time.

This is the wording the police officer questioned:

You are the suspect of a police investigation….

The officer believed the correct wording should be "in a police investigation," and he reported that there had been some heated discussion at the station about what was correct. "A person can be the suspect OF a crime," he said, "but not the suspect OF an investigation."

 I agreed and suggested they reprint the cards because , although a person can certainly be the SUBJECT of an investigation, that person cannot be the SUSPECT of the investigation. To me, the SUSPECT of an investigation would be someone who is skeptical about the investigation.

Perhaps a fine distinction, but it could be an important one in these days of legal hair-splitting.


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