Internal Affairs

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Internal Affairs Investigations

Mitchell Carrillo
Student ID# 4069057
American Military University
Professor John F. Hein

Every police department should be open for review and strictly accountable for their officer’s conduct while serving the community. Police employees are expected to maintain themselves in a manner consistent with a standard of professionalism necessary to ensure safety in the community. All citizens have a right, in good faith, to report a police officer’s misconduct. In my essay, I will present the reasons and purpose for internal affairs investigations. I will discuss the standards for internal affairs investigations in the State of California and how the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights was enacted to protect officers during the internal affairs process. I will discuss how Miranda and Lybarger plays a critical role in protecting officers from self incrimination during the administrative investigation. Lastly, I will share my beliefs on how officers are treated compared to citizens during interrogations.

The purpose of the complaint policy is to establish a procedure to investigate complaints of poor service or misconduct against members of a police department. The internal affairs investigation must be thorough and impartial in order to protect the rights of the police officer and maintain the department’s high level of integrity and efficiency. Proper use of this procedure should allow for the identification of facts, clarification of issues, and identification of procedural deficiencies. The procedure should also safeguard the rights of the police officer.

A properly conducted internal affairs investigation should allow the department to determine real or potential causes of problems relating to human relations and remedy identified deficiencies, insure proper corrective action is taken when appropriate, and to protect personnel from unwarranted criticism when they perform their respective duties in an approved manner and within established departmental rules and policies. The procedures are intended to clear those that are innocent of misconduct, establish the fault of wrongdoers; facilitate prompt and just disciplinary action, and uncover defective procedures.

Generally, the internal affairs investigation process begins with either a “citizens complain” or “internally generated” complaint and or observations of possible rules or policy violations. California Penal Code section 832.5, which forms the basis for the application of criminal law in the state of California, mandates that agencies that employ peace officers must establish a procedure to investigate citizen’s complaints against such officers and to make it available to the public. This mandate provides an avenue for the public to advance complaints of misconduct. 832.5 PC reads as follows, “Each department or agency in this state that employs peace officers shall establish a procedure to investigate citizens’ complaints against the personnel of these departments or agencies, and shall make a written description of the procedure available to the public.”

At this point, I have established the fact that an agency that employs peace officers must have a citizen complain policy pursuant to the California Penal Code. Every police agency has their own complaint form and process to receive it. As stated in 832.7 PC, a person filing a complain must sign the complaint form once it has been made. In addition, the penal code goes so far as to provide a word for word admonishment for the citizen making the complain to read before they sign it. Signing the complaint form advisement holds the citizen accountable when filing a false complaint of misconduct by a police officer. 148.6 PC states “Every person who files any allegation of misconduct against any peace officer, knowing the allegation to be false, is guilty of a misdemeanor.” Unfortunately, PC 148.6 does not provide any remedy or suggestion as to what an agency is to...
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