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Internal Affairs Interviews

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 53 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2005 Pages: 112-115
Frank Colaprete
Date Published
June 2005
4 pages
This article examines the legal, procedural, and psychological requirements for conducting an administrative interview in the context of a law enforcement agency's internal investigation.
There are three major legal considerations in the administrative interview process: criminal, internal, and civil. Criminal investigations should have top priority and be governed by all the protections of the fifth amendment regarding self-incrimination and rights of due process. An internal investigation carries a different set of rules for the interview process. Officers can be compelled to provide statements related to job functions as a condition of employment and can be held accountable for the truthfulness of the statement. Civil investigations stem from litigation that usually involves issues regarding the vicarious liability of an agency for actions by its personnel. Prior to a civil investigation, a criminal or internal investigation may have been completed. The civil claims investigation has evidentiary rules similar to those of an internal investigation; most evidence is admissible, and the level of proof is by a preponderance of evidence. In the interviews of all three types of investigations, there are some common concerns. Knowing the case before conducting the interview ensures its completeness and thoroughness, eliminating the need for numerous interviews. During the interview, the interviewer should define his/her role in the investigation and stay within the boundaries of the defined role. The number of individuals involved in the interview process should be limited, and also afforded the opportunity for union or legal representation. Regarding psychological issues pertinent to the interview, the methods used should reflect compassion and empathy for the officer being interviewed. This not only increases the likelihood that an officer will be more forthcoming in the interview, but also mitigates damage to departmental morale and image.