Internal Affairs & Disciplinary Appeal

The attorneys of Lyon, Gorsky & Gilbert, L.L.P. have nearly 100 years of combined experience in representing police officers, fire fighters, and other public employees in internal affairs investigations and disciplinary appeals at the federal, state and local agency level.

The Internal Affairs Division of a law enforcement agency investigates incidents and plausible suspicions of lawbreaking and professional misconduct attributed to officers on the force. In different systems, internal affairs can go by another name such as “professional standards,” “inspectorate general,” Office of Professional Responsibility or similar terms. The mission of Internal Affairs is to review officer involved critical incidents and investigate complaints received on sworn and non-sworn employees. The investigation is a tool to not only identify wrong-doers but to clear those who are innocent. The investigation should facilitate prompt and just disciplinary action or documented vindication.

There are, of course, departments that use IA’s to intimidate and harass employees management does not favor. In these situations, the police officer’s rights play a crucial role.

If the IA arises from a complaint, the officer has a right to review the complaint before responding to the allegations. Section 614.023(b) of the Texas Government Code provides that “disciplinary action may not be taken against the officer . . . unless a copy of the signed complaint is given to the officer or employee.” TEX. GOV’T CODE § 614.023(b) (emphasis added). Additionally, many departments have enacted general orders affording the officer a right to review the complaint.

Furthermore, before responding to any complaint, public employees are entitled to a GARRITY WARNING. The Garrity Rule stems from the United States Supreme Court decision in Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967). It was a traffic ticket fixing case of all things. By invoking Garrity, the officer is invoking his or her right against self incrimination. Any statements made after invoking Garrity, may only be used for department investigation purposes and not for criminal prosecution purposes.

The GARRITY WARNING is not automatically triggered simply because questioning is taking place. The officer must announce that he or she wants the protections under Garrity. The above statement should be prepared in writing, and the officer should obtain a copy of it. If a written statement is being taken from an officer, the officer should insist that a GARRITY WARNING actually be typed in the statement. Consult your attorney for the laws regarding Garrity before providing any statement.

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