Are You the Target?
Yourself in Internal Investigations
“Can I talk to you for a minute?”
Many of us end up in the office of our Lieutenant or Captain
for what seems like a casual conversation with this question.
We then learn they want to talk to us about an incident that
occurred on the street or an internal complaint. Or worse, you
may also find yourself in the Professional Standards Office for
this “informal” chat. This can be a very intimidating
situation, even for veteran officers. Now what do you do?
You need to protect yourself by staying cool, calm, and collected,
and ask your inquisitor three simple questions:
- Am I the target of an investigation?
- What policy violations,
if any, are you investigating?
- Are you ordering me to answer
You should then inform them that you would like to have a representative
from the Union with you for the interview. If you are not allowed
to have a Union representative present and you are ordered to
answer questions, obey the order and contact a Board member or
the W.P.P.A. immediately afterwards. You may proceed without
a representative, of course, but it is important to have a witness
with you during an interview to guide you through this seemingly
adversarial experience. We believe that an affirmative answer
to question number 3 will invoke your protections under the “Garrity” decision.
I strongly suggest if the answer to question 3 is anything other
than “Yes” that you politely and professionally decline
to answer questions, leave the office, and contact a Union Board
member immediately. A negative answer regarding being ordered
to answer questions indicates an investigation in which you may
be subject to discipline, termination, or criminal sanctions.
We can’t help you unless you let us know about the investigation.
Let us be the buffer we all need when faced with an accusation.
In any case, if you answer questions, ALWAYS be truthful. The
guaranteed way to termination starts with untruthfulness and
there is nothing we can do to save your job if you lie.
Stay safe and protect yourself, both on and off the street.