Every experienced police officer or deputy sheriff has faced the unsettling prospect of being interviewed as a part of an internal affairs investigation. In most departments three principles appear well settled in cases in which the officer has been protected from criminal charges:
An officer can be ordered to participate in such an investigation; An officer can be required to give a statement, oral or written, at times recorded, transcribed and sworn; Such statements may be used against the officer in later disciplinary proceedings.
Officers in such situations should be informed that they have the right to make a statement protecting their rights. In at least one jurisdiction such a statement has been printed onto the internal affairs statement form; in others the statement has been printed up on wallet sized cards and carried by individual members. Finally, a number of officers have read or written the statement when giving taped interviews, or written on all statements that they sign.
As a condition of employment you are required to abide by the rules and regulations. You must answer questions, give statements, and submit reports at the order of an investigating officer, or become subject to disciplinary action for refusal to obey. It is suggested that you include the procedure outlined here when making statements or submitting reports concerning complaints from citizens, or when you are suspected of a violation of the law or the rules and regulations. By doing so you will ensure that your statements and reports cannot be used as evidence against you in any proceedings before any agency bound by the rules of evidence. The procedure suggested is lawful and proper. Each individual officer must decide for himself if he is going to use it. Our advice is that we all use the procedure all of the time. This way there will be no special stigma on its use.
Remember that it is better to be safe than sorry, and it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and it not have it. No man need be ashamed, nor should he be afraid, to demand and protect his Constitutional rights.
Constitutional Protection Statement:
"On ___________(date) ___________(time) at_____________(place) I was ordered to submit this
report (give this statement) by_____________________(name & rank). I submit this report (give this statement) at his order as a condition of my employment. In view of possible job forfeiture, I have no alternative but to abide by this order."
"It is my belief and understanding that the department requires this report (statement) solely and
exclusively for internal purposes and will not release it to any other agency. It is my further belief that this report (statement) will not and cannot be used against me in any subsequent proceedings. I authorize release of this report to my attorney or designated union representative."
"I retain the right to amend or change this statement upon reflection to correct any unintended mistake without subjecting myself to a charge of untruthfulness."
"For any and all other purposes, I hereby reserve my
constitutional right to remain silent under the FIFTH and FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS
to the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION and any other rights PRESCRIBED by law. Further, I rely specifically upon the
protection afforded me under the doctrines set forth in Garrity