Policing the Police: Managing Integrity and Accountability Through Internal Affairs Investigations

Mize, Courtney
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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)
The public holds law enforcement officers to a higher ethical standard, and rightly so. Officers swear to uphold a code of ethics. The public views the internal affairs division as the first line of defense against police corruption. Internally, however, department personnel view the internal affairs division unenthusiastically. Equally as important as upholding the public trust is keeping the trust of department personnel. Proper internal affairs investigations collect and analyze the facts of the allegations of misconduct by law enforcement without compromising the trust within the department. Law enforcement officers should support internal affairs investigations because it helps maintain integrity and accountability of themselves to the department and the people they serve and because the public demands it. Although there is no one specific model to govern internal affairs investigations, there are guidelines and policies in place to regulate the process. Internal affairs investigations are internal management tools to fortify and preserve professional conduct. They protect the public, the personnel, and the department from themselves and from liability. Establishing well-written policies and values, which are enforced by the department, are fundamental to the foundation of the process and reduces the potential of misunderstanding. The United States Constitution, federal laws, and state laws equally protect officers and citizens from unjust acts. Police subculture does exist and places a stigma on internal affairs investigations. The mindset of the subculture has to change. Agencies must establish organizational socialization from day one of an officer’s career. Taking a proactive role in preventing misconduct is essential to a department and starts with the highest rank.
Police--Personnel Management, Police Misconduct, Police--Community Relations