A Guide to Internal Affairs Statements

In FYI, President's Message by rapsheet

For the past twelve years, I have been involved in representing officers in providing statements to Internal Affairs.  So, I’d like to provide a guide for officers who are requested to give statements as either the suspect officer or witness in Internal Investigations.

When you are first notified by an investigator that they are requesting a statement, you receive an e-mail and directions to contact the investigator. At this point, you should contact me, Tom, or your PPA representative and speak to us regarding the specifics of the incident. The best way to contact us is by phone. Our numbers are on the PPA website along with contact numbers for all the PPA union reps. If we don’t answer leave a voicemail with your name, best time to reach you, your phone number, and a brief summary of the incident.

Next, coordinate a time with your PPA rep to discuss the incident and provide the representative with the case number of the incident so that they can research the case prior to meeting with you.

Prior to your interview at the Internal Affairs Division the investigator in charge of your case will provide you with all relevant documents, reports, memos, audio, and video recordings for your review prior to being interviewed. The investigator will also provide you with a Garrity Warning, which is read verbally to you just before providing your statement to the investigator. The Garrity Warning states that you are compelled to provide a statement as a condition of your employment. The statement can only be used against you in internal proceedings and cannot be used against you in criminal cases, except in the case of perjury.

Before your interview, your PPA representative should give you an overview on what would be expected and provide you with some dos and don’ts in answering questions. Think of a statement as giving testimony in court or providing a deposition in a lawsuit.

After you give the investigator a short summary of the incident and you involvement the investigator will ask you specific questions regarding the case. When an investigator asks a question, let them fully complete the question and pause while you think about your answer. This gives you the opportunity to respond clearly and concisely. If you do not understand the question, have the investigator repeat or rephrase it. If an investigator asks a multiple part question that can be answered in multiple ways, have them break it down into single questions.

A key point is to answer only the question asked.  If a question can completely be answered by yes or no, this is encouraged. If you truly do not remember or do not know the answer, they are also very acceptable answers. Never speculate; if you are not sure, do not answer a question by speculation. In addition, if you have sufficiently provided an answer there is no need to expound or elaborate on the answer. The goal is to provide a complete, clear, and concise short answer.

Remember, it is the investigator’s job to ask you the proper question and it is your job to answer the question asked truthfully.

All statements taken in an Internal Affairs interview are tape recorded by the investigator.

As your interview ends, the investigator will ask you if there is anything you want to add to your statements. This is when you may include any mitigating factors or point out any discrepancies or inaccuracies that you felt were presented during your interview.

Once the interview is concluded the investigator will write their summary, have the recording transcribed, and forward all materials to their command staff for review.

One thing that I want all of you to remember NEVER, EVER go to IAD to be interviewed as a witness or a suspect without PPA representation!