REPRESENTATIVES JOB BEFORE AND AFTER THE INTERROGATION
By telephone, or in person, make an initial inquiry into the general nature of the incident including the number of other officers involved. Preliminarily determine whether there is a potential for a conflict of interest between the involved parties (finger pointing).
During your conversation with the member, determine the status of the investigation and whether an interview date has been scheduled.
During your conversation with the member, evaluate the member=s anxiety level including feelings towards the seriousness of pending investigation.
If an interrogation needs to be scheduled, contact the investigator to arrange for a mutually convenient date and time for the interview. Then arrange for a conference with the member prior to the interview date to fully review the complaint or allegations.
Have your member make copies of any pertinent reports or other written material relating to the subject matter of investigation. Review them carefully
Prior to ending your initial conversation with the member, remind him or her not to discuss the incident with others without first contacting you. Also, remind the member of his right to not answer any questions, orally or in writing, without consulting with you first. Provide the member with appropriate telephone numbers to reach you in the event additional concerns need to be discussed.
Either prior to or following your meeting with the member, evaluate the appropriateness of attempting to gain additional information regarding the investigation from other sources in an effort to assess the facts of the investigation and mitigating circumstances. Explain to the member that what is discussed is confidential between you and the member, except criminal matters. (Always consult with and use an attorney where potential criminal conduct is involved).
During your conference with the member, have the member describe everything remembered relating to the incident. Ask questions to gain clarification of the sequence of events and actions of the involved parties. If aspects of the story lack clarity or do not seem plausible, probe further.
During discussions with the member, gain an insight into how serious the member considers the investigation and the extent of his or her involvement in the incident.
Explain the procedural aspects of an administrative investigation including what the member might expect during the interview process. Explain your role during that process. Discuss with the member the obligation to be truthful.
Discuss with the member his or her demeanor during the interview process and how varying types of answers can be misconstrued and should be avoided.
Tape-record the entire interrogation. Advise your member not to separately record it. Advise members he/she can listen to the interrogation again at a later time.
Prepare the member for your involvement, including objections, and what to expect. Inform the member of his/her right to consult with you during the questioning as necessary.
At the conclusion of the interview process meet privately with the member as a form of "debriefing." Explain to the member what can be expected next during the investigative process.
Remind the member to not discuss the subject of the investigation with others and to also contact you if the member hears anything regarding the status of the investigation.
Periodically contact the member to determine whether there has been any change in the status of the investigation.
Emphasize to the member to contact you immediately upon receipt of any notices from department. Never let the member assume you have been copied on or received the notice.
Refer member to an association attorney as appropriate.
Consult with an association attorney about any questions you may have or if doubts exist about your ability to continue to represent the member.
Remember, the administrative interview is usually the most important part of your department=s investigation. It can also be the most damaging aspect of your member=s response to the investigation.
Most IA's which result in disciplinary action are based on what was said during the administrative interrogation and not necessarily on the underlying facts of the incident. In other words, your department=s case against your member may be based on his responses rather than merely on written reports of the incident or citizen complaint.
An increasingly common approach by police departments to try to circumvent the Act and avoid representative involvement in the case is to issue a written directive to the officer to respond in writing to an attached citizen=s complaint. Your member is entitled to representation and consultation prior to and when writing a responsive memo or report to a citizen=s complaint (and all other administrative inquires).