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A Word About Stalking - Assignment to the Internal Affairs Unit is NOT a License to Stalk an Employee!  

Members of the Internal Affairs Unit are to act professional and impartial at all times.  This includes while effectuating service of Administrative charges on your membership.  

How many times does Internal Affairs show up at a member's residence to serve charges? 

Internal Affairs shows up at your residence and you are not home.  They tell your spouse, child or whoever answers the door to get you on the phone.  They ask you where you are, tell you to come home or worse they tell the person who answers the door to get you on the phone and tell you to come home, all this while all the neighbors are watching.  Is this really necessary?  Is it legal? They could just have easily called you on the phone from their office.  You did not answer?  That is what answering machines are for.   

There are very few instances that justify Internal Affairs presence at a member's residence.  The easiest way to determine if their presence is indeed warranted is to ask yourself, do I need to surrender my weapon and ID immediately?  In other words, if they are not leaving your residence with your weapon and ID, there is no legitimate reason for them to be there.

First of all, Internal Affairs confuses their Administrative charges with criminal charges.  As law enforcement, we all know that even criminal charges do not warrant personal service, many charges are simply placed on a summons and dropped in the mail. Serious charges, which are placed on a Warrant, are more likely to be personally served and in those cases the accused is usually already in custody and the need to apprehend him to prevent physical harm to someone else is a high priority.  Use this as a baseline to determine the need for Internal Affairs to be at a members residence.

Any Administrative charges which are filed simultaneously to criminal charges will result in the immediate surrender of your weapon and ID.  However, even in these instances, the surrender is usually done simultaneous to the arrest, prior to the Administrative charges being drawn up.  If you have already surrendered your weapon and ID, there is no reason for Internal Affairs to show up at your residence with Administrative charges.

There is no Civil Service Rule that mandates personal service.  Service can and should be made by certified mail. In the alternative, if you are already represented by an attorney, the charges can be served on your attorney.  In any event, THERE IS NO REASON FOR INTERNAL AFFAIRS TO BE AT YOUR RESIDENCE!  This is nothing more than an intimidation tactic.  

All officers are required to supply their Departments with a telephone number.  There is no reason why Internal Affairs cannot telphone you and ask you to come to the station to be served.  You are well within your rights to tell them to drop the charges in the mail.  There is no reason to embarrass you in front of your parents, spouse, children and neighbors.  Many officers report the presence of Internal Affairs at their residence to be very stressful and demeaning.  

Officers can advise Internal Affairs during their first interview, when they receive their target letter, how they want to be served in the event that formal charges are brought.  Unions should have standard letters to present at the time of the first interview and make it a standard practice.  Click here for a Standard Service Letter.


Unfortunately, Internal Affairs is a necessary evil in governmental agencies. When done correctly and not politically, this can be an important tool for both the officer and the Department. The Division of Criminal Justice has set forth GUIDELINES which are to be followed when conducting an Internal Affairs Investigation.

There are two types of internal affairs (IA) investigations:

1.    One initiated by a civilian complaint (External); and,

2.    One initiated in-house by a supervisor or fellow officer (Internal).

It should be noted that most External Investigations are dismissed or unfounded, while those initiated internally are more likely to result in disciplinary action. When determining why the external complaints are unfounded and the internal ones upheld one needs to look to the motivation for bringing the complaint in the first place, the Politics.


In the External Complaint the complainant is most likely motivated by the fact that he has been investigated, arrested, ticketed or somehow inconvenienced by the officer he is bringing the complaint against. In reality his complaint is simply a counterclaim used to intimidate the officer and make the charges go away or to deter the officer from picking on him in the future. The investigating agency is quick to realize this and the motivation for the complaint is given great weight in deciding the outcome of the investigation. Even more compelling is the liability that the Department/Agency will incur if they admit wrongdoing on behalf of one of their own. In this situation the officer and the department are working in unison to a common end.


In the Internal Complaint the complainant has ulterior motivation, usually political. In this investigation the motivation of the complainant is given very little weight and the actions of the officer are given the greatest weight in determining the outcome of the investigation. It is in this situation that the targeted officer must be aware of his rights and should be able to articulate the reasons for his actions clearly and repeatedly, making sure that they become part of the record. Internal affairs interviews should be recorded. If at any point in time the investigation appears to be turning towards a criminal investigation it is very important that you articulate same.

You can say - I believe that this is turning into a criminal investigation and would like to invoke my rights and have my lawyer present. If the agency does not comply with your request, your statements will more than likely be inadmissible under the Garrity Rule. Most importantly make the request and make sure the investigator acknowledges that he heard it.


It is important to articulate the reasons for your actions. There is a good, sound reason that you took the action that you did.  Do not let your Department/Agency dictate to you the reasons, only you know what they are. DO NOT LIE! 

  • Go over the thought process you were using when you made the decision you did, there are very few officers that deliberately make bad decisions for bad reasons. It is more likely that you made an unpopular decision for the right reasons and in response to the circumstances surrounding the incident.
  • Be able to articulate them and articulate them repeatedly.
  • The Internal Affairs investigator will attempt to concentrate on the actions that you took.
    • You need to take charge of the investigation and concentrate on the reasons that you could not adhere to policy on this particular occasion. 

Remember policy is developed for the perfect world and the day to day operations of the Agency/Department. It is set as a guideline and created in anticipation of events. Policies are changed all the time when it is discovered that they are impractical and/or ineffective.

Only you know the motivation of the officer(s) initiating the complaint against you, articulate it, make it part of the record. You can say whatever you need to say as long as you do it tactfully. Even though you are the target of the investigation and have every reason to get mad, now is not the time.  Turn it around.

Now is the time to say:

I know (officers name) is having a hard time with (the problem, i.e. Divorce, promotions...etc.) and I would like to help him out, but bringing an internal affairs investigation against me is only going to make things worse. or

You know (officer's name) and I were both dating (name) and ever since then he has been trying to jam me up, I really wish we could sit down to discuss and resolve this issue, instead of wasting the Departments time.

You know (officer's name) and I are both up for promotion, I feel bad that he feels the need to bring these charges and does not have faith in his ability and record to beat me on merit. Whatever the situation is, articulate it and get it in the record.

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.


2015 Excessive Discipline Protection Database