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NJLawman.com

Wednesday, August 4, 2004  12:00 a.m.

One day you show up for work and are told by a superior that you must report to the Prosecutor’s Office or AG’s Office regarding a case. You appear at the designated time unsure of which of your cases they are preparing for trial. You are brought into a room and made comfortable. As the “host” begins, your stomach drops to your feet with his or her first words: “You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent….”

You can’t hear the rest of this familiar paragraph over the panic inside your head. The only thing you can hear over the panic are the screams of “What the 'F' did I do!?” also inside your head.

This article is designed for good officers in bad situations. It is not designed for those who, out of greed or grudge, tarnish the thousands of acts of kindness and bravery performed by the law enforcement community every day. It is not designed for those who engage in criminal or repugnant behavior.

Good officers do end up as unfair targets as a result of politics, community pressure, political correctness, vendettas, or sometimes the officer’s actions were correct but just look bad.

Just as we are not perfect in how we police others, those who police us are not perfect either. This is not a knock on our IA community either. We have written several previous pieces where we’ve acknowledged how far the IA process has come and crediting those who serve in such a delicate and controversial capacity as well as the IA policy itself.

However, there have been examples of outrageous behavior, violations of officer rights, unnecessarily drawn out investigations, ambush tactics, and other jaw dropping behavior that is sickening.

Back to the article.

If you find yourself in a situation as we described above, you first move is to shut up!

Do not talk, invoke every right, ask for an attorney, request your delegate, ask for an aspirin, but shut up.

You are in over your head, and you need to realize that from the onset. When Miranda is read or a job-threatening investigation is underway, you need to bring in help from the outside. Preparing a cute defense with your digital camera, excerpts from your rules and regulations, citations from cases and statutes, all wrapped up in a masterpiece submission are all fine and well for when you back the company car into a fence but not when the stakes are this high.

This initial interview (or interrogation) is where cases and careers are won and lost. Shut up and get out!

Obviously, you should be as polite and as cordial as possible in all your dealings with those running the investigation. You don’t want to make it personal.

After you make your “escape,” you next move is to contact an attorney. Not your buddy, not your old academy friend, not a trusted superior, you need to contact an attorney.

Do not choose the guy who did you closing, do not choose the guy who will give you a bust, and do not choose the guy with whom you grew up.

Every county has a local, former Prosecutor’s Office or AG lawyer who is well-respected and known for -being able to make some calls and learn what the investigation is about. This attorney might be good in the beginning, but if the case is going to the mat, you want the guy who wins. You want the pit bull.

The problem with the first one is that he may be hesitant in doing anything that may jeopardize his or her relationship with the investigating authority.

Your attorney’s only goal should be to clear your innocent name by all means possible!

Now that you’ve taken care of your legal interests, you need to take care of yourself. High-profile IA investigations can take a massive toll on officers. Whether you think you need it or not, you need to get counseling. If nothing else, it will help keep you grounded during the ordeal.

We could drag this article on, but we’ve covered the most important part; the beginning. After you have secured an attorney, you should be following his or her advice, not ours.

The NJLawman.com website has also created a page devoted to Internal Affairs resources. To view the page, click here.

NJLawman.com

 

 

Send us your comments  on this article, and we'll  post them below.

NJLawman.com reserves the right to alter, shorten, or decline any submission.

Note:  If you want your name, agency, email address, etc. posted, you must include it with your submission.  Otherwise, we will list you as anonymous.  

 

Your Views

 

January 26, 2006

Having worked in IA at the Pros. Office, and now working in major crimes, this article is on point!  keep up the great work!

Anonymous

 

October 26, 2004

This article is point in case for me. I was the target of an IA, and my department attempted to take it criminal. Let them build their case, don't help them.

I went through the ringer.  Demoted, suspended, terminated then reinstated. Now, since my dept appealed the Supreme Court ruling, I'm waiting for the Appellate Court to make its ruling.  Get a lawyer. "He who defends himself has a fool for a lawyer"!

          -S.S.

 

October 22, 2004

Problem is that most guys want to trust their dept. They don't believe that someone from inside law enforcement would actively attempt to have them fired or charged. The first step to surviving is to have it in your contract that your PBA rep is notified by the dept. prior to a member being questioned. You then have an objective person in the room who is not afraid for his job. It doesn't hurt any invest to have an extra body in the room for questioning.

          -Frank Lynch
          -Pennington PD

 

August 23, 2004

This Article is right to the point and a agree 100% it.  I am a police officer in a large suburban/urbanizing dept. in NJ. I am also a PBA rep. and we see to many officers blind sided by there own dept. and a core the political motivated prosecutors office.  There should be more legislation in the state of NJ and nationally to protect officers rights in these types of situations.  the truth is most officers will be involved in something like this during there career, and if mistakes are made the officers live could be changed as fast a s a bullet out of a criminals gun.

          -Anonymous

 

 

 

 

Last Report

 

MORE EFFORT NEEDED TO STOP

 OFFICER IMPERSONATION

 

NJLawman.com

Wednesday, June 9, 2004  12:00 a.m..

In recent weeks we’ve noticed a disturbing trend of arrests for impersonating a police officer. Most of these incidents take place on motor vehicle stops. Upon being stopped, offenders produce a badge which they purchased somewhere, often from the Internet or a police supply store that doesn’t ask for department letterhead as required by New Jersey law.

The incidents where arrests are made usually take place when the officer effecting the stop asks to see an agency identification in addition to the badge. The problem is, many of us never bother to do this.

 

Why we Don't Check Further

Simply, we are not thorough enough in confirming a stopped officer’s identity because we don't want to offend a fellow officer. While it is commendable that we look out for each other like this, we also do a disservice to ourselves. Unscrupulous drivers are portraying themselves as police officers and getting away with it.

Sometimes we don’t make enough effort out of complacency. The officer effecting the stop wants to set up again and rushes too quickly through the interview.

 

How to Change it

It should become the practice of all off-duty officers being stopped to identify themselves by agency badge and agency identification. Additionally, they should be prepared to answer some basic questions and even provide the telephone number to their agency if requested.

Again, the goal of this is not to inconvenience anyone. It is to identify those falsely and criminally claiming to be law enforcement officers.

If a stopped officer doesn’t volunteer the appropriate credentials, it is up to the stopping officer to obtain both forms of identification and follow up with questions and or a phone call if needed.

In cases where a stopped officer doesn’t have one or both forms of their identification, the stopping officer should be making a call to his or her department for identity confirmation.

The most important part of all of this is for the officer being stopped not to catch an attitude. Professional courtesy begins with the officer being stopped, not with the officer making the stop.

Confirming a stopped officer's identity is especially important in today's world with homeland security concerns. 

To help get the word out, please copy and email this report to every officer in your address book.

NJLawman.com

 

 


 

 

 

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