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Release Of Disciplinary Records Does Not Violate Constitution

Responding to the police reform movement, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced in June that he would end New Jersey’s decades-long practice of shielding the identities of law enforcement officers receiving major discipline for misconduct. Believing he could best improve the public’s trust in state and local police by instilling greater accountability in the processes that govern officer misconduct, the Attorney General issued Law Enforcement Directive Numbers 2020-5…

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Inadvertent Recording Of Calls On Police Line Does Not Violate Wiretap Laws

In November 2016, the Grand Rapids Police Department dispatched an officer to a car accident site. The driver of the car, a Kent County assistant prosecutor, drove down a one-way street and struck a parked car. The on-scene officer called Lieutenant Matthew Janiskee on a recorded, public line – Line 3604 – and explained the accident; Janiskee responded that the officer should hang up and call him on a…

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Internal Affairs Findings Not Admissible In Civil Lawsuit Against Officer

In 2013, Keith Manson was riding his dirt bike on Flint Street in New Haven, Connecticut. At the same time, Daniel Conklin, an on-duty New Haven police officer, was driving his marked police cruiser on Flint Street, in the opposite direction in which Manson was traveling. As Conklin drove down Flint Street, he observed a father with his young child playing in the street. To provide sufficient space to…

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Court Upholds Officer’s $500k Judgment Against Sergeant

Officer Detlef Sommerfield works for the Chicago Police Department. Sommerfield was born and raised in Germany, where some of his family members had died in concentration camps during the Holocaust. At some point he emigrated to the United States, settled in Chicago, and joined the CPD. His supervisor was Sergeant Lawrence Knasiak. As the federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals described it, “for years, Sommerfield endured vicious anti-Semitic abuse…

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Q&A

From Louisiana:Question: During an IA investigation, an employee asked for a meeting with his union representative. At this meeting, the employee admitted fault to the policy he is being written up for but wants to know what to do next. The question is, are we obligated to report this to IA and if IA finds out he admitted it to me as the union representative, am I held to…

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Internal Complaints About Quota System Not Constitutionally Protected

Derek Cid was a police officer for Riley County, Kansas. Cid’s sergeant sent an email to the officers he supervised providing each officer’s arrest statistics. The sergeant’s email recognized that self-initiated stops and activity had increased, but he also warned officers that they had missed their DUI “goal” of 105 for two quarters in a row. Sergeant Bortnick told officers that they needed to “buckle down” to meet the…

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Fact Witness Cannot Also Conduct Internal Affairs Investigation

While on patrol, two Oakland, California police officers witnessed what appeared to be a drug transaction. A subsequent stop of one of the suspects gave the officers cause to detain the suspect and led to the recovery of cash and illegal drugs in the vicinity of the suspect. During his detention, the suspect claimed he did not feel well and the officers summoned medical support on his behalf. The…

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Q & A

From Montana Question: Can the County Attorney’s office legally maintain possession of an internal investigation file of a Deputy in which a district court judge deemed was not Brady material? Answer: Unless there’s something to the contrary in Montana state law or in the County’s ordinances and codes, we see no prohibition that would bar the County Attorney from holding onto the IA file. However, whether the County Attorney…

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Union Lacks Right To Record IA Interviews

Many peace officer bills of rights allow employee representatives to record disciplinary interviews. Even in the absence of a statutory bill of rights, a collective bargaining agreement can grant a labor organization the right to record interviews. But what if there is no statutory bill of rights, and the collective bargaining agreement is silent on the issue of recording? Is there some sort of recording right that springs out…

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Q & A

From Washington Question: Are you familiar with cases where IA investigator pre-interviews complainant for two hours before going on tape but makes no reference to the pre-interview or provides any notes on the pre-interview in the IA file? Answer: This is a practice that used to be fairly common, but by now has largely disappeared in the name of transparency of the IA process. We wouldn’t recommend it. From…

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Q & A

From Illinois Question: I represent (mostly unionized) police officers in Illinois and am dealing with Garrity situations on a daily basis. I represent one small organization of railway police officers who are organized under the National Railway Labor Act (RLA). This set of laws is often quite different from NLRB/IPLRA cases (including no ULP/Weingarten charge available). I ran into a situation yesterday where the Railway was unfamiliar with Garrity…

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Q & A

From Illinois Question: I represent (mostly unionized) police officers in Illinois and am dealing with Garrity situations on a daily basis. I represent one small organization of railway police officers who are organized under the National Railway Labor Act (RLA). This set of laws is often quite different from NLRB/IPLRA cases (including no ULP/Weingarten charge available). I ran into a situation yesterday where the Railway was unfamiliar with Garrity…

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County Ordered to Produce Audio Tapes of Officers’ IA Statements in Wrongful Death Case

In 2006, Suffolk County, New York police officers engaged in a high-speed pursuit of a DUI suspect. During the pursuit, the suspect crashed his vehicle into a house, killing William Calhoun. The Internal Affairs Bureau of the Suffolk County Police Department conducted an investigation into the incident. Brian Calhoun, as administrator of the Calhoun Estate, sued the Department for wrongful death. During the litigation, Calhoun requested the Department’s IA…

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No Remedy For Violation Of IA Non-Disclosure Law

Michigan has a statute, known as MCL 15.395, that provides that Garrity statements made by employees pursuant to an employer’s orders are “confidential communications.” As two former officers for the City of Portage Police Department learned, simply having protections under a statute doesn’t necessarily mean there is a remedy if those protections are violated. Officers Douglas Louis and James Myers were involved in internal affairs investigations, and gave compelled…

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The Interplay Between Garrity And Weingarten

In July 2009, the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) was investigating allegations of misbehavior against a PSP member. As part of that investigation, IAD interviewed Corporal Edmund Fret. At the outset of the interview, the IAD representative gave Fret a “reverse-Garrity” warning. In the warning, PSP ordered Fret to answer questions, and advised him that his answers and the fruits of his answers would…

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Police Union Denied Access To Investigation Of Deputy Chief

In January 2005, an officer in the South Portland, Maine Police Department filed a complaint with the City’s director of human resources. In his complaint, the officer named the deputy police chief, alleging harassment, discrimination, and a hostile work environment. In response to the complaint, the director of human resources conducted an internal investigation. In March 2005, the director issued a report containing her findings. No disciplinary action was…

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Q & A

From Arizona Question: During an Administrative Investigation, can an employee of equal rank question you? (i.e., a police sergeant interview a police sergeant). Answer: Unless there’s a provision in a collective bargaining agreement or local law to the contrary, we know of no prohibition on individuals performing internal affairs investigations on other employees of equal rank. From California Question: Can a department prohibit its officers from going to Hooters…

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NYPD Prohibited From Conducting IA Investigation Into Sergeants’ FLSA Testimony

A group of approximately 4300 current and former New York City police sergeants sued the City of New York claiming systematic violations of their overtime rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Because of the sheer volume of plaintiffs, the City and the Plaintiffs agreed in May of 2005 to limit depositions to “test plaintiffs” – individuals from 17 job categories, who would be organized into three groups. In…

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Employer’s Decision To Voluntarily Reinstate Officer Ends Possibility Of Appeal

Alexei E. Sviridov, a police officer with the San Diego Police Department, was charged with child abuse based on his teenage daughter’s accusation that he struck her. A jury found Sviridov guilty of battery and he was placed on probation and fined. Sviridov appealed his conviction, and while his criminal appeal was pending, investigators for the Department asked Sviridov whether he had struck his daughter. Sviridov denied his daughter’s…

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Polygraph Not Admissible In Wrongful Discharge Lawsuit Filed In Federal Court

Dan Dixon was employed as a lieutenant by the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Police Department. In June 2009, at the conclusion of an internal department investigation into allegations that Dixon had falsified timekeeping records and manipulated a subordinate officer’s work schedule, the Police Chief recommended that Dixon’s employment be terminated by the City. On June 24, 2009, following a pre-termination hearing, the City’s Personnel Officer determined that in lieu of…

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Firefighter’s Compelled Display Of Insulation Violates Fourth Amendment

Nicholas Delia is a firefighter with the City of Rialto, California. On August 10, 2006, Delia began to feel ill while working to control a toxic spill. He was then transported to a hospital emergency room for evaluation. There, a doctor gave him an off-duty work order for three work shifts. The doctor, however, did not place any activity restrictions on Delia. On August 15, 2006, the City became…

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Significant Garrity Decision From Georgia Supreme Court

A Georgia police officer’s indictment for murder has produced an important decision on whether a seemingly voluntary statement can be considered to be “coerced” for purposes of Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967). At approximately 3:15 a.m. on September 12, 2006, the DeKalb County, Georgia Police Department received a 911 call reporting a stolen motor vehicle from an apartment complex. When officers arrived, they learned that the…

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Referring Ballot Measure To Voters Is Not Unfair Labor Practice

Since 2004, the City of Eugene, Oregon has had a civilian police auditor generally involved in the internal affairs process. The implementing ordinance provided that the City Council “may” authorize the auditor to have access to all internal affairs evidence and to participate in interviews. In 2008, the City Council referred to the voters a ballot measure that changed the word “may” to “shall.” The Eugene Police Employees Association…

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Compelled Internal Affairs Interview Not ‘Seizure’ For Fourth Amendment Purposes

Lawrence Goodine was a police officer for the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee. In early 2007, after complaints from several suspects, the Department’s Internal Affairs division began investigating Goodine. On March 7, 2007, Internal Affairs officers approached Goodine during roll call and ordered him to accompany them back to their offices. Goodine was escorted into a police vehicle and driven to another location. Internal Affairs officers then advised Goodine in…

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‘Gross Error’ Required To Reverse Arbitrator’s Decision In Alaska

The termination of a four-year officer of the Airport Police and Fire Department of the Alaska Department of Transportation gave the Alaska Supreme Court the opportunity to revisit the standard used to evaluate arbitrators’ opinions. The termination was based on two events that occurred in May 2006 while the officer was working at the Alaska Law Enforcement Academy in Sitka, Alaska, and on the officer’s conduct during the subsequent…

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