While the job of law enforcement is to protect the public, the police are not perfect. If you have had a negative experience with law enforcement and believe they have engaged in misconduct, you have the right to file for an investigation against their behavior. However, police misconduct investigations may vary from case to case, and there’s no “one size fits all” approach. As a result, it will be most efficient for you to seek experienced legal guidance.
As a former public defender, Attorney Nellie L. King has significant experience with law enforcement litigation and can work one-on-one with you to frame a strong and compelling claim for investigating police misconduct.
The Internal Affairs unit of law enforcement primarily exists to receive, process, and investigate complaints made against employees of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. When they receive a complaint, they will initiate a thorough and timely investigation of the allegation(s) contained in the complaint. All complaints are processed and reviewed by the Division of Internal Affairs and submitted to the Sheriff of Palm Beach County for review and final disposition.
The most integral and time-consuming part of examining a claim of police misconduct is the internal investigation. This is a formal process for obtaining information and supporting materials relevant to the allegations, complaints, or violations posed. Internal investigations are required when a member of law enforcement is accused of acts of misconduct that may result in their suspension, demotion, or dismissal.
Following a claim of police misconduct received by Internal Affairs, an initial review will examine the expressed concern, which may not identify a specific subject or violation but does identify a program area or project in which there are allegations of questionable actions. This investigative review is often conducted as a preliminary step to determine if the issue warrants an internal investigation. The preliminary inquiry will do so by assessing the allegation or complaint to determine whether there is credible factual information to reasonably suspect that an administrative violation has occurred.
Depending on the allegation, an inquiry may involve:
When a complaint is received, the Office of Inspector General, who is responsible for conducting and coordinating internal investigations, will:
Note that for each internal investigation, interviews are conducted with the complainant(s), with exceptions documented, and with the witnesses, with exceptions documented. They are interviewed regarding all allegations prior to case completion, again with exceptions documented.
If you wish to file a police misconduct claim, it is in your best interest to seek experienced legal counsel. While some cases may be quick, others could last longer and require significant information from the claimant and witnesses throughout the investigation process. A good attorney can help you navigate the internal investigation process, as well as build a strong claim rooted in the law.