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Quality of Investigations: 22 Criteria

Competence of Investigators

Self-evidently, investigators need to have: (i) the necessary training (that is, they need to have successfully undertaken an investigator’s course); (ii) the relevant experience (that is, they need to have undertaken a reasonable number of complaints or similar investigations); (iii) the required aptitude (for example, they need to have displayed the necessary capacity for logical thinking and open mindedness); and (iv) demonstrable expertise (for example, they need to have successfully completed previous investigations).[1] Accordingly, competence and performance indicators (for example, audits of the investigator’s past investigator reports, prosecution outcomes, complainee and complainant’s degrees of satisfaction) need to be developed to determine what counts as a competent investigator. These should be applied to investigators in a systematic and objective manner. Experts also emphasize that internal investigations require specialist training:

Inevitably, many of the anti-corruption investigations require highly specialised skills and equipment. It is important that all staff deployed in these investigations are appropriately trained, and the UK’s HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary 1999: 10) recommends that such training should meet national standards and be accredited accordingly. It should also be noted that competence is to some extent relative to the person to be investigated. Presumably, other things being equal, a novice investigator should not be assigned the task of undertaking the investigation of a serious complaint made against a police officer who is him/herself a highly experienced investigator.

Incentives need to be in place, in the form of promotion or career-enhancing experience, to attract high quality investigators from other parts of the organization— especially given that, historically, the role of internal investigator has been shunned in many police organizations. In Los Angeles, the Rampart Inquiry report in fact recommended that the Los Angeles Police Department’s Internal Affairs Group halt the system of open application to investigator positions and, instead, “hand pick” the best detectives: “those selected for these assignments must be guaranteed retention of their advanced pay-grade position and given preference of assignment upon completion of their IAG assignment” (Rampart Inquiry 2000: 337).

  • [1] The foregoing requirements suggest that those who are deployed in internal investigations should(a) have first gained some investigative experience in non-police-related investigations, and (b) beassigned to low-level internal investigations before being given major responsibility for high-levelinternal investigations.
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