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Resilience of Investigator

Historically, the role of internal affairs investigator has been spurned by many police, who have seen it as a form of “catching and killing one’s own”. In addition, investigative expertise is often possessed by those who are being investigated, and police culture is secretive and fraternal. These factors make the role of internal affairs investigator psychologically demanding, especially if it is undertaken over lengthy periods of time. Accordingly, internal affairs investigators need to have a high degree of psychological resilience, including a capacity to resist external pressure.

Independence of Investigator

Clearly the investigator needs to be independent and, importantly, needs to be seen to be independent. There are at least three respects in which the independence of the investigator might be compromised:

  • (a) Institutional dependence (Miller and Blackler 2005: 33-37). Such a problem arises when, for example, police from a given police organization investigate complaints of systemic police corruption within that organization. Some have argued that serious police corruption within a police organization should not be investigated by members of that organization; instead, investigators from an outside organization should be used.
  • (b) Conflict of interest (Miller et al. 2005: 47-49). This issue arises when, for example, an investigator investigates a complaint against a relative. The notion of a conflict of interest involves the following: (i) one person, P1, is required to exercise judgment in relation to another person, P2, (as occurs when P1 investigates a complaint made by P3 against P2) and (ii) P1 has a special interest tending to interfere with P1’s proper exercise of his or her judgment in relation to P2. The special interest in question can be a personal interest (for example, P2 is a relative) or a conflicting role interest (for example, P2 is P1’s immediate superior).
  • (c) Bias. This problem occurs when, for example, a police investigator investigates a complaint of corruption by a non-police complainant against a workmate of the investigator. Strictly speaking, this does not necessarily involve a conflict of interest, because the investigating officer might not have a special interest in the required sense. Indeed, one might reasonably expect police to resist any temptation to be unduly influenced by the fact that the person being investigated is merely a workplace colleague. On the other hand, in these situations there might be a tendency for bias or, at least, the appearance thereof.

In relation to each of the above, performance indicators might be developed to mitigate such problems (Prenzler and Lewis 2005).

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