Internal affairs (law enforcement)
The internal affairs division of a law enforcement agency
Law enforcement agency
In North American English, a law enforcement agency is a government agency responsible for the enforcement of the laws.Outside North America, such organizations are called police services. In North America, some of these services are called police while others have other names In North American...

 investigates incidents and plausible suspicions of lawbreaking
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

 and professional misconduct
A misconduct is a legal term meaning a wrongful, improper, or unlawful conduct motivated by premeditated or intentional purpose or by obstinate indifference to the consequences of one's acts....

 attributed to officers on the force. In different systems, internal affairs can go by another name such as "professional standards," "inspectorate general
Inspector General
An Inspector General is an investigative official in a civil or military organization. The plural of the term is Inspectors General.-Bangladesh:...

", Office of Professional Responsibility
Office of Professional Responsibility
The Office of Professional Responsibility is part of the United States Department of Justice responsible for investigating attorneys employed by the DOJ who have been accused of misconduct or crimes in their professional functions...

 or similar.

Several police departments in the USA have been compelled to institute civilian review or investigation of police misconduct complaints in response to community perception that internal affairs investigations are biased in favor of police officers. For example, San Francisco, California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, has its Office of Citizen Complaints, created by voter initiative in 1983, in which civilians who have never been members of the San Francisco Police Department
San Francisco Police Department
The San Francisco Police Department, also known as the SFPD and San Francisco Department Of Police, is the police department of the City and County of San Francisco, California...

 investigate complaints of police misconduct filed against members of the San Francisco Police Department. Washington, DC, has a similar office, created in 1999, known as the Office of Police Complaints.

Due to the sensitive nature of this responsibility, in many departments, officers working internal affairs are not in a detective
A detective is an investigator, either a member of a police agency or a private person. The latter may be known as private investigators or "private eyes"...

 command, but report directly to the agency's chief, or to a board of civilian police commissioner
Police commissioner
Commissioner is a senior rank used in many police forces and may be rendered Police Commissioner or Commissioner of Police. In some organizations, the commissioner is a political appointee, and may or may not actually be a professional police officer. In these circumstances, there is often a...


Internal Affairs investigators are bound by stringent rules when conducting their investigations. In California, the Peace Officers Bill of Rights (POBR) is a mandated set of rules found in the Government Code.

See also

  • Police Complaints Authority
    Police Complaints Authority
    The Police Complaints Authority , was an independent body in the United Kingdom with the power to investigate public complaints against the Police in England and Wales as well as related matters of public concern...

  • Office of Police Integrity
    Office of Police Integrity
    The Office of Police Integrity is a Victorian independent police oversight and anti-corruption agency established by the Victorian Government in November 2004...

  • Provost
    Provost (military police)
    Provosts are military police whose duties are policing solely within the Armed Forces, as opposed to Gendarmerie duties in the civilian population. However, many countries use their gendarmerie for provost duties....

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