We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is an Internal Affairs Department?

Leigia Rosales
Updated Feb 19, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Police or law enforcement officers are expected to uphold the law and be above reproach. While that is generally the case, just like any other profession, there are some who cross the line or take advantage of their position of authority. For that reason, law enforcement agencies within the United States have an internal affairs department. The primary responsibility of an internal affairs department is to investigate complaints of police misconduct or criminal acts committed by officers. In addition, an internal affairs department will routinely investigate situations where a police officer discharged his or her firearm during the apprehension of a suspect or engaged in a high pursuit chase of a suspect, among other potentially questionable actions.

Within a law enforcement agency, the internal affairs department typically operates almost as a separate agency. Members of the department usually report directly to the Chief of Police or to a civilian review board. Understandably, the detectives who are assigned to the internal affairs department are not always particularly popular among the other officers on the force. Members of the department are all detective-grade officers as a rule.

When a civilian has a complaint against a law enforcement officer, he or she may file a formal complaint with the internal affairs department. Each jurisdiction has its own policies and procedures for filing a complaint; however, procedure must be made available to anyone who wishes to file a complaint in all cases. The complaint will then be passed on to a detective within the department for review. If the detective feels that the complaint merits investigation, then a formal investigation will be opened. The exact procedures for investigating a complaint will vary by department and by the type of complaint filed, but an interview with the complainant and the officer in question is generally a starting point.

If the investigation of a complaint leads the detective in charge to conclude that the officer in question did violate department policy or commit a crime, then he or she will report the finding to the chief of police or to a civilian review board for appropriate action. A law enforcement officer who is found to have violated department policy may face a verbal or written warning, a suspension with or without pay, or even termination of his or her employment. If an officer is found to have committed a crime, then he or she will be charged just as a civilian would be under the same circumstances. All complaints filed, as well as the results, should be recorded in an officer's personnel file.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Leigia Rosales
By Leigia Rosales
Leigia Rosales is a former attorney turned freelance writer. With a law degree and a background in legal practice, she crafts compelling content that informs and engages readers. Her ability to understand complex topics and communicate them effectively makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
Leigia Rosales
Leigia Rosales
Leigia Rosales is a former attorney turned freelance writer. With a law degree and a background in legal practice, she...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.