The Village Voice says its investigation of the New York Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau has revealed a pattern of “dirty little secrets, witch hunts and just plain incompetence.” The paper says officers describe the secretive police-department-within-a-department as troubled, and it uses three cases to illustrate. For one, all IAB complaints are supposed to be confidential. That rule is necessary because police officers who complain about their colleagues can and do face retaliation. But the reality seems to be that an officer’s home command will find out fairly quickly that an Internal Affairs complaint has been made. Several officers say that shortly after they filed complaints with Internal Affairs, their home commands knew about it and then pursued various types of retaliation against them.
Second, whether big or small, IAB cases seem to plod through the system at the same snail’s pace. There doesn’t seem to be any mechanism to deal quickly with a minor case–an office dispute, for example. Thus, cases drag on, and aggrieved, frustrated cops turn to the courts to resolve their issues. That, in turn, costs the city more money in legal bills and settlements. Third, it’s impossible–even for the people who file the complaints–to find out what was done and what happened with a complaint. Internal Affairs investigators often don’t return complainants’ phone calls.