The fourth book of the Lawman Series is still in rough draft, and already there’s been a shuffling of characters, their jobs, and so on.
One of the biggest changes is (surprise) Will Diaz becomes Sheriff! When Sheriff Madril develops cancer, he becomes too ill to effectively handle the office. Will has been wearing the hat of Under-sheriff (think XO on a ship) and he’s been running the day to day operations of the department.
When it becomes clear that the Sheriff won’t be returning to active duty anytime soon, the county commissioners hold a meeting and give Will the job.
What that means for Will is he has to hand off some of the hats he’s been wearing.
Someplace between Book 3 – The Judas Tree and Book 4, Pam Harmon had a run in with her city council and decided it was best to leave. She’s been a Town Marshal, a former Marine MP, and worked MPI while in the Marines. She also has a history with the Sheriff’s Office and is well respected. Will hires her to be the new Under-sheriff, effectively making her second in command. Her job is to run the the operations side of everything which includes Dispatch and Patrol.
He then promotes RJ his long time friend and partner to Captain of the Detective division. this puts RJ in charge of investigations to include covert. He also hires several new patrolman and a new detective.
Several months later, the former Sheriff has gone into remission. Will was hoping to get rid of the Sheriff’s Badge, but Tony has put in his paperwork for retirement.
Will talks him into taking a part time job as both a Crime Information Analyst and in charge of Internal Affairs.
Internal Affairs is a position that is designed not to make very many friends. The cops tiptoe around the Internal Affairs Officer and the general public thinks he or she is there to just bless whatever had happened.
In a lot of ways, Internal Affairs is the conscience of a Law Enforcement Department. Anytime an officer or a subject is injured, or worse, a police officer kills someone, Internal Affairs in charged with investigating the incident.
Every department should have rules and regulations on things like use of force. What is the acceptable level of use of force given certain parameters. And example. We have an individual who has killed several people, is armed, and threatening to kill more as he runs. He attempts to fire on the officers who are trying to stop him. Is that acceptable use of force?
The answer is yes. The officers have a right to defend themselves.
Same idea, only this guy didn’t kill anyone. He shoplifted a six pack of beer and is running from the police on foot. Use of deadly force shouldn’t even enter into the equation. The officer is still allowed to pursue, possibly knock the man down, and cuff him and take him to jail.
Now here’s a place cops get themselves into trouble. They seem to forget the moment they have the cuffs on the guy, he becomes their responsibility. If in the course of knocking the guy down he got injured, it’s important that person be given medical care. In large facilities, they may have a doctor or medical personnel that will screen the inmate. In Will’s case, they have to take the subject to ER.
The Internal Affairs officer has to look at the amount of force used. Was tackling the guy justified? In this case, probably so.
But let’s say the officer takes a few extra steps after he got the guy down, and smacks him around a little with a night stick. If an allegation of that comes up, then Internal Affairs has to get the bottom of the matter. If it happened, he or she has to prove it. They’ll try to find witnesses, look a physical evidence, medical reports, etc. All in all, it’s a process that will take some time.
And when you’re dealing with a civilian population that sees cases wrapped up in an hour on TV, that makes the job of Internal Affairs very difficult.
From there, a recommendation can be made. Usually, the use of force is found to be justified. But sometimes, the officer was wrong, as in striking a man who is down with a nightstick. If so, a recommendation is made. Maybe the officer needs additional training (in this case, probably not), or maybe they need to have criminal charges brought against them (probably yes). If the latter is the case, the Internal Affairs officer would handle the case just like they would against anyone else.
The trouble with Internal Affairs is often times it’s viewed as the fox watching the hen house. There have been instances where that has been the case. Ideally, it should be part of the department, but off on its own orbit. In the event of misconduct, the county coroner has the authority to apprehend the Sheriff. Since most coroners aren’t law enforcement officers, they might be the ones who advise the Sheriff he or she is under arrest, but it’s the Internal Affairs Officer that would put the cuffs on and handle the criminal case.
Will describes the position to Tony this way. “You’re answerable to three things. The law, your moral compass, and God. The only supervision detail I have is signing your time sheet and expense report.”
Tony also watches for ethics violations. In one rather small chapter, he finds himself investigating one of the deputies. Supposedly, some one stole the deputies personal car, and ran it into the front of a house. Of course the driver ran.
Tony knows the deputy was the guy driving the car, and that he and his friend were out being stupid out of season (translation – drinking and driving). The accident is actually in the purview of the State Patrol, but Tony sits down and explains something to the young man.
“As a police officer, being honest is the only weapon you really have. The trooper will talk to you, you may deny it, and he may never push for charges.
“That said, your word as a man will always be questioned.
“If you did it, take your responsibility as a man. If you didn’t, prove you didn’t.”
The young deputy takes his lumps and comes out learning something.
Internal Affairs, properly run, can be an incredible tool for not only safeguarding the department, but keeping the officers honest, and protecting the rights of civilians.