When a police officer has an allegation of wrongdoing made against them, he or she is understandably anxious to understand what is going on and take the appropriate steps. One of the most stressful parts of the process is when an officer has to testify as part of the investigation. At this point, it is strongly advised that the officer consult with an attorney who has experience specific to administrative investigations. Here are some key points police officers subject to an administrative investigation should keep in mind when preparing for the investigative process.
- Confine answers to the scope of the question being asked. When an officer is asked a question as part of the investigation, he or she should answer directly and honestly. However, the best course is generally to not add additional testimony or justifications. It is not advisable for the officer to volunteer information or answers that were not requested, as this is not necessary and can often do more harm than good.
- Remain calm and collected throughout the process. Do not be defensive. Maintaining one’s composure during the proceedings can be a huge benefit. Taking a defensive or aggressive posture can weaken the officer’s testimony and undermine their credibility.
- When it comes to testimony, there is no such thing as over preparing. Before testifying, an officer should carefully review any and all relevant evidence, reports, documentation, witness accounts. Know the facts of the case or incident inside and out, and be prepared to answer hard questions.
- In conjunction with number 1, keep answers succinct and on point. Simple yes or no answers can oftentimes be the most effective and appropriate.
- Don’t neglect your appearance. Make sure that your dress, grooming, etc. help your credibility rather than undermine it.