I recently read a post addressing this issue from the Simple Justice blog about the Garrity Rule. The Garrity rule governs internal investigations for specific governmental employees; under the Garrity rule a public employee can be forced to admit criminal activity during a police investigation because they could be disciplined or fired for not speaking. However, those incriminating statements cannot be used in a prosecution of the criminal case. Each state has different laws- some are more favorable to police officers than others. For example in California, the Government Code contains the Peace Officers Bill of Rights which require, among numerous other provisions, that a police officer's interrogation(s) be conducted at a reasonable hour and any off duty officer will be paid for being present at the interview during off duty hours. North Carolina does not have such police friendly legislation as this but the Garrity Rule is still in effect.
In light of recent events in Charlotte, including a Mecklenburg County Police Officer accused of multiple counts of sexual assaults and another police officer facing domestic violence charges, this portion of the Simple Justice Blog gave me thought:
So why are police officers given special treatment? Is a crime by a police officer less of a crime, less harmful, less significant than a crime committed by anyone else? Is the harm to the victim less painful? Is the harm to society less worthy of prosecution? It might well be argued that a crime committed by a cop is more significant, more blameworthy. After all, we give cops an enormous amount of power and authority, and if they can't be trusted to conduct themselves lawfully, it's a far bigger problem than crime in general. If anything, cops should be held to a higher standard of behavior by virtue of their oath and position.Every state has different protections. I should note that North Carolina does not have the generous statute that California affords police officers. However, it will be an uphill battle for a Charlotte criminal defense attorney to get access to internal investigation records from any police officer investigation. Hypothetically, if a person was facing criminal charges in Mecklenburg County, such as a DWI/DUI, and the arresting police officer was subject to an ongoing internal investigation by Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, the criminal defendant wouldn't necessarily have access to police officer statements made during the internal investigation which could potentially reflect a highly compromised investigation.