The Peace Officers Bill of Rights

The Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights

Important facts made in the case study 

The Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights, (POBR) lays down the rules that direct the questioning of police officers who are under investigation for crimes they might have committed.  The bill protects the officers in questioning against self-incrimination from statements they make. The POBR versions in different states are not uniform, in that while some protect firefighters, deputy sheriffs, corrections officers and police chiefs, others are silent on whom to protect, with specific rights and prohibitions codified into state statutes in some states only.

Only a few call for disciplinary hearing or appeal board members to be sworn peace officers. These laws are either superseding or be subordinate to collective bargaining agreements. The desirable adoption method of POBR is dependent on state law, historical labor practices and political considerations that may be categorical, to the state in question.

This case study has raised important issues because to try to break the stalemate on those opposed to POBR legislation. These issues include having the decisional law getting into application by recognizing employee rights. Schmidt (2005) argues that, if the recognition of a right or the adoption of a practice is unlikely to damage or delay the investigative process, the union’s position usually was accepted for instance allowing an employee to audio record an interview. 

It would encourage professionalism from management and employees, and ensure uniformity of conferring rights and responsibilities to employees. It also suggests that civilians get inclusion within its limits so that the tasks originally done by peace officers are, delegated to civilian employees and at the same time recognizing new ways of implementing the POBR bill. The rights should, be established by either statute, amendment of charter, civil service rules or through the collective bargaining process of the union.

Decisions made in the case study

This case study went into a great length to establish decisions to put into consideration in the process of investigating an officer. These decisions specify that if an officer does not report a criminal act committed by a colleague, then they be subject to firing or punishment. Such information shall be in written form addressed to the agency chief, but in the case of criminal offences then the concerned prosecutor be notified. Each member of the agency has a statutory duty to cooperate with the investigators, unless they are suspects themselves. 

There has to be a place and time set aside for interview, whether formal or informal, and the officer under investigation must be comfortable so that they cooperate fully. Inevitable circumstances when carrying out an investigation will demand a reschedule of the interview to an appropriate time and place desirable to the participating individuals. The study hereby suggests that, interviews shall be, done at the duty station of the officer being questioned, or at the premises of the officer in charge of the interview. In cases where there are officers from other investigating agencies, the premises of one of the investigating parties may be used.

The nature and reasons for a formal interview shall be, stated together with the identity of complainants, who have signed statements alleging misconduct by the concerned officer or employee. In case, there is a confidential informant, or an undercover investigator involved, and has requested anonymity, then the officer or employee shall not, be told who the complainant is.

At the interview session, the officer under investigation shall not, be subjected to questioning by more than two persons. Then if, this happens the officer or employee has a right to refuse to make replies. Respect and dignity shall be, fully given to officers and employees who are being, interviewed in noncriminal matters such that no accusations, threats or harassment made to them. 

An officer or employee may be, asked to be, photographed, or participate in a lineup for witness identification, and disclose the any medication they may have taken if need be, unless the law requires otherwise. The investigation material, including any letters by the officer or employee, or their responses concerning the contents of the document objected to, shall be kept in confidential files. 

The persons under investigation shall have a right to an attorney or a union representative, and if they do not have one, they be granted at most three working days to obtain professional service, for the task of completing a critical incident report.  The officer or employee shall be subject to a polygraph test, in a case whereby the state law or employee agreement requires so, which must be, kept confidential. This case study suggests that an agency may use the polygraph test to vet officers during recruitment. The officer shall have the right of public office candidature, subject to provisions and limitations of state laws and employee agreement.

Alternative solutions in the case study

Skogan (2008) argues that policy makers in law enforcement have found that powerful and resistant police cultures exist, and they prevent fair and impartial police investigations on fellow officers despite administrative investment efforts in community policing reform. Therefore, in questioning officers, it may be appropriate to use civilians with investigating techniques instead of police officers. 

Civilian investigators may apply important non-policing skills, for instance statistical analysis and systems design to the process, hence the values or interests of the police culture do not bind it and is therefore more likely to provide open and impartial investigations. Civilian investigation is the most independent due to lack of police influence involved, so it follows that a more liable organizational culture determines the investigative process. Officers making complains on fellow officers are more likely to cooperate with non-police investigators (Murphy and McKenn, 2005)

College of Policing suggests passive data generators to gather information for criminal investigation. These include CCTV, computer-based electronic evidence, telecommunications information. It further notes that house-to-house enquiries are appropriate in investigations, because they are easy to conduct and produce results.


The lack of data and information on Police investigating police has made it difficult to favor one model over another. Civilian investigations may signal police reluctance or inability to regulate their own conduct and so undermine public confidence on the police systems. There is need for stronger models of civilian review with greater mandates to encompass review investigations and influence recommendations on the results of the cases under scrutiny. 

Although the investigative techniques aim towards locating and gathering material necessary for justice to the concerned parties, they should satisfy the legitimate requirements for information about an investigation from partner agencies and the community in general. This will ensure protection of the public interest and the ensuing legal rights, and ensure accountability to law and public opinion by the police organizations. 

The role of the peace officers in the investigation and review process will be in encouraging a more effective internal accountability, while developing powerful, and collaborative civilian oversight and investigative models. 

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