Mesa police shift internal affairs' focus - East Valley Tribune: News

Mesa police shift internal affairs' focus

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Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2008 5:43 pm | Updated: 9:14 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Mesa police officials are reorganizing the department's internal affairs unit to focus more on investigating officers and less on deciding their punishment.

Officials won't discuss the new plan in detail until it's finalized and approved by the city's attorneys, but they admitted the former policy "needed some revision."

"There were some areas in there that weren't operating efficiently both for the agency and employees," said Mesa police Assistant Chief Mike Denney.

Internal affairs is the unit in the police department that investigates employee misconduct or policy violations.

The department is going to switch its team of sergeants working in internal affairs with seasoned detectives who can then develop a solid investigation and present it to a supervisor, who will then pass it up the chain of command.

"Internal affairs is a very important job and we hope we can find the very best investigators," Denney said.

Denney said the new structure of the internal affairs unit is more in line with larger police agencies in Arizona and across the country. Scottsdale police currently have two sergeants assigned to its unit and Tempe police have a detective and two sergeants.

Chandler police have a different process where employees are given counseling statements for minor offenses in lieu of internal affairs investigations. In such cases, the department wouldn't assign the case an internal affairs number.

But in Mesa, Denney said every complaint - whether it turns out to be substantiated or not - is assigned a tracking number, although it might be handled at the district level, instead of internal affairs.

Denney said the new policy is scheduled to roll out this year, but couldn't say exactly when.

"It's going to result in continued high quality investigations," Denney said.

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