Policy: Internal Investigation Procedures


The purpose of this policy is to provide policies and procedures for processing and investigating citizen complaints and incidents of misconduct.


The Department is committed to ensure that all persons are treated with dignity and respect. Any citizen complaint(s) alleging misconduct will be fairly and impartially investigated. All employee rights shall be protected during the investigation of complaints.

This order establishes procedures for the investigation of a complaint against any employee that may lead to disciplinary action and/or criminal prosecution.


Department: the Michigan State University Police Department (Department).

Complaint: an allegation made by a person regarding the conduct of an employee of the Department.

Personnel Officer: the Command Officer assigned to handle personnel matters.

Aggrieved Person: any person who appears from a complaint to have suffered injury, harm, humiliation, indignity, or any other damage as a result of an action by an employee of the Department.

Findings: the outcome of an investigation.

Substantiated: the investigation disclosed sufficient evidence to support allegations made in the complaint.

Inconclusive: the investigation failed to disclose sufficient evidence to support the allegation. This includes those situations where the complainant fails to provide sufficient information to allow an investigation to be conducted or completed, but does not include a complainant’s withdrawal of a complaint where the investigation discloses a violation of law, policy, procedure, or rule of conduct.

Exonerated: those acts which provided the basis for the complaint or allegation occurred; however, the investigation revealed that the employee was justified, lawful, and proper in discharging their duties.

Unfounded: the investigation proved that the allegation is false and did not occur.


Code of Conduct

For purposes of this procedure, the following categories of misconduct pertaining to complaints shall include:

Any violation of federal, state, or local law

Any violation of any written rule, regulation, procedure, directive, or order of the Department

Confidentiality: All investigations covered under this policy are confidential in nature and shall be shared with only those persons required to review the investigation.

Complaint Procedure

Citizen complaints shall include complaints received from any involved party without regard to age, citizenship, residence, or any other characteristic of the complainant.

Filing of Complaints

Complaints may be lodged in person, in writing, on the web, by telephone or directly to the Police Oversight Committee.

All individuals desiring to file a complaint against an employee of the Department during business hours shall be directed to the Duty Supervisor for Field Services and Operations Bureaus’ complaints and directed to any supervisor in the Management Services Bureau.

The person receiving the complaint shall, without delay, submit a written preliminary report to the Personnel Officer outlining the circumstances of the complaint.

Reconciled Complaints

At times minor complaints may be handled on an informal basis to the satisfaction of all parties.

The Supervisor taking the complaint shall submit a report to the Personnel Officer in the form of a “Special Report” indicating the facts of the incident and the agreed upon resolution.

This shall not preclude disciplinary action or the imposition of sanctions when appropriate.

Withdrawal of Complaints

A complaint may be withdrawn at any time; however, such a withdrawal will not preclude the continuation of an investigation.

Complaint withdrawal will not preclude the imposition of appropriate disciplinary sanctions, if warranted.

Complaints Filed Internally

Members of the Department who wish to file a formal complaint against another member of the Department must initiate this action with their own immediate supervisor.

If the complaint is against the employee’s immediate supervisor, or will be compromised by discussing the matter with the immediate supervisor; then the employee is to contact the next supervisor in the chain of command or the Personnel Officer.

Criminal Complaints

When the complaint alleges criminal activity by an employee, then a separate criminal investigation will be conducted prior to any internal investigation.

The investigator shall be assigned by the Chief of Police (Chief) or designee.

Investigators shall confer with the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, or the appropriate prosecuting official where the offense is deemed to occur, to determine if criminal charges will be brought against the employee prior to conducting any internal investigation interviews.

Scope of Investigation

Consistent with existing Department policy, and in accordance with the language of agreements entered into, by and between Michigan State University and the appropriate bargaining unit, the investigating officer assigned to a particular complaint is hereby authorized to employ all recognized investigative methods in conducting a meaningful investigation of a complaint filed against a member (sworn and civilian, including temporary or part-time) of the Department. Investigations may include, but are not limited to, the following investigative methods:

Interview with the complainant, the aggrieved party, and witnesses or person(s) likely to have information concerning the complaint/ and may include an interview with the subject Department employee(s).

Prior to any employee interview, consideration will be given to the necessity of any special advice of rights, i.e., Miranda or Garrity; and the potential need for union representation.

Signed written statements from any person alleging misconduct on the part of a member of the Department.

Signed written statements from Department member(s) complained about, or who were involved in an incident where misconduct is alleged to have occurred.

Interviews or interrogations involving the investigation may be recorded in order to insure that the statements are factually reported and that any future charges of misconduct during the investigative stage can be substantiated or unfounded.

If appropriate, persons being recorded should be made fully aware of that fact.

Prosecuting officials are the only parties that can provide the employee with immunity from prosecution.

Other Violations: If during the course of the investigation other possible work-rule violations or criminal misconduct are discovered; they shall be enumerated under separate cover for potential Department action.

Employee Rights

Whenever appropriate and when union representation is requested, they will be provided to the employee.

Investigators shall follow the rules of evidence and shall not make any promises or offer rewards as an inducement to answer questions.

Investigators will report findings; and not offer opinions as to the final outcome of the investigation.

Whenever appropriate, the investigator should seek guidance from the Prosecuting Attorney to determine the potential immunity that may attach to the statements as a matter of law.

In addition to the above, the following shall be followed:

Personal property shall not be subject to search and seizure without probable cause or without a search warrant.

Department owned or controlled property may be searched at any time, even if assigned to or exclusively used by a single person.

Department employees will comply with all lawful orders for information, materials, or assistance; when such orders are made by the investigator of a complaint.

The Chief or designee, can order any employee of the Department to submit to any acceptable technique to secure non-testimonial evidence, including but not limited to: ballistics, photographs, and/or lineups.

Right to Counsel

There is no Constitutional right to counsel at interviews being conducted for administrative disciplinary purposes.

Counsel cannot advise an employee to remain silent when questions are related to the officer’s performance or fitness for duty.

An employee may be required as a condition of further employment, to answer questions specifically, directly and narrowly relating to the performance of official duties.

However, in such disciplinary investigations, it must be remembered that once an employee is compelled to answer questions which narrowly and specifically relate to duties performed; neither the employee’s statement nor anything derived therefrom may be used against that person in a criminal prosecution.

Investigative Report

At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator shall complete an appropriate written report setting forth the name of the complainant and the Department employee; and summarizing what investigation was conducted and what information was disclosed by the investigation.

The report shall also contain a recommendation as to whether the case is substantiated, inconclusive, unfounded, or exonerated; based on the investigation findings.

Relief from Duty

When an officer discharges a firearm that inflicts injury or death to another, that officer shall immediately be placed on administrative leave by the officer’s supervisor.

An employee charged with any criminal offense may be suspended without pay by the Chief or designee.

Any supervisor or command officer may relieve from duty, with pay, any subordinate employee; whenever it is necessary for the preservation of good order, efficiency and discipline.

This action is limited to violations that necessitate immediate action.

In every instance, the supervisor or command officer shall immediately advise the Chief or designee the reasons for taking such action through the chain of command.

The supervisor shall document all of the facts involved in the suspension or relief from duty and submit them to the Chief or designee on the next normal business day.

The employee shall not be returned to duty without authorization of the Chief or designee.

Upon suspending an officer, the supervisor shall retrieve the officer’s badge(s), Department identification and Department-issued weapons.

Officers relieved or suspended from duty shall not have police authority; however, they shall be liable for any violation of Department rules.

Officers who are relieved or on suspension shall not wear the department uniform, nor represent themselves as a police officer.

Review and Disposition

After the Chief reviews the report, the Chief shall either decide upon the disposition of the complaint or return the matter for further investigation.

The Chief or designee, shall notify by phone or in writing both the complainant and the employee of the findings.

The Chief or designee, will determine whatever discipline is appropriate, will notify the employee and will take appropriate action to report the decision to Human Resources, Employee Relations according to current University procedures.

External Review

Upon completion of any investigation, the complainant shall be provided with information on how to seek the assistance of the MSU Police Oversight Committee.