Officer Rights

Garrity Statements

From time to time officers find themselves in situations where they are compelled by an order from a superior to provide information about their conduct.  These situations are stressful sometimes resulting in poor recall and bad decisions.  If you find yourself in a situation where you are being ordered to provide information about your conduct, as opposed to the actions of a suspect, the location of weapons or evidence, or any potential threat to the public, you should take the following simple steps to protect yourself.

If ordered to answer questions you should:

  • Ask for a representative to be present before you answer any questions.
  • Ask for an attorney if you have been involved in a shooting, a car accident, a physical fight, if an arrestee is injured or dead, or any other “critical incident.”
  • Ask the person asking the questions if you are being ordered to answer.
  • Ask the person asking the questions if you can be disciplined for failing to answer.
  • If your jurisdiction has an officers’ “Bill of Rights,” insist your rights be observed.
  • If your Bill of Rights requires interviews to be tape recorded, insist on the recording devise and ask the above questions while the device is recording.
  • If the interviewer refuses to observe your rights, before you begin answering any questions, state loudly enough for anyone nearby to hear (preferably in front of your representative) that you are answering the questions because you have been ordered to do so with the understanding that you will be terminated for insubordination for refusing to answer.  Write this on top of any report you are ordered to submit. If you are ordered to remove it from the report, save a copy of the report with the statement and comply with the order.  Below is a sample “implied” Garrity disclaimer for use in such situations.
  • If you are not ordered to answer questions, say nothing until your attorney is present.
  • If you are advised of your Miranda warnings, ask for an attorney and say nothing further.

You should also consider reading the following statement out loud before you answer questions or writing it on top of any report.

DO NOT MAKE A STATEMENT WITHOUT AN ORDER FROM YOUR DEPARTMENT.

THE GARRITY STATEMENT

On _____ (date) _______ (time) at ____________ (Location), I, ____________ (Name), was ordered to make this statement/report by _________________ (Name and rank). I submit this statement/report at his/her order as a condition of my employment and upon pain of discipline/termination.  I demand a representative/attorney be present before proceeding with any interview or writing any report.

It is my belief and understanding that this report/statement is for internal purposes and will not and cannot be used against me in any subsequent proceeding.  This statement/report is made to the best of my memory, knowledge, and belief.  I reserve the right to amend or change this statement to correct or explain any unintended mistake, conflict, or contradiction, without subjecting myself to a charge of untruthfulness and demand the opportunity, before this matter is concluded, to review any and all evidence in this matter, including, without limitation, the statements and reports made by others.

For any and all other purposes, I hereby invoke my constitutional right to remain silent and to consult with an attorney pursuant to the Sixth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and any other rights prescribed by law. I also invoke the protection afforded me pursuant Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967) and Spevack v. Klien, 385 U.S. 551 (1956), should this report be used for any other purpose of whatsoever kind or description.

DO NOT REFUSE to make a statement/report if ordered to do so even if the agency refuses to comply with your administrative rights or you will be subject to termination for insubordination.  BUT, CONFIRM that you have been ORDERED to make the statement/report.  If you are advised of your Miranda rights or if you are not ordered to make a statement/report, DO NOT do or say anything until you have consulted with your FOP attorney.

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