Internal affairs investigations are now public records in Colorado. After a bill signed into law on April 12, 2019, certain Internal Affairs (IA) investigations fall under Colorado’s open records law (called “CORA” for Colorado Open Records Act). This new law removes any privacy an officer has on internal investigations and makes those records available to the public, news media, and any criminal defendant the officer arrests.
Most notably, discretion is given to the records custodian in releasing IA records that contain a compelled statement under Garrity. This creates a scenario where an officer may be compelled to give a statement in an IA pertaining a criminal accusation under Garrity, but then that statement becomes public and falls into the hands of the District Attorney.
While the law opens the door for public scrutiny on an officer’s internal investigations, it does not allow access to everything. First of all, IA’s initiated before April 12, 2019, are exempt and are still private. The IA must involve a member of the public, so complaints against one officer by another are still private. Active IA’s are also exempt. There are several other provisions in the law that made these records exempt from public release.
In the future, it is possible that the officer and his/her past is on trial rather than the actions of the defendant. That is why it is more important than ever to have good legal counsel on your side when you face an internal investigation.
Here at Front Line Law, our attorneys are experienced in dealing with IA investigations and can provide you with the best counsel to protect your job and your livelihood. If you are facing an IA, call us as early as possible so we can help navigate you through the process and lead to the best possible outcome.
Additionally, if your IA files have been subpoenaed, we can help protect those documents, and can sometimes even get the subpoena quashed. Call us for a consultation.