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Internal Affairs

The Police Police. More evil than the Big Bad, Diabolical Mastermind or Serial Killer, Internal Affairs is the true enemy of the Cowboy Cop and everything s/he stands for, as they're usually on a crusade to get the Cowboy Cop — who they see as being just as bad as, if not worse than, the criminals he pursues — thrown off the force with all due haste.

As the Cowboy Cop is most often the hero, however, the cops working for Internal Affairs are therefore often characterized as humorless, prissy and self-righteous desk jockeys who have no real understanding of what it's really like out there on the streets — because if they did, then there's no way that they'd get so morally uptight and outraged about the Cowboy Cop's complete ignorance of correct police operating procedure and flagrant disregard for the basic human rights of the suspect. Indeed, a frequent method of Anviliciously highlighting the moral superiority of the Cowboy Cop compared to these cops is to have him or her angrily hiss "What about the victim's rights?" when getting chewed out by Internal Affairs — to which the Obstructive Bureaucrat will of course have no answer whatsoever. In these cases, Internal Affairs seems dedicated to promoting a system of justice which actively protects the guilty whilst forcing the innocent to suffer.

It's not just the Cowboy Cop, though; the entire department seems to loathe the Internal Affairs cops with a passion. This suits the Internal Affairs cops just fine, however, as more often than not they're depicted as complete ball-breaking pricks who aren't interested in being liked by anyone; protecting the integrity of the force is simply more important. Da Chief often has a grudge against these guys as well, as they often overrule his authority and demand that he force the Cowboy Cop to turn in his badge.

Another role for Internal Affairs in fiction is to have one of their officers infiltrate a police station undercover with the intent of exposing some form of corruption, only to gradually form friendships (and even Love Interests) with the cops they are meant to be investigating. This can result in all manner of complications and angst galore when the undercover officer's role is finally exposed.

In the most positive portrayals, these are the cops that a cop protagonist can turn to when they see corruption and cannot stop it themselves. At the end, when the hero has proved his allegation, the IA cops will be the ones who come to haul away the crooked cops with the hero cop standing back, regretting such measures were necessary.

This is, in some ways, Truth in Television, as for obvious reasons there's tension between regular police officers and the regulatory authorities assigned to watch over them in real life (just as tensions exist between police officers and civilians, for much the same reasons). However, the Cowboy Cop and his supporters tend to forget or overlook the fact that the rules and regulations that Internal Affairs so staunchly uphold exist for a reason. Like them or not, without Internal Affairs keeping the worst excesses of police authority and corruption in check, things wouldn't be very pleasant.

Occasionally, this will be subverted by making Internal Affairs right, and the Cowboy Cop actually deserve having to turn in his badge.

Sub-Trope to The Inspector Is Coming and a Sister Trope to The Inquisitor General, which is much more common in military settings.


Examples:

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     Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Largely subverted in Gotham Central, since most of the main cast are by the book cops. That doesn't mean they like IAD cops — but IAD are generally shown as honest guys doing an unpleasant job without malice.
    • The main IA cop featured even goes a bit rogue in one of his investigations. In order to help Detective Allen stay on the force, he surrenders a crucial bit of evidence in his investigation of corrupt CSU Jim Corrigan. He knows that it's better to have Allen on the force than Corrigan off it, and that Corrigan will screw up again.
  • In Green Lantern, Alpha Lanterns serves as that, having originally been Green Lanterns who've been given robotic implants to better serve the Corps. They're also portrayed as complete jerks. And to no one's surprise, they wind up turning evil.
    • Mind control by the Cyborg Superman; turns out removing their emotions makes them easy targets
  • The Special Judicial Service in Judge Dredd perform this function for the Judges of Mega-City One. The Movie gave them a uniform change to include face-concealing helmets and were gunned down in large numbers by Dredd.
    • In the storyline The Pit, Dredd finds himself in this role, sent to clean up what was at the time the worst sector and the worst branch of the Judges in the city, with the Chief Judge unwilling to trust the local SJS. Needless to say, things improved by the time he left.
  • In Powers, a rather friendly internal affairs cop begins investigating Deena, easily the more violent of the protagonist duo, about a suspect's death in a hospital that occurred years ago in the comic. Deena's nervous for an entirely different and much more credible reason: she just murdered her ex-boyfriend in a fit of rage after secretly contracting Contagious Powers.
  • Gordon mentions why the police dislike IA in Batman: Year One, claiming they might dangle the carrot of good integrity but after the day is over everyone still treats you like any other scum bag if you take down a cop.

    Film 
  • Just such a subversion happened in a movie that was unsurprisingly called Internal Affairs.
  • In Lethal Weapon 3, Rene Russo plays an Internal Affairs officer Lorna Cole, who harasses Cowboy Cop Riggs (Mel Gibson) before falling in love with him. Subverted, however, in that Lorna is revealed to be, in her way, even more of a Cowboy Cop than Riggs is.
  • Two words: Dirty Harry. In the first movie, the D.A takes this role, complete with indignant "what about the rights of that little girl?" demand from Harry. In point of fact, Harry's is probably the trend-setter here.
    • What's often missed is that the D.A. is on Harry's side! The D.A. even says how he has kids and wants that scum off the streets but that the law says the bad guy must go free.
    • Then in Magnum Force, Harry ends up becoming a Cowboy Internal Affairs Cop.
  • The Sylvester Stallone movie Cobra features a stereotypically nebbishy IA cop who angrily challenges Cobra as to whether his decision to execute a couple of criminals holding up a supermarket might have been excessive; Cobra's response is to punch his lights out. Unusually, by the end of the movie even the IA cop has been won over by Cobra's effective method of law enforcement.
    • Not really. Stallone actually punches him at the end of the movie when the IA cop makes a snide comment over how he'd have handled things a bit differently, but "No hard feelings". Stallone: "Sure (WHACK!) No hard feelings, Monty."
  • The Corruptor: The FBI think that Danny Wallace (Mark Wahlberg) is a double agent for the mob but it's then revealed that Danny is an Internal Affairs officer sent to investigate Nick Chen (Chow Yun-Fat) the head of the Asian Gang Unit (The FBI agent says something about how "Internal Affairs is worse than the mob"). Even later in the film Danny's ex-cop father returns the money Danny gave him (to pay off some debts to the mob) saying something along the lines of "I might have been dirty but at least I didn't stab my partners in the back."
  • In Striking Distance Sarah Jessica Parker turns out to be an undercover IA, sent to investigate Bruce Willis, but winds up testifying on his behalf instead.
  • The Dark Knight comes closest to a subversion, featuring Harvey Dent (currently the District Attorney, but previously in internal affairs) doing his best to clean up the incredibly corrupt police force of Gotham, something that doesn't endear him to Lieutenant Gordon — despite Gordon being one of the very few straight cops on the force. (In the previous movie, Gordon even said "I'm no rat!" despite his partner blatantly extorting money in front of him, though this may be explained by his weary, "Who's there to rat to?") However, Dent turns out to be right all along, and a few of the crooked cops in the Major Crimes Unit lead to Rachel's death, and his own facial scarring. Needless to say, Harvey isn't very happy about this. Those cops aren't exactly Cowboy Cops as much as straight-forward corrupt bottom-feeders, however.
    • Harvey was still a good guy for most of the movie and a main subversion of this stereotype. The Gotham City Police however, seemed to resent him greatly for his inspecting them (presumably because he put a lot of bad cops away), showing that sometimes it's hard to be liked in this job, even if you're doing the right thing. The cops even gave Dent the nickname "Harvey-Two-Face." However, that nickname also reflected his strong Good Is Not Nice tendencies; nobody achieves high political office in Totally-not-Chicago-we-swear Gotham City just by kissing babies and making sympathetic noises when concerned citizens visit their office.
  • Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway is Internal Affairs — because she's a rotten lawyer, so making sure everyone else is doing things right is a perfect fit for her. And when there's a military conspiracy that needs taking down, that's a good combination to have.
  • The film Street Kings actually had the LAPD Internal Affairs portrayed as good guys, or at least totally justified, as the cops they were investigating actually were corrupt. As it turns out, a large portion of the film is actually a Batman Gambit set up by Internal Affairs to try to get the one honest cop in the group to turn on his corrupt partners. The lead Internal Affairs agent even admits that there are uses for a Cowboy Cop.
  • In Insomnia, the main character Detective Dormer has some particularly nasty things to say about the Internal Affairs people hounding him. Of course, they're out to get him because he fabricated evidence to send someone he thought was a child murderer to jail .
  • Ironically Serpico is all for the idea of an Internal Affairs unit, as the New York City police department is steeped in corruption and absolutely no one on the force will do anything about it. One gets formed after he goes to the New York Times with his story.
  • Max Payne movie has a subversion: Lt. Bravura, who first seems to play the trope straight by trying to pin the murder of a Valkyr addict on Max. Later, though, he starts to (correctly) suspect that corrupt officers are trying to set Max up and calls in the FBI to capture Max alive and figure out what really happened.
  • In The Man, Samuel L. Jackson's character is a Cowboy Cop who is being investigated by IA after his partner turned out to be corrupt and was killed by a criminal. The IA investigator believes that corrupt cops usually have corrupt partners. He ends up leaving satisfied that he was wrong after the cop returns the money he borred for a sting operation.
  • In Blue Streak, Logan is a thief pretending to be a police detective. When his rookie partner checks out his backstory, he finds out it's fake. Logan takes him aside and pretends to be IA, claiming that the entire precinct is corrupt.
  • InThe Departed, The Massachusets State Police just is lucky enough to appoint the resident snitch of The Irish Mob as their Internal Affairs officer. He is soon tasked with finding himself. One can see how well that goes.

    Literature 
  • Even compared to the poverty, vampires, homicidal FBI werewolves, necromancers, fallen angels, Eldritch Abominations, and normal thugs Harry Dresden faces, Internal Affairs of the Chicago PD is probably his worst enemy, undermining him at every turn and convinced he's nothing but a charlatan stealing city money... even after his extremely positive track record with the police. Which isn't even going into how much they hate Murphy and try to undermine her at every turn. They've even tried to throw Harry in jail in the second book, helped try to make him look like a terrorist. Think that's bad? The actual governing body he's part of, the White Council is even worse. Morgan, a warden (The White Council's police and IA all in one) actively tries to kill him repeatedly, once with a really terrible excuse, and the much of the council hates him and thinks he's a dangerous element that practices black magic.
  • A.E. Pessimal in Thud!! is a thoroughly Pratchettian take on the trope. He's not really investigating misconduct so much as bad accounting and inefficiency. He ends up on the force specifically because of his skills in this department being badly needed...and because he always wanted to be a cop.
  • In the Thursday Next series, SpecOps-1 is Internal Affairs to the rest of the SpecOps network.
  • Internal Affairs play an unusual role in the In Death novels since despite Eve's kneejerk hostility to them, their gestures in the direction of investigating her are perfunctory and they're basically on her side any time someone accuses her of misbehaviour. It may help that an IA guy has a firm case of unrequited love for her.
  • Mainly played straight in Artemis Fowl, but the worst of them all is eventual LEP recon commander Ark Sool
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe
    • Implied in the X-Wing Series. Corran and his partner were Space Police, and while their actual affairs guy, having once been active himself, was good about it, their Imperial liaison was unpleasant. As well as being unsociable and tending to frustrate investigations, he disliked Corran enough that when Corran's father was murdered by a Bounty Hunter, the liaison let the murderer walk, saying that the bounty hunter's poor manual dexterity meant it could have been an accident.
    • Not cops, but in Allegiance we see that the Imperial Security Bureau, or ISB (don't you love sinister three-letter acronyms?) serves much the same purpose as Internal Affairs, but for the Imperial military. Their major issue is loyalty to the Imperial cause; rights don't mean much. In fact, they go after a stormtrooper for refusing to gun down unarmed civilians; see, he was disobeying orders and may have been a Rebel sympathizer. Darth Vader doesn't like them, though for reasons involving suspicion and paranoia, not principles.
  • The Auditors are The Laundry's Internal Affairs.
  • In Joseph Wambaugh's The Choirboys, long-serving vet Sergeant "Spermwhale" Whelan, a wily 19-year cop who knows all the tricks, is eventually brought down by IA, who have been gunning for him for years, with a threat to withdraw his twenty-year service pension for "gross misconduct".
  • Imperial Auditors in Vorkosigan Saga. Their mission is not precisely defined; it is well summed up in, "Whenever The Emperor wants to give a really bad time to someone too important to get at by other means." They have almost unlimited powers which is why they are usually chosen from old men who have reached the pinnacle of ambition.
  • Kira of the Night Huntress books tells Mencheres about her mentor, an IA officer who helped her put away the abusive, drug-dealing cop who was her first husband. He is portrayed as the man who came through for her in her darkest hour, against an example of the worst of what a cop can be.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has the Watcher's Council, who keeps its Slayers on a tight leash. In fact, they have an entire wetworks team dedicated to taking down rogue Slayers. The Watchers themselves (poor Giles) are also under close scrutiny.
  • CSI: Miami has issues with Internal Affairs practically every frickin' episode. Including the undercover mole plotline.
    • Every CSI has had a few Internal Affairs episode, though Miami does have the most, and features the most jerkass Internal Affair officer, Sergeant Rick Stetler, who may beat his girlfriend.
  • On CSI: New York, both Mac and Danny have had problems with Internal Affairs — Mac particularly, as he seems to have something of a problem with people trying to tell him how to do his job.
    • Danny, though, has had more run-ins than Mac. In season one, he killed an undercover officer who shot at him, insisting that the guy never ID'd himself as a cop. The problem was, there was a cell phone recording of the guy identifying himself, which Danny insisted he never heard. Danny was only exonerated because his other bullet was never found, so there wasn't any evidence to move forward.
    • In season 8, Danny was out with his rookies during his time as a sergeant when two guys held them up. At first, it appears the young female cop fired because she was shot at, but it turned out she shot the guy without the gun. Danny didn't know what had happened because one of the perps hit him over the head with a bottle.She then lied to IA and said that Danny told her to lie because they were having an affair. There *was* a video where she was cuddling up to him, but that was all her; Danny was adamant he was faithful to Lindsay. Eventually, Lindsay pressured the rookie to admit she was scared and lied about telling Danny to lie.
    • Stella's had run-ins as well, getting called out twice for excessive force.
  • Without a Trace (also part of the CSIverse), has also shown that not even the FBI is safe from Internal Affairs, has they have to deal with the OPR (Office of Professional Responsibility).
  • FBI-focused White Collar had a recurring villain in the first two seasons in OPR Agent Fowler who turned out to be a case of Lawman Gone Bad: his wife was killed and then he killed her assassin, leaving himself open to blackmail by the big bad.
  • Criminal Minds uses elements of this trope when FBI higher-ups investigate Hotchner's conduct when his ex-wife and son were pursued by an elusive serial killer. Subverted in that, while the head investigator (and Hotchner's boss, Erin Strauss) is dogged in her questioning and rubs all of Hotch's teammates the wrong way, she turns sympathetic when Hotchner himself relates how his ex-wife had been killed and he'd beaten her murderer to death to save their little boy.
  • In an episode of Hill Street Blues, an IA officer is sent undercover as a secretary to investigate the Hill Street station. The cops uncover her identity and are severely annoyed.
  • 24 does this all the time, from individuals sent from the Attorney General's office to moles placed by the White House. Some manage to contribute, most are unhelpful, and some end up being revealed as actually working for corrupt, if not terrorist, interests.
  • Every time that Internal Affairs appears in a Law & Order series, they're unhelpful at best.
    • Season 1's "Poison Ivy" begins with a police shooting, which (in a subversion) is initially cleared by Internal Affairs. Greevy and a reluctant Logan aren't so sure, and do their own investigating.
    • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit even had an entire episode wherein The Faceless IA bureaucrats got the story of how main characters "allegedly" beat up a kidnapper to get the location of a missing girl. Perplexingly, Cragen's indignation at Internal Affairs' position that beating up the guy poses a clear violation of even the kidnapper's human rights is presented as being the unquestionably morally righteous position. The episode even ended on a "those two dead people's rights"-style quote.
      • Well, there was merit to that quote. The pimp they were tracking was suspected of kidnapping a fellow cop's daughter, though it later turned out they were involved for a time BEFORE being kidnapped for real. When they rounded up the pimp's hookers in an attempt to get some information, his sleazy lawyer waltzed in almost immediately and stopped them dead in their search. Later, an informant of theirs was able to find the girl, who was on the run from the pimp, but he wasn't able to give them the news in time, as the informant was killed in cold blood and they had the whole thing on camera. The girl was then kidnapped and by the time the detectives got to her, she'd been forcibly overdosed on drugs, and they were only an hour late. They wound up late because when they arrested the pimp, he was demanding an outrageous deal in exchange for the girl, which delayed them several hours.
      • And then there was the case where IA attempted to "disappear" several girls to cover up an anthrax threat. They were only returned after the timely intervention of Olivia and a plucky reporter who exposed their acts to the public.
    • Pretty much one particular IA agent will jump at any accusation to Elliot Stabler no matter how obvious that said accusation is fake (such as a boy claiming he was molested by him to get the charges dropped to a husband having his wife beat him up so they can claim that Elliot was the one that did it) and no matter what he will fully believe the other side until solid evidences is shown they are lying.
      • IA tried to use a, justified, shooting to screw Elliot Stabler over. Stabler ultimately decides to resign due to his own guilt over the shooting, he had to shoot a teenage girl to save the lives of the men who raped and murdered her mother, and his unwillingness to jump through IA's hoops. In that case, it also had to do with the fact that Elliot had been reported to Internal Affairs multiple times over the course of the series and had plenty of questionable actions on his file already, so even a justified shooting looked suspicious.
    • Law & Order had a somewhat sympathetic IA detective played by Anthony Anderson in Jesse Martin's last episode. At one point he refers to his two-year assignment to IA being almost up, and the following week, what do you know, he's transferred to Homicide and replaced Martin's character.The Series averted this trope in that while IA were not portrayed as particularly competent, the Detectives had no love or loyalty for dirty Cops
    • Averted in Homicide: Life on the Street as IA Detective Gharty was portrayed as very sympathetic and none of the Cops had a problem turning in Killer Cops. Kellerman's persecution in Season Five was mostly bad luck and the cold treatment Gharty received was based more on apparent cowardice on his part.
  • Characters of this nature often appear on the various Star Trek series. The most prominent example was in the Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations," where a department known as "Temporal Investigations" scrutinizes Captain Sisko over having traveled through time. These guys soften up at the end and are generally just doing their job, but, as even well-intentioned changes to the timeline can be catastrophic, they need to be hard on everyone. They also lament when Captain Kirk is brought up, who's traveled through time way too often for their tastes.
  • Life On Mars: It is revealed that Sam Tyler is an undercover cop assigned to Gene Hunt's unit to expose his corruption and rule-breaking so that he could be replaced with a more progressive superior — except he lost his memory and ended up going native. Of course, it's probably All Just a Dream anyway.
    • And in Ashes to Ashes, we have the sinister Jim Keats who is determined to bring Gene's shady past to light. Who is literally the Devil.
  • There was a French TV series whose main characters were a commissioner and an inspector from the French IA; the Inspection Générale des Services men are actually nicknamed "les Boeuf-Carottes" ("beef and carrots", a dish) because they have a tendency to "grill" the people they question.
  • The third season of Dexter has a wildly inept internal affairs officer who is investigating a very mildly corrupt cop, but goes about it in a terrible way. She approaches his partner and asks for her help, gives no reasoning, and assumes she has the partner's assistance and continues harassing the partner. It also turns out she may have an ulterior motive for pursuing the cop (they used to be partners, with another cop who got killed due to a drug addiction which may have been preventable).
    • Calling her inept is a compliment. She shows up completely out of the blue, starts insulting and threatening Debra for doing absolutely nothing wrong, practically stalks her, keeps sending her obnoxious texts, despite on numerous occasions getting the literal response of " STOP FUCKING TEXTING ME," makes wild and incorrect assumptions, and in several cases, actively undermines perfectly legal and effective police work.
    • The first season has Angel torn over reporting to Internal Affairs over an incident regarding Doakes apparently opening fire on a man unprovoked, fearing that the rest of the department will regard him as a rat, as well as being Doakes' friend (and initially trying to get the truth of the matter from him). He does end up providing an incriminating report, but the case is thrown out due to intercession on the basis of national security (Doakes' victim was a former death squad member who he knew from his black ops days). Doakes doesn't end up holding it against him, and threatens a cop who insults Angel.
  • In the later seasons of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, this function is performed by the IOA. They're sometimes right, but most of the time the IOA as a whole is treated as a bunch of ObstructiveBureaucrats.
    • The most important (plot-wise) of them is Woolsey, who starts as one of SG-1's detractors, while raising quite a few valid objections (like "Shouldn't we consider stopping the project that nearly caused the destruction of our planet on various occasions ?"), becomes more a Reasonable Authority Figure, and finally gets at the head of Atlantis in the last seasons.
      • Interestingly, immediately after arriving and making a speech about how he intends to have everyone play by the rules from now, he is confronted by a crisis that leads him to break quite a few rules to save the day (he give the list to Sheppard at the end of the episode). He does not like what it means about his beliefs.
  • There's been plenty of run-ins between the detectives of Cold Case and IA, but the most blatant has to be in season 5, where an ongoing arc has one of the detectives feeling major heat from them over whether or not his shooting a suspect during a hostage situation the previous season was by the book. IA was using it screw him over for a previous mistake.
  • Internal Affairs frequently appears on The Shield, and the entire Arc of Season 5 revolves around a particularly persistent IA officer hounding the Strike Team. The show also subverted it with Lt. Jon Kavanaugh. Beginning as a straight, if extremely unconventional, IAD officer, he metamorphosed into a Cowboy Cop himself, with a stop at Large Ham along the way.
  • One episode of the short-lived revival of Dragnet had Joe Friday the subject of an Internal Affairs hearing, with the events told in flashback. In this case though, IAD had a legitimate concern, and Sgt. Friday was honest and non-confrontational. Furthermore, the IAD's investigation is as thorough and professional as Friday's always are and they find the evidence that his actions were completely justified under the circumstances. But then, Joe Friday is the polar opposite of the Cowboy Cop.
    • The above example harkens back to "The Shooting Board", a 1968 Dragnet episode. Friday walks in on an attempted robbery at a self-service laundromat and exchanges gunfire with the thief, wounding him. Things turn bad, though, when the thief turns up dead, the slug from his gun isn't found, there are no independent witnesses, and his accomplice lies that Friday fired the only shot. Throughout, Friday is tense and worried, but isn't hostile towards the IAB officers or the review board, both of whom are sympathetic but professional. In the end, the IAB detectives find the missing slug, leading to a memorable epilogue: Friday, himself, on camera as the narrator reveals the result ("Sgt. Joe Friday: Returned to Duty").
    • There was also the episode in the 1960s version where Friday and Gannon were the Internal Affairs: they were investigating the shooting of a liquor store clerk where the chief suspect was a rookie undercover narcotics officer (Kent Mccord, pre-Adam-12 ), who had been picked out of a line-up by an eyewitness. He turns out to be innocent (mistaken identity), and spends most of the episode understandably stressed out and angry at being a suspect at all, but Friday & Gannon never move from their professional yet sympathetic stance.
    • In another episode, Friday is picked as a defender by a cop accused of taking a bribe from a bookie. He said it was because he knew Friday would pull out the stops to defend him if he really was innocent. Friday agreed, but contended he made a lousy lawyer because he'd want the guy convicted if he was guilty. Ultimately, the guy is found guilty of a couple of the charges, but not all of them.
  • Adam-12 got into it as well, in an episode where Reed and Malloy exchange fire with a sniper at a residence. Reed has to be investigated and his actions checked out to ensure that he was justified in firing his weapon and shooting the suspect. Reed is stressed, but ultimately, his actions were found justified.
  • The Australian mini-series Phoenix had Major Crimes constantly butting heads with the Victorian Police internal affairs unit, nicknamed the 'toecutters' (after a notorious Melbourne gang which tortured people by cutting their toes off). Unsurprising as this Ripped from the Headlines series was made at a time when the Victorian police were catching a lot of flack for their methods, especially police shootings (explored particularly in the Law Procedural spin-off Janus).
  • The Wire featured one of the more cynical takes on the role of IA, particularly in the first season. Major Reed, the head of IID, was Deputy Commissioner Burrell's pitbull, preventing Lt. Daniels' detail from pursuing leads that Burrell didn't want them pursuing. It had nothing to do with making sure the police were following the law; it was purely about making sure they were following Burrell's orders.
    • IA gets used cynically again later in the show. Herc (a white policeman) causes problems for Carcetti (newly elected white mayor in a mostly black town) when Herc use excessive force and humiliates a black preacher he arrested over a misunderstanding. If Carcetti caves to the deacons who want Herc gone over this, he looks weak, and like someone who can be pushed around. If he doesn't, then he's a white man who doesn't care when a white cop pushes a pillar of the black community around. Burrell proposes a way out: have IA come down on Herc for other reasons unconnected to the preacher incident, and have him bounced off the police force that way.
  • Against The Wall is about a police officer who just joined IA, with the full belief that she can protect innocent police officers. Her family full of cops practically disown her after this.
  • JAG: In the season five episode "Contemptuous Words", Harm is suspected of having written an unsigned op-ed piece in newspaper denigrating the then-president Bill Clinton, and internal affairs are brought in.
    Admiral Chegwidden: Hell, I tried to keep this thing in-house, but to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, pursuit of the matter’s been turned over to the Office of Inspector General.
    Commander Rabb: OIG? Admiral, they land a crooked JAG, their budget goes up.
    Admiral Chegwidden: Oh, hell yes.
  • In addition to investigating crimes committed against members of the Navy and Marines, NCIS is frequently those military branches' internal affairs bureau...which doesn't always endear them to the servicemen and women.
  • Done on Saving Grace when Grace ended up with a temporary new partner, Abby. Even thought Abby didn't find anything wrong with the squad, Da Chief was still pissed off, and Ham let rats out at Abby.
  • Apparently averted by Southland. When the rookie cop has to shoot a perp in the line of duty, he's told by his veteran partner to get everything out in the open with IA, who will make sure everything goes okay.
  • A Third Watch storyline had Fair Cop patrol officer Sasha Monroe revealed as an Internal Affairs detective working undercover to investigate the death (actually a murder) of a suspect responsible for the shooting of another cop. When her deception is discovered, the other cops are so disgusted by her that she is actually left on her own while pursuing a dangerous suspect and nearly killed by him.
  • The Bridge has Internal Affairs being corrupt and going after any cop that the division commander or deputy chief do not like. Their hamfisted handling of two incidents cause the protagonist Frank Leo to call for a walkout and then for him become a candidate for head of the police union.
    • IA investigates a veteran cop for accepting a bribe from a pedophile and the cop kills himself. The IA investigator on the case was actually about to subvert the trope and exonerate the cop fully and is so angry at his superiors that he becomes an ally of Frank.
    • IA tries to pin a murder and numerous robberies on Frank with no real evidence. The death was a clear case of self defense and Frank had nothing to do with the robberies. His union lawyer is so incompetent that he actually let's them get away with making the accusations and thinks that Frank should plead guilty.
    • In the end Frank has to become this trope himself since there really are some very bad cops on the force and as the new head of the union he has to root them out to protect the good ones.
  • Sgt. Martens of NYPD Blue was a rare three-dimensional example. He was zealous, but not to the point of being a caricature. Capt. Fraker, on the other hand...
    • Martens once investigated an officer who had fired his gun and decided the shooting was reasonable given the situation. He later confessed that this was the kind of situation he hated — he knew that the cop, while honest, wasn't really suited for police work, and that, by making him "right" on the shooting, Martens was virtually guaranteeing that there would be more trouble somewhere down the road.
  • The Closer has the Force Investigation Division, headed by Captain Sharon Raydor. Although she and heroine Brenda Leigh Johnson absolutely loathe one another, Raydor is portrayed unusually in that she is not only given redeeming qualities, but is shown to be a skilled and honorable investigator who knows precisely how disliked she and her department are and passionately wishes there was a different way to do things, and Brenda respects her and considers her job a necessary evil. (Raydor and Johnson also work quite well together when they team up for cases.)note 
    Brenda: When police officers get shot, they're investigated by me. When they shoot back, they're investigated by you. That means they will think twice before defending themselves. That hesitation means more good cops will die. I have to ask - have you ever considered what your principles cost?
    Raydor: Seventy million. That was the settlement in the Rampart case. One hundred. That's how many convictions were overturned due to renegade policing and lack of oversight in one division alone, not to mention the loss of trust the LAPD needs to remain effective.
    Brenda: There has to be a better way.
    Raydor: Well, until then, you've got me.
  • Starsky & Hutch unsurprisingly plays this one dead straight, with the Internal Affairs officers being presented as unreasonable and unlikable bastards for wanting one of our heroes arrested after his ex-wife is shot dead in his apartment with his gun and stolen property is found in his car. More unusually, in another episode the head of Internal Affairs is actually leading a ring of vigilante cops (although he had been viewed as a good guy who the heroes respected before his vigilante actions were revealed.)
    • Made all the more ironic by the fact that Starsky and Hutch technically do IA's job for them on multiple occasions, when they investigate corrupt fellow cops (like Iron Mike) in the face of disbelief and resistance (usually from Dobey.) It sometimes seems like the entire BCPD, including IA, is rotten from the top down.
  • Castle:
    • IA shows up in the form of Lt. Holliwell shows up when a case touches on Detective Esposito's old partner, who it transpires faked his own death under suspicion of corruption, with significant evidence pointing to him being the murderer of the week. Although none of the detectives are exactly Cowboy Cops, naturally Holliwell takes the opportunity to renew his antagonism with Esposito and, in general, the other members of the unit. In something of a subversion, Holliwell turns out to be the corrupt one.
    • Captain Victoria Gates, the replacement to Captain Roy Montgomery, was also previously assigned to Internal Affairs, which creates tension with her new subordinates. She eventually explains to Beckett that she worked in IA not because she hates other cops (her father and uncles were cops), but because some of them really are dirty and people need protection against them just as much as against ordinary criminals.
  • Strongly subverted with the BBC series Between The Lines centered around the London Metropolitan Police's variant of Internal Affairs — the Complaints Investigation Bureau (since renamed the Directorate of Professional Standards). The officers are seen as decent individuals performing a totally necessary role (in a world where policemen generally are corrupt enough to beat suspects, forge confessions and run their own private businesses on paid time). While the show is sometimes cynical about the outcomes of investigations, it makes it quite clear that corruption exists and shouldn't be condoned.
  • Parodied on NTSF:SD:SUV:: where the Internal Affairs agent is Ellie Kemper, being as friendly as possible, but everyone loathes her anyway. Even the robot spits on her.
  • Inspector Lynley gets suspended and hauled up in front of IA after being accused of using excessive force on a suspect at the end of the episode "Word of God". He is eventually cleared, after his partner Barbara Havers steps up and speaks out in his defense.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: In "What Doesn't Kill You", Internal Affairs investigates Jane in the aftermath of her shooting of Paddy Doyle. Her bending of the rules to protect Maura makes it look like she might have been in Doyle's pocket. Ultimately, Doyle's chief mole inside the police is revealed to be the head of Internal Affairs.
  • In Sledge Hammer!, the routine IA check goes pretty well, much to Captain Trunk's relief, until Sledge shows up. After witnessing the usual Sledge method of processing a suspect, the IA officer demands to see Lieutenant Hammer's service record, which has been carefully hidden from him. Rather than the usual slim file, it is brought to him... in a wheelbarrow. Sledge's file doesn't just have a filing cabinet of its own, it has a room of its own.
  • Barney Miller has Lt. Scanlon, who embodies all the negative IAB stereotypes. He genuinely hates Barney and his men and constantly tries to nail them on something (which he never does). In the last episode, he's really annoyed that he turns out to be the one to break the news of Barney's promotion to Deputy Inspector.
  • The IA officers in Person of Interest come across as well-meaning but incompetent. Despite the fact that a ring of dirty cops known as HR is one of the major villains in the series, they have never caught any of them without outside help, and over the course of the second season get used as patsies by corrupt cops to strike at honest cops on three separate occasions.
  • In Blue Bloods, the NYP Ds Internal Affairs Bureau needs to tighten up it's recruiting standards. Season 1's Lt. Alex Bello is at first seen to be hard-nosed-but-professional ... but is later revealed to be part of the ultra-corrupt Blue Templar fraternity. Capt. Derek Elwood is introduced in Season 2, again tough-but-fair ... but who is also later revealed to be crooked and behind a frame up of Danny in Season 3.
  • On Nash Bridges, this was the specialty of detective Caitlin Cross. She was only shown performing these duties in two episodes: her first one where she investigates Nash for the killing of three supposedly dirty cops and another where she investigates Evan for allegedly stealing evidence.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Nomine, by Steve Jackson Games, has the forces of Heaven policed by the servants of Dominic, Archangel of Judgment. Though efficient at their job and sworn to be just, they are perpetually seen as cold-hearted pokerspines by most angels, particularly those who serve Archangel Michael. (Their opposite numbers in Hell, by the way, couldn't be more different.)
  • In Paranoia, IntSec is this to the Troubleshooters (and citizens in general)... and THEY have their own Internal Affairs, which is even more universally hated and feared than IntSec in general.
  • The Inquisition in Warhammer 40,000 serve as Internal Affairs for the rest of the Imperium and for themselves, each Inquisitor has unlimited operational authority and the power to judge when another Inquisitor has lost it.
    • They also have the authority to burn whole planets on the suspicion of corruption, this turned up to eleven
    • Besides the Inquisition, there's also the Minotaurs, the High Lords Of Terra's personal Space Marine chapter. Their main purpose seems to be fighting other loyalist chapters that have done something to piss off the High Lords.
    • According to the Horus Heresy books The Emperor also intended for the Space Wolves to be this, specializing them to hunt down other Space Marines that went rogue, but apart from the usual battles against Chaos Space Marines they don't seem to do this much anymore.

    Video Games 
  • Ghost Squad shows the Internal Affairs point of view, with the main characters assigned to such a unit, often infiltrating police stations — and befriending and/or sleeping with corrupt officers before stopping them.
  • As was the earlier Between The Lines. Especially with regards to the 'sleeping with corrupt officers' part.
  • In Mass Effect, Gianna Parasini is an Internal Affairs agent for the Noveria Development Corporation, assigned to eliminate corruption. In possibly one of the rarest examples of this trope ever, helping her out with her investigation is the right thing to do.
    • The Spectres are cool enough that they are their own internal affairs department. One goes rogue, the Council sends another to off him.
    • Though despite the name, the NDC's Internal Affairs is not a "police police", but rather a company policenote .
  • Maxim Rukov, the protagonist of KGB(AKA Conpsiracy) is one, a special KGB investigator, who is determined to reveal huge corruption in his own organization.
  • The Seekers of the Chantry fill this role in regards to the Templars in Dragon Age II as one of them interrogates a dwarf in trying to find the Champion of Kirkwall, who may or may not be responsible for the war that caused the Chantry to fall to pieces. The Seekers are, actually, a study of what happens when IA does nothing, or acts far too late. All hell breaks loose as the mages, (innocent or not), fight back against an extermination order that Meredith delivers under false pretenses.
    • Although with the Exiled Prince DLC, it's shown that Leliana had arrived in Kirkwall during Act III to determine the situation and whether an Exalted March should be performed against the Free Marches. Elthina, Prince Sebastian Vael and (possibly) Hawke argue that the situation isn't that far gone and peace could still be achieved. It seems more that Internal Affairs was keeping an eye on the situation and watching all the key players closely, but they were blindsided when Anders disrupted the game by tipping over the chessboard.
      • Of course, the fact that IA interfering would, in this case, mean a genocide of any-and-all mages, it's understandable that they might not get involved until the breaking point.
  • Completely inverted in Heavy Rain. FBI Agent Norman Jayden, sent in to solve the Origami Killer case, is constantly abused by Knight Templar Rabid Cop Carter Blake, and Da Chief is a plain old Jerkass.

    Web Comics 
  • Subverted by Officer McGillicutty, a Guest Character of the Week in Mac Hall. He's told to hand in his badge for being too dangerous, and does the Cowboy Cop fairly straight, even visiting a hooker with a heart of gold. However, he ends up getting to the protagonist's house long after Animal Control has solved their monkey problem. So, he really was that incompetent. The insults they leave him with, combined with his face, kind of make you feel bad for the guy, though.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamers Alliance, when a bunch of thieves from the Union manage to sneak the captive necromancer Razravkar Dominus out of the cells in the Anti Mage Police Headquarters, Captain Schtolteheim Reinbach III orders Lieutenant Irinthiel Maurath to assemble a small group of trustworthy and cunning operatives from within the Anti Mage Police to not only locate the renegade necromancer but also to investigate the possibility of the Anti Mage Police having corrupt cops within it. This group becomes known as Shadowstrike and remains literally unknown to the rest of the AMP as Irinthiel reports only to Captain Reinbach and has full authority to arrest and investigate any AMP officer to discover whether they're moles or genuine servants of the Magicracy of Alent.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: In David Simon's book Homicide, one of the precinct detectives is investigating a police shooting (which is done by the Homicide department in Baltimore), and ends up completely disgusted almost to the point of retirement to discover the fact that his brother officers peddle the same lies and bullshit as the murder suspects he brings in.
    • This was reflected in Homicide: Life on the Street, which was based on Simon's book; Pembleton is assigned to investigate a similar shooting, but encounters the same kind of dishonesty — and it's further compounded by Giardello, a firm believer in the Brotherhood of the Badge, actively pressuring him to exonerate the cops when it's all but blindingly obvious that they're responsible.
  • The hostility is something every inspection agency has to deal with, the FDA vs. drug companies, union inspectors vs. the management. This is serious enough that the United States Department of Agriculture actually has a memorial wall commemorating inspectors killed in line of duty.
  • The London Metropolitan Police's internal affairs unit actually resorted to wiretapping and covert surveillance operations against corrupt officers at one point in The Seventies. They needed to.


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