So, this question is not really about the series the Mentalist, but I think it fits here anyway.

First, I am not from US, so I dont know if CBI really exists or was made up only for the series.

In the series Wayne Rigsby and Grace van Pelt have an hidden relationship because it is not allowed at CBI. Everybody warns them to keep it a secret, because otherwise that would have consequences and one of them would have to leave the CBI.

Is this really a rule at CBI or similar American criminal bureaus? What is the reason for this rule? In Europe I have never heard of such a rule, as far as I know relationships are not forbidden here when working together in a police-like environment.

  • I don't know about forbidden, but imagine yourself with your love in a battlefield. Your emotions and care for your love would stand in a way.
    – user22531
    Jun 4, 2016 at 13:31
  • @lettmannen: but they are no soldiers, they are detectives...
    – kl78
    Jun 4, 2016 at 13:38
  • It's not that different when you are in a field. What happens when a hostile who holds some civilians as hostages gets your partner (also wife), with a knife to her throat, telling you to drop your gun? You don't have a clear shot, what are you going to do? Watch this Risk civilian lives or just your partner's? Even better, she's your wife, who you love more than anything. Long story short, it's called conflict of interest.
    – user22531
    Jun 4, 2016 at 13:52

2 Answers 2


For US Federal civilian employees, there is no prohibition against having spouses (or immediate family members) working in the same agency or even the same unit. The only prohibition is that one of them cannot be in a supervisory chain of command above the other (conflict of interest/nepotism). I'm fairly certain state agencies would have similar restrictions as well.

As in any workplace setting, it depends on the culture of the agency (fictional CBI in this instance) or personalities of those involved/affected on how much coworker dating relationships are on the down-low. It can vary. Normally it's not a big deal unless a supervisor starts dating his/her subordinate or something like that.

It looks like the CBI in this case prefers keep personal relationships to a minimal so that it won't adversely affect decisions out in the field. So the characters might want keep it on the DL just to avoid it coming up in office politics/rumor mill/etc.

  • So you think they made it up only for the series? If you could provide some references to this or even for the specific CBI-Rules I would accept it as answer.
    – kl78
    Jun 5, 2016 at 9:31
  • @kl78 - updated answer. Does that help?
    – iMerchant
    Jun 5, 2016 at 11:31
  • It's also worth noting that when a fictional story has two co-workers that begin to develop romantic feelings for one another, the old "we're not allowed to date co-workers" is a GREAT WAY to generate dramatic tension. I'm sure there are some places in reality that have a similar rule, but in general I think it's much more common in TV/movies than the real world. (Barring the bit about immediate superiors, as discussed above - that's absolutely commonplace.)
    – Steve-O
    Nov 15, 2016 at 14:17

There used to be a "California Bureau of Investigation" as part of the state's Department of Justice. The "Bureau of Investigation" is now attached to the Office of the Attorney General of California. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Bureau_of_Investigation

The BI is utilized statewide for many purposes as needed; for instance, when there is an officer-involved shooting and the local authorities want a politically neutral organization to investigate the matter to ensure that the investigation is free of bias. For more information, see: https://oag.ca.gov/bi

There also was a California State Police, which was merged with the California Highway Patrol in 1995. For a good history of the CSP, see this article on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_State_Police

Here is an interesting article on the issue of nepotism and fraternization within public service agencies in the United States: http://www.llrmi.com/articles/legal_update/fraternization.shtml

  • Thank you. That provides some nice information about the side Question regarding the cbi (thats why i upvoted it) but it provides nothing about the main question(thats why i dont accept it as answer)
    – kl78
    Jun 5, 2016 at 9:30
  • Understood. Thank you for the up-vote. I was unable to locate the Personnel Policies of the California Attorney General's Bureau of Investigation in my online research. It is possible that they are not public documents. +1 for a good question. :-) Jun 6, 2016 at 15:24

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