Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Updated: Confidential Informant rules of engagement

I found this story when I was browsing Kevin Roderick's blog earlier today, and I think it's a blessing in disguise that there hasn't been more publicity surrounding it. Ask any cop and they'll tell you that one of the greatest weapons in their arsenal is a good CI (confidential informant). Then tips and leads from CI's are worth more when requesting a search warrant than anything else, and the combination of facts and circumstances plus a lead from a CI, or corroboration to back up what the CI told you can push the reasonable suspicion past the fifty percent (50%) mark, allowing for most judges to sign-off on your probable cause determination and/or issue a warrant.

An unfortunate situation that occurred a few years back was the Rampart scandal. I'm not going to go into detail about the chain of events, because frankly, I do not think the few bad apples that fell from the tree justify the demonization of the entire department that has become a reality since the scandal occurred. If you want to know more about it, I highly recommend following the link above to the PBS article, which covers it --- without any bias in either direction --- better than any other source you will read.

As of today, the LAPD is once again allowed to use CI's to garner leads and provide tips to crimes in progress, or crimes that will be happening soon.

Stressing the need to fight gang crime, Los Angeles police want to ease a post-Rampart scandal restriction on the use of confidential informants.

The Police Commission on Tuesday endorsed an LAPD pilot program that would allow uniformed gang enforcement officers to use confidential - and, in some cases, paid - informants. The practice is banned under the federal consent decree because it was abused by officers involved in the LAPD's Rampart Division scandal.

"I want to be able to give the tools to our gang-detail people to be able to start cultivating informants," said Deputy Chief Michael Hillmann. "They're out there, and these guys are on the ground. They're talking to people all the time."

While I want to be able to say that it's possible to infiltrate and gather intelligence on gang crimes strictly from a gumshoe technique, I also know from personal experience that most of the information is too old and too filtered once it's in the hands of the units. Detectives have a better chance, because they're still allowed to use CI's, but for uniformed officers trying to provide intelligence services to the investigators, unless they have a crystal ball that tells them what's going on, then it's an uphill battle.

This is a great move by the LAPD.

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