Police officer Erik McGarrity has resigned from Vancouver Police (Washington state) amid allegations of engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a confidential informant. As reported by The Columbian, an investigation by Washington State Patrol found that the informant, a 25-year-old woman, worked as an informant for 43-year-old McGarrity (who was married with children) on drug related crimes in 2007. The following year a sexual relationship started between them.
Although McGarrity’s alleged actions were not illegal, they contravene the police department’s policy that continued association with those involved in criminal activity must be avoided.
It is difficult to eliminate the potential for this sort of situation to arise. However, introduction of clear professional standards and accountability surrounding the use and management of confidential informants, along with proper systems to record and monitor activity would help to improve professionalism and make it more obvious for senior officers when police officers’ relationships with informants risk overstepping the line of acceptability.