Following the recent news coverage of a Sarasota County Sheriff confidential informant’s unlawful relationship with defendants, ABM Software Consultant and confidential informant management expert, John Buckley, discusses how to avoid the pitfalls of confidential informant (CI) mismanagement.
CI mismanagement is a common problem for law enforcement agencies across the world. To lose, or have to withdraw cases, because of allegations of mismanagement of a source or confidential informant is not only frustrating but also costly to law enforcement agencies’ budgets, time and reputations.
Allegations of confidential informant mismanagement can occur because of two reasons; either the agency mismanaged the informant or police records are so bad they can’t prove the informant was managed properly. Instances where CIs have been poorly managed by law enforcement agencies commonly occur because an agency does not have the necessary structures in place to manage confidential informants safely and effectively.
By following these three basic steps, law enforcement agencies can learn how to avoid allegations of CI mismanagement:
- Create comprehensive procedures that detail how every informant will be authorised and managed.
- Ensure every officer dealing with an informant, including those authorising the use of that informant, receive training specific for the role. Basic training is likely to take an absolute minimum of 40 hours.
- Use an effective record system such as abmpegasus so that all officers involved in a case can see the latest status and activity of informants. If these records are kept to evidential standards not only will the informant be more likely to be effectively, and lawfully, managed but you will be able to prove what happened in court, protecting your agency from allegations of poor record keeping and, even worse, CI mismanagement.
Given the fact the Florida has some of the most comprehensive legislation in the USA surrounding the management of confidential informants, it is surprising that such incidents continue to occur in the state. Rachael’s Law specifically mentions the need for effective risk management and the training of officers involved. When cases like this occur it is a good time for all law enforcement agencies to take a look at their own structures, training and record keeping and to make a honest assessment of whether or not something similar could occur in their agency. Unfortunately bad publicity surrounding CI mismanagement doesn’t just affect the law enforcement agencies directly involved; it also tarnishes the public image of policing in general.
John regularly advises ABM in relation to the development of abmpegasus software for managing confidential informants and has written several books on intelligence management and confidential informants. His latest book, Managing Intelligence; A Guide for Law Enforcement Professionals, is due to be released next year.
abmpegasus is a modular piece of expert-led software that helps police manage information, intelligence and covert operations in accordance with best practice, policy and the law. By maximising accountability and productivity, it offers protection to the public and police agencies whilst ensuring operational integrity surrounding confidential informant management, surveillance, witness protection, suspicious activity reports (SARs), communications interception and undercover operations.