Narcotics officer suspended over alleged relationship with informant – how best to mitigate the risks.

October 19, 2012 2:11 pm
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In this candid blog ABM Consultant and confidential informant management expert, John Buckley, looks at the topic of inappropriate relationships between police officers and informants and offers three pieces of expert advice on how best to mitigate the risks.

I recently read an article where a top US drug investigator in the Fox Valley has been placed on unpaid suspension over an inappropriate relationship with a confidential informant. In the article it explained that dozens of pending cases could be affected where Winnebago County Sheriff’s Detective Greg Weitz or the informant were involved – a law enforcement agency’s nightmare.

Few people in law enforcement will be surprised of yet more allegations of an inappropriate relationship developing between an officer and an informant. Such allegations have unfortunately become an all too regular feature of police interaction with informants. Whether these relationships involve criminality or are sexual in nature what cannot be denied is the damage they do to both individual investigations and the integrity of law enforcement in general.

In such situations it is too easy to cast all the blame on the individual officer but the agency must bear significant responsibility for creating circumstances where inappropriate relationships are allowed to develop and continue. There are a number of steps that can be taken to mitigate the risk of this occurring.

How to mitigate the risk of officer relationships with informants

  1. Train all officers involved in managing informants with specific lessons given to address the psychology involved in corruption.
  2.  Produce detailed procedures for all aspects of the informant management process. A few pages or paragraphs, is simply not enough.
  3. Produce a comprehensive record relating to every aspect of the informant case including a comprehensive authorisation process and detailed notes of all contact with the informant and provide instant access for supervisors. Supervisors need to be able to see exactly what is going on with each and every informant that the agency is managing.

While these steps may not totally eradicate inappropriate relationships developing, they go a long way to doing so and will certainly make it a lot easier to identify that things are going off track.

John regularly advises ABM in relation to the development of software for managing covert operations and intelligence and has written several books surrounding the topics of intelligence management and confidential informants. His latest book, Managing Intelligence; A Guide for Law Enforcement Professionals, is due to be released next year.

If you would like more information on ABM’s confidential informant management software (abmpegasus source management) and how it can help you mitigate the risk of officers developing relationships with informants please email info@abmsoftware.com or visit www.abmsoftware.com

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