In the past year, the former police chief of Alorton and East St Louis (MO) Police Departments was caught stealing computer video games in an FBI sting and the former mayor of Alorton pleaded guilty to using the police department to steal and ditribute cocaine. Now, as reported by stltoday.com, the troubled police departments in East St Louis could be subjected increased oversight following the proposed creation of a “Metro East Police District Commission”. Although the four agencies would continue to operate independently, the Commission would impose regulations and standards and have control of their finances.
Any sign of corruption or malpractice among law enforcement is a serious problem. It reduces trust and cooperation leading to the proliferation of problems like the “Stop Snitching phenomenon”. If the new legislation in East St Louis is passed, the new Commission will have to think very carefully about how it can impose improved standards and practices. It is not enough simply to write new policies. Robust systems must be implemented to enable management oversight. abmpegasus helps to address some of these issues, giving management oversight of traditionally opaque areas of policing without compromising confidentiality and security.
Romulus’s PD’s former police chief, his wife and five of his officers are in court facing allegations of falsifying payments to confidential informants, sex acts during undercover work and other acts of fraud between 2006 and 2011. The case, reported by The Detroit News, is, of course, extremely damaging to the reputation of the Michigan police department, casting doubt upon the legitimacy and credibility of the agency.
Whatever the outcome of the court case, the whole debacle highlights the importance of comprehensive record keeping among narcotics units. Narcotics officers have often been subject to minimal management oversight, being left to manage their own informants and intelligence gathering operations. This approach provides too much opportunity for malpractice. It also fails to make the best use of intelligence that is collected by individual officers.
ABM has developed abmpegasus to address these issues. It improves record keeping to reduce the potential for corruption as well as helping to share crucial intelligence within the organisation and make better use of intelligence sources. abmpegasus helps to implement robust policies and procedures, protecting the law enforcement officers, informants, citizens and the reputation and effectiveness of the agency.
As reported on NewsOn6.com, a key witness in the Tulsa Police corruption case is hoping to get $400,000 from authorities after helping the FBI to build a case against corrupt Tulsa Police officers. There will always be controversy over paying convicted criminals to provide information to law enforcement, but it is surely impossible to put a price on the value to society in rooting out corrupt officials.
I have to conclude that Radley Balko’s article “War on Drugs Corrupting America’s Cops” fails to fully understand the reason behind corrupt behaviour in narcotics law enforcement. It is not the “war on drugs” causing police corruption – it is process failure and lack of accountability. If processes are properly followed and senior law enforcement officers have proper oversight of covert activity, there is little opportunity for corrupt behaviour to occur. Every example that Balko uses could probably have been avoided if systems were in place to properly record and monitor covert activity.
Removing drug prohibition does not solve the problem – accountability issues will still remain. The answer is to improve management oversight across all covert operations and make it harder for police officers to stray away from acceptable behaviour.
The tensions between the operational need for confidential informants and the requirement to maintain police integrity have made themselves clear in yesterday’s San Francisco Examiner article.
Police Captains clearly see confidential informants as an essential part of policing. However, police bosses have to balance this with the need to operate in a safe, legally compliant and transparent way. The Examiner article reveals that the way in which confidential informants are managed is currently being reviewed at San Francisco Police Department. By improving management processes and officer training, SFPD will hope to reduce opportunities for police misconduct whilst still allowing the agency to benefit from the invaluable intelligence that confidential informants provide.
The Trentonian has reported that a police dispatcher for Dover Police (New Jersey) looked up criminal records of friends and relatives and revealed the identity of a confidential informant to one of his relatives. Such behaviour is clearly against law enforcement agency policy and the officer faces a four year prison term. Although the police say that his actions did not compromise any investigations, they will undoubtedly have a negative impact on citizens’ confidence in the agency’s ability to protect data and, more importantly, the identity of confidential informants.
Law enforcement agencies should learn from this that secure and reliable systems to enforce policies and protect informant data are an essential component of modern-day policing.
As reported by KTVU, Caramad Conley was convicted in 1994 of two counts of first-degree murder and 11 counts of attempted murder for a 1989 drive-by shooting in San Francisco. Last week a superior court judge ruled to overturn the murder conviction after she found that San Francisco police witheld the fact that the prosecution’s key witness, Daniel Polk, was paid thousands of dollars in exchange for his testimony and that the witness was allowed by homicide inspector Earl Sanders to testify under oath that he was no longer in the witness protection program which he was receiving cash and other benefits from. Polk died in 2007. Conley has already served 16 years in prison.
Such cases illustrate the need to maintain strong management oversight of the use of confidential informants. Let’s hope that San Francisco police have improved their practices since then…
Two former Deputies at Bexar County Sheriff’s Office were found guilty on Wednesday of stealing funds for informants and lying in drug investigations. In 2008 and 2009 the two Deputies routinely requested money to pay informants for information but pocketed half of it for themselves.
The damages to the Sheriff’s Office are far greater than a few thousand dollars of stolen informant funds. The former deputies’ convictions throw a number of drugs convictions into question – 239 letters were sent to defense lawyers by the District Attorney advising them that there may be cause for appeals. If it goes the same way as the recent Tulsa corruption scandal, many convicted drugs felons may have their convictions overturned. According to the San Antonio Express article, there has also been significant restructuring the Bexar County Sheriff’s office, with all the deputies on the 15 member narcotics unit being replaced.
Management oversight of financial transactions in the necessarily secretive area of confidential informants may be difficult, but it’s far from impossible. Robust policies and procedures enforced in conjunction with reliable source management software can make it relatively easy for law enforcement agencies to improve the management of this area of covert operations.
Good relationships between undercover officers and confidential informants deliver better results. Building up mutual trust and understanding encourages informants to provide more valuable and useful information leading to more numerous and robust convictions.
But what happens when a strong, professional relationship goes too far? WDTN reported yesterday on the dismissal of Montgomery County Sheriff Deputy Steven Gardiner’s dismissal after it turned out that he was covering up a sexual relationship he was having with a paid confidential informant. The disgraced, and married, deputy even invited the informant on a holiday to Hawaii. It seems that the Sheriff’s office acted swiftly and strongly to fire Gardiner, and rightly so. Inappropriate relationships of this nature reek of corruption and abuse of power and do little to instill confidence in law enforcement.
Tulsa’s budget will have to accommodate between $700,000 to $900,000 to handle a wave of lawsuits which are arising as a result of a corruption scandal in the city’s police department. As reported by Tulsa World, three lawsuits have already been filed against the Tulsa police for wrongful imprisonment. This is because police officers allegedly stole drugs and money, planted drugs in houses, falsified search warrants and made up confidential informants.