Poor Risk Management of Confidential Informants

And as 2018 draws to a close an interesting story from Palm Springs Daily Sun relating to confidential informants:

“DHS cop's sexually-charged relationship with off-the-books informant central to internal affairs investigation”


My preference is not to discuss the specifics of a case because I am not fully aware of the details but from reports such as this and I am sure the reader can make up their own mind. However, Chiefs of Police must learn lessons about managing confidential informants from such reports. At HSM Training we spend a lot of time researching the psychology involved in the management of confidential informants (human sources) and in sharing that research with law enforcement. The sentence in this report that tells and important story is the quote from the officer at the centre of the allegations:

“We don’t have any documented confidential informants,” . “Anybody who provides us with information is doing so as a concerned citizen.”

This statement in and of itself speaks volumes about the culture of informant management within an agency

  1. Only the Chief of Police should ever make public statements about confidential informant policy within a LEA. That the officer feels at liberty to discuss informant policy at will means the integrity of informant management within the agency is already compromised.

  2. The officer speaking here has resorted to a play on words when they state they don’t have “documented confidential informants” only “concerned citizens. If this is the agencies policy it is a recipe for corruption and ineffective policing. This remark is designed to justify the officers actions and confuse the issue. What they are saying is “I didn’t do anything wrong, I followed our policy. So just ignore everything else.” It is a psychological trick.

  3. What legal difference is there between a concerned citizen and a documented confidential informant.? In effect what this tells us about the agency is probably that they have confidential informants they just don’t document them. Why? i’m guessing at best lack of knowledge but more likely laziness, cost savings in training, a head in the sand approach to risk, a lack of caring for citizens who give information, etc. Some may interpret it as corruption…

Informant management is a high risk business. Opportunities for corruption are always knocking at the door.

If a citizen is giving information to law enforcement the agency MUST have a clear set of procedural guidelines as to when a person should be documented as a confidential informant. If someone is in regular contact with the police and giving information they should be document as an informant and managed by properly trained officers.

So if by any chance you are a Chief of Police and you are unsure about: How well your informants are being managed or if your confidential informant training is sufficient please get in touch we will help you out. And for the Chief in Desert Hot Sun Department we would even do it for free!

Alternatively, you could enter 2019 waiting for the lawsuit or the local news headlines.