With confidential informants - numbers matter.

To Chiefs of police or agency Directors a question: Does your agency allow any officer to manage confidential informants (human sources, CHIS, HUMINT) ? If your answer is yes then there are a few things you need to know.

  1. Approximately 40% of officers who want to manage informants do NOT have the aptitude to do it. That means at least 40% of the people that are allowed to do it can’t do it safely. They are a danger to the confidential informant, the agency and themselves.

  2. The more people that engage in any risky activity inevitably means that it is much more likely that the risks will materialise and bad things will happen. These bad things include corruption, inappropriate relationships, perverting justice and the death of informants. What benefits do you get compared to running these risks.

  3. The minimum training required to manage a confidential informant safely is 70 hours (i.e. a two week course). Few agencies can afford to train every officer to this level but if they don’t there is a clear case of negligence.

  4. Few agencies have the resources to exploit the information they get so much of the information collected goes to waste. So the agency risks the informants life for information the agency will never use.

  5. The more staff you allow to manage informants the greater work-load you place on those involved in supervising your staff. As workload increases, something has to give and it becomes very easy to bury one’s head in the sand and ignore potential wrongdoing. Of course if supervisors are not trained chances are they won’t even recognise the wrongdoing until it’s too late!

Managing confidential informants (human sources) is a high risk activity and risks should only be undertaken where there is a clear benefit for the agency, Allowing anyone to do it is akin to allowing anyone to drive a truck without training. When the law suit lands on your desk or you find your officers involved in a corrupt relationship don’t be surprised.