confidential informant management

Confidential informants and Incentivized Witnesses - knowing the difference

Confidential informants and incentivized witness - law enforcement need to know the difference and put in place structures to manage the difference between these two categories. Discussion on Informant privilege and innocence at stake.

Managing confidential informants - What constitutes negligence.

Confidential Informant - negligence and wrongdoing by law enforcement. Expert advice for all involved.

Tragic and avoidable death of confidential informant leads to million dollar pay out by police

Here is a story that is unfortunately to common: the tragic and arguably avoidable death of someone who has agreed to be a confidential informant for law enforcement. Shelley Hillard was 19 year's old when she agreed to become a confidential informant after being caught with marijuana at a Detroit motel in 2011.

Follow this link for the story.

First, as human beings we must acknowledge that a person has lost their life and that a family is grieving that loss.

Second, as law enforcement professionals we must take the opportunity to see if their are any lessons that can be learned from such events to prevent a recurrence with some other person.

Often these events occur through two major failings:

  1. The agency does not have effective structures to manage confidential informantssafely. There is a lack of clear policy, record keeping is poor and supervision is far from adequate. INADEQUATE STRUCTURES = NEGLIGENCE
  2. The officers are not trained to manage confidential informants. Managing a confidential informant is a difficult task and there are numerous things that can go wrong including a failure to protect the person, the development of a corrupt relationship, and poor evidence collection. All staff involved int eh management of confidential informants need training with regard to how to do this. And the training should meet minimum standards. Quite simply you cannot teach someone how to manage a confidential informant in one or two days. And if an officer  is not properly trained they should NOT be allowed to manage an confidential informant. NOT TRAINED = NEGLIGENCE

And if you are a Chief worried about the cost of improving your training and structures, if the ethical obligation does not work for you, then you might find motivation in the thought of paying out $1,000,000!

If you need expert guidance on the structures required to manage the risks with regard to confidential informants or want help with quality training please contact us at HSM Training and Consultancy. Or have a read at some of our related publications listed on this website. 

Confidential Informant Audit Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

As some one who is always on the look out for material on how to better manage human sources (confidential informants) I came across this audit of some of the issues The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have had in managing confidential informants. 


For anyone involved in this business it is always good to read about what is and is not being done properly in other agencies. We should not be continuing to make the same mistakes. Take the time to read the full report and then check your own systems to ensure that you are not making the same mistakes.  Better do it now before you are audited or something else goes wrong and the lawyers come knocking at your door. 

Lets take a look at some of the recommendations here which I have paraphrased in more general terms. (My comments in italics)

  • Develop and implement a record-keeping system sufficient to maintain, in a single location, complete and reliable CI information.  - This is essential for every agency. All confidential informant records should be held in a central location.
  • Establish adequate procedures and controls within the system to ensure that all data is entered in a complete, consistent, and accurate manner, and that historical data is appropriately maintained.  Good training to manage informants and good supervision ensure good data entry.
  • Ensure that the system requires the capture and validation of additional confidential informant related information to assist in managing the confidential informant program. There has been be a way to capture any information to help the agency improve its capacity when it comes to managing informants
  • Implement a method to accurately and completely track all payment information for individual confidential informants. Money management is a serious concern in all CI programs. Good systems significantly reduce the risks to the officers and to the agency.

Managing confidential informants ( human sources ) is fraught with risk. Good systems reduce those risks.