law enforcement training

Receiving Information in Confidence from Citizens

One problem we at HSM Training regularly encounter is that of how an agency can take information from a citizen in a secure and legally compliant way. Often within individual agencies a plethora of terms is used to try and cover the different circumstances in which a person provides information to a law enforcement agency. Terms such as: confidential informant, informer, informant, casual contact, confidential source, confidential contact, agent, CHIS, human source and even witness are often used interchangeably by members of an agency. Not only does this lead to much confusion it means the limited resources of the agency are often wasted with needless bureaucracy. More seriously, it can often mean that people who put themselves at risk by providing information are not properly protected by the agency.  

When it comes to passing information law enforcement needs to identify and use specific named categories into which they can place the individual who is supplying information. When placed in the identified category the agency can then manage that individual according to an agreed and document set of standards. Using identified clearly identified categories and working to agreed standards ensures that the risk to the person and the agency are managed effectively. They will also ensure that there is legal compliance.

There are three categories that command an adequate starting place all of which will fall within the broader understanding of the often, used term 'confidential informant'.

  1. 'Registered Human Source.' This term refers to a person with whom an agency enters a relationship in order to obtain information over an identified period and under specified set of circumstances. This relationship is authorised by someone in a management position within the agency and all aspects of that relationship are documented. [In Canada, this term also includes a person who has “agent” status.]

  2. 'Witness.' This term refers to a person with whom the agency enters into a relationship with the intention that the person will give evidence in court against another person. Such a person may or may not be serving a prison sentence at time of passing the information. The person knows they will be testifying.

  3.  'Member of the public.' This term refers to all other persons that do not fall within either Category 1 or 2 above and refers to any person passing information to the law enforcement agency in the expectation that their identity remains confidential (i.e. the intention is the identity of this person will be protected except when there is a legal requirement to disclose it).

At HSM Training we work in many different jurisdictions with different legislative processes. However, we have yet to encounter a legislative regime where this method of classification will not work. This system may need minor tweaking but it will help you address this problem in a cost effective manner. If you need help with this problem please contact us at: info@hsmtraining.com  

Save yourself some time and trouble and get a system that protects everyone 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.

http://www.wacotrib.com/news/ap_nation/apnewsbreak-family-of-slain-informant-settles-for-m/article_10906239-59a9-5ac3-81e6-7d044738b635.html

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.