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Undercover in the 70's

“Wash your hands thoroughly, man. You don’t want none of that pot leaking through your skin and messing with your head, you know.”

“Stop freakin’ out, Ralph. Mary Jane doesn’t do that,” said Detective Captain Kangaroo. ” You’re thinking of acid. I think you’ve been a narc far too long. You got jelly brain, or what?. You’re paranoid.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not taking any chances. You do what you want,” Ralph said. “Me, I’m not taking any trips unless that boss Trans Am out there takes me there.” He nodded toward the only window in the room.

Kangaroo leaned a shoulder against the wood-paneled wall in his office—his face just inches away from Farrah Fawcett’s toothy smile. The poster was his favorite wall decoration. “Ralph, the chief complained again about that loud hippie music blasting from your car when you drive into the parking lot. He’s threatening to take out the eight-track if you don’t dial Hendrix and Joplin back a notch.”

“Hey, can I help it if he doesn’t dig it?” Ralph said.

“Maybe he’d lighten up a bit if once in a while you’d play some Andy Gibb or Paul Anka. Hey, he likes Tom Jones. What about—”

“Tom Jones? Are you bugging’ out, or what?” Ralph walked over to the window and looked lovingly toward his undercover car, the sleek black vehicle that closely resembled the one Burt Reynolds drove in his movies. “Tom Jones. Unbelievable. Next thing I know you’ll be asking me to crank up a few Partridge Family tunes and ditch my Levi 501’s for a pair of Jordache’s, or a leisure suit. Well, I’m not doing it. I’ve got an image to protect. Catch my drift?”

“Look,” Kangaroo said, “I’m simply letting you know the chief has you on his radar. He thinks you’re burning out and I agree.”

Ralph, his anxiety clearly showing, twisted the obviously black mood ring round and round on his finger. When he’d first arrived the stone color had been deep blue. Stress and nervousness had edged out calm and cool.

“This whole scene is freakin’ me out,” Ralph said. “I bust my butt out there. It’s not a kid’s game of Rock “Em Sock “Em Robots, you know. Some of those dirt bags out there are as tough as G.I. Joe, the one with the Kung Fu grip. They’d as soon kill a Smokey as look at him. Yeah, I’m the Evil Knieivel of this department. I’m a little different. I stopped playing with Light Brights and Stretch Armstrong a long time ago. I’m not one of those folks you see on Little House on the Prairie. I’m a grown man and I know my job and how to do it, and you gotta do the things I do working as a narc in these times.”

“I know, Ralph, but that he’s the boss and—”

“Well, he needs to mind his own potatoes. The man is a doofus, a real jive turkey who watches Happy Days in his office, the crazy crib with all that red shag carpet, where the Osmonds spew 24-7 from the little transistor radio he keeps on his desk. But I have a job to do and if it means doing it while riding a Big Wheel and cooking my meals in an Easy Bake Oven, well, that’s what I’ll do. But I’m gonna keep on truckin’, man.”

“Like I said, Ralph, and here’s the real skinny. I think you may have been under a bit too long for your own good,” said the captain. “You’re even starting to sound and maybe even think like them. Why, you’re practically a Deadhead. So I’m pulling the plug. Turning off your black light. Switching you from 45 to 33 and a 1/3. Handing you a chill pill.”

Kangaroo, having lost his cool, continued the rant. “So you’re getting a haircut and a shave today. I want you sporting’ a flattop next time I see you. Dig? Because you’re going back in uniform starting Monday. So why don’t you split, go back to your pad, get cleaned up, put on some decent threads, and report back to me this afternoon with the keys to the Trans Am in hand. Oh, and when you drive in, how about cranking up the volume on a little Carole King. She’s far out, you know.”

~

Okay, the above goofiness and overwritten scenario was a bit of a stretch, but how many of you were able to follow the conversation? Do you write or enjoy reading tales set back in those days? If so, perhaps those stories, and your actual lifestyle, included one or more of these things of the past.

1. Pong

2. Fred Sanford

3. Platform shoes

4. ABBA

5. Colorful metal drinking cups

6. Portable hairdryers (with the hose and plastic cap)

7. World Book Encyclopedias (I read these for hours at a time)

8. Lava lamps

9. David Cassidy

10. Mork and Mindy

11.Tupperware parties

12. No seat belts

13. Romper Room

14. Tang

15. Pull tabs

16. Banana seats

17. Milk deliveries…to your door!

18. Balsa gliders

19. Sea Monkeys

20. Madge. “You’re soaking in it.”

21. Rosanne Rosannadanna

22. Kool-Aid

23. Test patterns

24. “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific”

25. View Master

26. The Hustle

27. Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.”

28. Tiger Beat magazine

29. Tube socks

30. The movie Jaws

31. “Dark Side of the Moon” – Pink floyd

32. Mickey Mouse watches

33. Record players

34. “American Woman” – The Guess Who

35. Bell bottoms

36. Short-shorts

37. Bewitched

38. Donny and Marie

39. Carnation Instant Breakfast

40. Polaroid cameras

41. Station wagons with wood trim

42. T. Rex, “Bang a Gong [Get It On]”

43. Ant farms

44. Sears Catalogs, and the company’s famous Christmas Wish Book

45. Disco

46. Pet Rocks

47. Air Hockey

48. Pop rocks

49. Hamburger Helper

50. Watergate Salad

Finally, let’s not forget those revolving red lights used by detectives (“bubble gum machines”). They had a magnet attached to the bottom and most were powered by plugging them into the cigarette lighter socket.

Yes, I had and used one of those lights that stuck to a metal plate on the dashboard, and I remember how excited we all were when our department switched to blue lights. Still, you couldn’t see a thing with either those contraptions spinning and flashing inside the car. But we were so cool, man. Really groovy.

Okay, I gotta boogie now, so I’ll catch you on the flip side.

By the way, I’m stoked about a few new and very wicked and way-cool projects in the works. I’ll lay the sweet details on you guys very soon. Ten-four, good buddies?


Remembering …

 

Ric Ocasek, The Cars

Ocasek was not the lead singer on “Just What I Needed.” However; he wrote the song and did so while living in a basement commune. I selected this tune to feature because my band played it, a lot. In fact, it was one of our most popular and highly-requested songs. When audiences heard the first note of the intro—the E power chord—they packed dance floors. The song was absolutely a lot of fun to play for the simple reason that it seemed to put smiles on the faces of people everywhere.


Eddie Money

I met Eddie Money several years ago in California. He and I remained in touch by email for a while after and, as life goes, our messages eventually stopped. He was an extremely nice man who loved life, his family, his fans, and his music.

Edward Joseph Mahoney changed his name to Eddie Money after an attempt to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, father, and brother, who each served as officers with with the NYPD. However, the job simply wasn’t for him and he left police work for a career in music. Obviously the decision was wise.

Money and I once discussed that I someday use him as inspiration for a character in a book. He thought it would be a real hoot to see it happen. Again, life and procrastination got in the way.

Last week my wife Denene and I traveled to North Carolina to be with her mother during yet another surgery (you may recall that she and our daughter were each diagnosed, just weeks apart, with serious cancer). Her surgery went well and she’s now back at home.

On our way back to our own home we took a detour to visit with my brother and his wife for a few minutes. The side trip to their house took us deep in the countryside where it’s not unusual to see a black bear crossing the road, or a dozen or so deer grazing on my brother’s property.

To return to a major highway after leaving my brother’s place, we first had to trek along several narrow treelined backroads, where thick leafy canopies overhang, allowing only bits of sunlight to leak through between branches, speckling the asphalt with splashes and dots of yellow.  It was like I image it would be to travel through the twisting and turning lens of an old kaleidoscope.

Denene and I chatted along the drive with our conversation turning toward the possibility of hosting a 2020 Writers’ Police Academy. We brainstormed ideas as to how, if we decide to host a 12th event, to top earlier years and which new classes and topics we could offer.

We discussed past events and favorite sessions and activities. We also discussed that 2020 would be a year without Linda Lovely and Howard Lewis, our two key volunteers who’ve decided to move on after many years of hard work and loyal service to the WPA. Of course Denene and I are grateful to all they’ve done for us and the event over the past several years. The four of us have been together during fun times and extremely difficult hardships.

But, as it’s been said, “The show must go on.” For now, though, the head-scratcher of the day is whether or not to return to Sirchie, NWTC’s Public Safety Academy in Green Bay, or to simply call it quits after 11 wonderfully successful years. I’d love to see your preferences in the comments below.

Okay, back to the rest of the trip back home from N.C.

We twisted and wound throughout the network country roads, passing a couple of boarded-up country stores, the kind that once sold hunks of hoop cheese and slices of bologna from long tubes, hand-dipped ice cream cones, pickled eggs and pigs feet from large glass jars, live minnows and crickets, and blocks and bags of ice.

Cotton field in Virginia

Small clapboard-sided churches and fields of soybean and cotton and corn were part of the landscape, as were modest homes and barns and tin-roofed sheds cobbled together from plywood and 2x4s.

Then, we passed a house that stirred a long forgotten memory. It was a brick rancher with a gravel driveway. The entrance to the drive was flanked by two large wooden wagon wheels, one on either side. A vivid picture crossed my mind—a Virginia State Police car parked in that very driveway. Wow, how could I have forgotten about this trooper, a man who played a part in shaping me as a police officer.

Let’s Back up a Bit

I’ve worked undercover assignments in my day, most of which involved narcotics operations. My very first one took place, and it pains me to say just how long ago it was, back in the 70s. I know, I’m one of the “old guys.”

By the way, writers, that’s a term sometimes used by younger cops when referring to active-duty officers who tend to show a bit of gray hair and “donut induced belly droop” at the waistline. Old Guy is a moniker that also refers to retired cops.

I was reminded of my “old guy” status during a past WPA when I overheard instructor Rick McMahan using me as an example to emphasis a point during one of his presentations. He said something similar to, “Lee Lofland could probably tell you about how it went back then. He’s one of the old guys.”

When Denene and I passed that brick house I mentioned above, I immediately recalled sitting in a beat-up old car while two troopers placed “bugs” in the passenger side door panel and beneath the dashboard. I didn’t wear a wire in case the dealer opted to check for one, and he did. My handler, the trooper who lived in the brick house, was briefing me about my “target,” a major drug supplier who sold only large quantities of marijuana (“pot,” back in the day). Nothing smaller than five pounds, actually.

It was my job to gain the man’s confidence and work my way into his trusted circle. The goal was to become one of his dealers. I was brought in from another area to prevent the possibly of recognition. It was a tough assignment for a couple of reasons. One – No one had been able to gain the man’s trust. Two – He was a black man who generally didn’t associate with white people, and I’m obviously white. And he didn’t, as a rule, sell to white people. Didn’t trust them. Not at all. So my assignment was an uphill climb from day one.

But, at the time was hair was quite long and my daily attire was often grungy jeans, t-shirts, and Converse tennis shoes. I definitely looked the part and I walked the walk and talked the talk.

Me completing paperwork at the time of this operation.

Long story short, I did indeed manage to work my way inside the “team” and was soon given five pound packages of “pot” to sell. I was easily successful at unloading the drug because I simply turned it over to my handler, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, through the Va. State Police, kindly forked over the cash/buy money.

To my supplier, I was a fantastic “employee.” He assumed I was selling to white folks from Richmond to Norfolk and Virginia Beach, to Raleigh and everywhere in between. He even accompanied me on a couple of sales to undercover Va. State Police troopers. We arranged these sales to prove that I was not an undercover agent.

So, the day came to make the arrest. Since I was then working other assignments I was not part of the raid team. In fact, I didn’t see the man again until we came face to face in court during his trial, and if looks could kill I’d have been butchered, burned, and fed to wild hogs and hungry lions.

When I took the stand to testify about, in great detail, the operation that brought us to the point of the arrest and subsequent criminal proceedings, his high-priced, fancy-dressed defense attorney tried his best to discredit me. But, it didn’t work. Not even close. To pat myself on the back a bit, I remained calm, cool, and sharp.

Entrapment?

The attorney tried every trick in the book, including the old standby of entrapment. But this one failed miserably. You’ve probably heard someone somewhere say that undercover (UC) police officers absolutely must identify themselves as officers at some point during the operation, otherwise the, as the myth goes, the suspect’s constitutional rights are violated. It is incorrectly believed that if a UC does not identify themselves then they have entrapped the person who committed the crime in question.

Well, hogwash. This is without any doubt whatsoever, a myth of epic proportion. It’s fake news spewed by people who do not know the law.

Yet, this highly-educated and quite successful attorney, well, he sort of went there, asking me this question during his cross examination. “Did you tell my client what you were going to do with the marijuana he gave you? 

I sat in silence for a moment to allow the prosecutor to butt in, object, or whatever,  but he elected to not do or say anything.

Therefore, my response to this dumb question was the first thing that popped into my somewhat warped mind. “No I did not. And I didn’t because I don’t believe he’d have given me large quantities of marijuana to sell if he knew I was handing it over to Va. State Police Troopers for the purpose of building a solid case against him.”

Laughter then roared from the courtroom, and even the judge chuckled before asking the defense attorney if he had any further questions for me. He replied, “No, sir. I don’t believe so.” Then he turned and took a seat.

The drug dealer was found guilty and was handed a lengthy prison sentence.


Entrapment

“Government agents may not originate a criminal design, implant in an innocent person’s mind the disposition to commit a criminal act, and then induce commission of the crime so that the Government may prosecute.” ~ Jacobson v. United States, 503 U.S. 540(1992).

 


Again, I’d truly like to hear you thoughts regarding a potential 2020 Writers’ Police Academy—return to Sirchie, NWTC’s Public Safety Academy in Green Bay, or to simply call it quits.

So please do post your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, if we are to continue hosting this wonderful event we may need volunteers to help out, especially people with experience in planning large events with lots of moving parts. We also may need a few people to fill smaller roles during the event—help with raffle, check-in, reception, banquet, etc.

Working as a WPA volunteer involves lots of hard work and no pay (sounds tempting, I know). However, the experience is extremely rewarding in many ways. If you should consider becoming a WPA volunteer, please keep in mind that the Writers’ Police Academy is not a typical writers conference. There are no craft sessions, agent and/or editor panels, nor are there pitch sessions with agents and/or editors.

The WPA is a hands-on learning event whose focus is solely on teaching writers about law enforcement, forensics, and crime-solving. It’s an event that welcomes everyone, and it’s a place that’s free of politics. It’s fun. It’s exciting. And it truly is a Disneyland for writers of all genres, from beginning writers to top bestselling authors. Fans and readers, journalists, librarians, booksellers, etc. are also welcome to attend.

I’ve heard the word entrapment spoken to or shouted at officers, including me, at least a thousand times over the years, especially when undercover ops came to a close and the bad guys discovered the true identity of a person, an undercover police officer, they’d admitted to their inner circle. That it was the undercover agent to whom they’d spilled their deepest secrets. And it was the sneaky cop to whom they’d trusted enough to sell mounds of illegal goods such as cocaine and/or guns. Those officers who, while during the course of their assignments, concealed their identities to infiltrate criminal enterprises.

And it doesn’t stop there, with undercover operations. No, not at all. I’ve had the word tossed at me during traffic stops and during investigations of murders, burglaries, white collar crimes, and even B&Es.

Entrapment is often a go-to word when a bad guy is caught with his hand in the cookie jar. It’s almost as if some people think it’s a “get out of jail free” card.

So what exactly is entrapment?

For starters, it’s more than simple trickery, such as when undercover cops grow long hair and beards, and wear jeans, t-shirts, and tennis shoes as part of a disguise so that they’ll fit in with a certain crowd. Or, when a female officer wears a tight, short skirt and 10-inch heels while parading along sidewalks pretending to be a hooker who’s fishing for “customers.”

A person is “entrapped” when he is persuaded by police, or their agents—someone acting on their behalf, such as an informant—to commit a crime that he had no previous intention of carrying out. In simpler terms, the officer or agent of the police convinced the person to commit a crime he otherwise would not have committed. Cops may not plant the “commit the crime seed” into the mind of an innocent person.

A defendant who is the victim of entrapment may not be convicted of the crime.

The DOJ – Entrapment

The Department of Justice details entrapment as …

“Entrapment is a complete defense to a criminal charge, on the theory that ‘Government agents may not originate a criminal design, implant in an innocent person’s mind the disposition to commit a criminal act, and then induce commission of the crime so that the Government may prosecute.’ Jacobson v. United States, 503 U.S. 540, 548 (1992). A valid entrapment defense has two related elements: (1) government inducement of the crime, and (2) the defendant’s lack of predisposition to engage in the criminal conduct. Mathews v. United States, 485 U.S. 58, 63 (1988). Of the two elements, predisposition is by far the more important.

Inducement is the threshold issue in the entrapment defense. Mere solicitation to commit a crime is not inducement. Sorrells v. United States, 287 U.S. 435, 451 (1932).”

Solicitation of a Crime is NOT Entrapment!

It’s perfectly legal for police officers to pretend to be someone they’re not in order to get to the bottom of a criminal case. For example, the undercover officer who pretends to be a an arms dealer who requests to purchase illegal firearms from a suspected criminal.

It is not entrapment when a person is ready and willing to commit a crime when approached by an officer, undercover or not.

The mere providing of an opportunity to commit a crime is not entrapment. In order to find entrapment, there must be persuasion to commit a crime by the entrapping party.

Entrapment is a legitimate defense. However, the burden of proof is squarely on the shoulders of the defendant. To claim inducement, a defendant must prove that police conduct absolutely created a situation where a law-abiding citizen (the defendant) would commit an offense. The defendant must prove to the court that he was unjustly persuaded, coerced, threatened, and/or harassed into a situation where he committed the crime for which he was charged.

Again, an undercover officer who merely approaches someone to ask if they’d be willing to sell the officer a quantity of drugs, and they do, this is not entrapment. The officer in no way unjustly persuaded, coerced threatened, and/or harassed the subject. Instead, he asked for a product and the subject delivered the goods.

For example, the case of Officer Ima Agent and cocaine seller Willie Deal:

Officer Ima Agent, dressed in jeans, a Grateful Dead t-shirt, and scuffed, red Chuck Taylors, sees Willie Deal, a suspected drug runner, standing on a street corner. She sees Deal make several exchanges with people—cash for small, pebble-shaped pieces of aluminum foil. So she approaches Deal and their conversation goes something like this.

“What’s up?” says Agent.

Deal gives the female undercover cop a head to toe once over. “Just chillin’. Know what I’m sayin’, Shorty?”

“I’m in town for the weekend visiting my boyfriend. He’s in the county lockup and one of his friends, Joe Blow, said I might be able to hook up around here. He point me in the right direction?”

“Depends, Shorty. Whatcha’ looking for?”

“Just a rock or two. All I got is thirty bucks, though.”

Deal gives her another look. Thinks for a minute. Looks around. Another look. “Okay, Shorty. Let me see the thirty and see what I can do.”

Officer Agent shows Deal a crumpled ten and twenty (undercover cops always wrinkle “buy money.)” New bills are dead giveaways to bad guys, that they’re dealing with a rookie undercover cop.

Deal produces two small foil-wrapped packages. Agent opens one to inspect the goods and determines that it is indeed crack cocaine. Then she signals to her partners with a quick a scratch to the right side of her head, the sign to move in to make the bust.

The scenario between Agent and Deal is a legal arrest. No entrapment.

Deal was absolutely ready and willing to sell drugs. Agent in no way unjustly persuaded, coerced, or threatened Deal to sell her the drugs.

 

Have you ever had one of those bosses who knows everything about everything? You know the type, no matter what you say or do, they know best, did it better, faster, and more cost efficient, all while walking uphill during a snowstorm while barefoot.

Well, as bad as it is for you guys to work for one of these know-it-all’s, imagine doing so while working as a police officer where split-second decisions could mean the difference between someone living or dying.

Add to that, the boss decides he wants to come out and play cops and robbers during an important operation, unannounced, making those split-second decisions for you … over the course of an hour or so without knowing details, background, the names of the bad guys and whether they’re armed, or not. Not a freakin’ clue.

Well, I once had one of those bosses, and …

The bust promised to be a good one—cocaine, heroin, and a boat load (just an expression) of shrooms and pills. I’d worked on the case for a couple of months, spending lots of undercover time hanging out with this group of doofuses, and I’d reached the point where I was ready to get warrants for everyone, including search warrants for two properties.

One residence was the single-story modest home of a guy, Carey D. Weight, who held most of the group’s dope. He also did most of the packaging and transporting. The other search warrant was for the home of the top dog in the operation.

In this case, the top dog was a female—a young, somewhat attractive female, Betty Bigbutt, who lived with her elderly grandmother and her grandmother’s full-time healthcare worker. Oh, and I should mention that the female’s family was very much a high-profile family. Quite well-to-do with a very famous relative.

So, the plan was for one team to search the packager’s home, which was basically a dump, while the other team was set to paw through some extremely expensive items inside an elegant and ornate southern mansion. However, just before executing the warrants, an emergency developed and members of one of the search teams were forced to respond to assist troubled patrol officers.

Therefore, left with only one entry team, I had to change my plans, deciding to go for the top dog first, sending one officer over to guard Weight’s home in case he decided to suddenly depart. I had no idea that the chief of police and one of his captains were out, together, snooping around and playing Junior G-Men.

Our team was in position, ready to knock and announce at the front door when a faint voice crackled in my earpiece. I held up my hand, indicating I wanted everyone to stand down. Thinking something had gone wrong I backed away from the house. I heard the voice again, but couldn’t make out what the person had said. So I turned up the volume.

The barely-above-a-whisper voice of our chief of police came through, and he said, “The groceries have landed.”

I turned toward the officer standing next to me to make sure I’d heard what I thought I’d heard. He shrugged, also not knowing the meaning of our fearless leader’s words.

So I keyed my mic and softly said, “Repeat your traffic.”

And again, “The groceries have landed.”

Remember, an entire entry team, all dressed in black and armed to the max, were hanging out, attempting to hide in a yard in a prestigious neighborhood. Our vehicles were parked a couple of streets over. And here we were, trying to figure out what message our chief was trying to convey, on a radio frequency monitored by everyone in the country who owned a police scanner. He hadn’t bothered to use the tactical channel.

Finally, the colonel says, in a loud bass voice, “Capt. Ding Dong and I are parked across the street from Carey D. Weight’s house, watching it for you until you finish serving the search warrant at Betty Bigbutt’s place. Somebody just showed up with a package. We think it’s drugs. The. Groceries. Have. Landed!”

So much for the element of surprise. He couldn’t have done more harm by using a megaphone to announce the operation and, as a result, it would be only a few minutes before every media truck in town would be parked in front of Weight’s house, hoping for an action-packed breaking story.

Well, since the entire city, county, and state had just learned of our location and plans, I told the team to back off and keep the house under surveillance until I got back. Then I made a beeline for the chief. My hands had already formed a tight circle, one I’m sure would have fit nicely around my bosses neck.

When I turned onto the street where Weight lived, the first thing I saw was the chief’s sparkling white car backed into a large group of head-high hedges, directly across the street from our target’s home, standing out like a sore thumb. The nose of the unmarked car was a mere six or seven feet from the sidewalk, almost close enough that passersby could slap its hood with the palm of a hand. Blue lights in the grill and in the front of the rear-view mirror glowed hotly, reflecting the light from the streetlamp they’d parked under. Yep, Barney and Gomer were incognito, big time.

Needless to say, the bust didn’t take place that night. And I learned to never, ever, tell the chief of my plans. He could learn about them like everyone else … film at 11:00.

 

 

Confidential Informant – a person who provides information to police about criminal activity.

The FBI, of course, conducts undercover operations, as needed, and they do so when such operation appears to be an effective means of obtaining evidence. The same is true for local and state agencies.

However, the FBI, as with other federal agencies, are held to tighter control, rules, and regulations as related to UC assignments. Small and basic details, such as the use of a confidential informant requires adhering to the strict guidelines as required by the Attorney General’s Guidelines on Use of Informants and Confidential Sources. And, believe me, this document is detailed and lengthy.

Even their definition of a confidential informant is a bit wordy.

“ConfidentiaI lnformant” or “CI”‘ – any individual who provides useful and credible information  regarding felonious criminal activities, and from whom the JLEA (Justice Law Enforcement Agency) expects or intends to obtain additional useful and credible information regarding such activities in the future.”

Once a person is selected and approved (more on this below), agents may not reveal the CI’s identity at any time, unless they’re obligated to do so by law or Court order. The rule holds true even when the agent involved in the undercover operation leaves the department for whatever reason—transfer, retirement, etc. Keep in mind that law enforcement cannot guarantee that their name will not be divulged. They’ll do all they can to protect their confidentiality, but if ordered by the courts to reveal their names, they must abide.

According to the FBI, before their CI may be put to use, several factors must be examined, such as the informant’s “age, alien status, whether the person is a public official, law enforcement officer, union official, employee of a financial institution or school, member of the military services, are presentative or affiliate of the media, or a party to, or in a position to be a party to privileged communications, a member of the clergy, a physician, or a lawyer.”

In addition, the JLEA must examine “the extent to which the person would make use of his or her affiliations with legitimate organizations in order to provide information or assistance to the JLEA, and the ability of the JLEA to ensure that the person’s information or assistance is limited to criminal matters.”

Other factors of consideration include, “the extent to which the person’s information or assistance would be relevant to a present or potential investigation or prosecution and the importance of such investigation or prosecution.”

Is Becoming a CI a “Get Out of Jail Free” card?

 

And, “the nature of any relationship between the CI and the subject or target of an existing or potential investigation or prosecution, including but not limited to a current or former spousal relationship or other family tie, and any current or former employment or financial relationship; the person’s motivation in providing information or assistance, including any consideration sought from the government for this assistance; the risk that the person might adversely affect a present or potential investigation or prosecution; the extent to which the person’s information or assistance can be corroborated; the person’s reliability and truthfulness; and the person’s prior record as a witness in any proceeding.”

Furthermore, it must be first determined as to “whether or not the person has a criminal history, is reasonably believed to be the subject or target of a pending criminal investigation, is under arrest, or has been charged in a pending prosecution; whether the person is reasonably believed to pose a danger to the public or other criminal threat, or is reasonably believed to pose a risk of flight; whether the person is a substance abuser or has a history of substance abuse; whether the person is a relative of an employee of any law enforcement agency” … and on and on and on it goes.

Other factors to consider when using CIs in your tales

When making the decision to use a confidential informant, officers must consider the risk of physical harm that could occur to the person or his or her immediate family and/or friends. Nothing is worth the risk of harm to a private citizen.

And …

  • What’s the CIs motive? Perhaps revenge for an act committed against them? If so, is it likely the CI may fabricate or plant evidence?
  • Is the CI a truthful person? Yes, even crooks tell the truth at times. Simply because they sell drugs doesn’t meant they’ll lie about it when asked. Hey, it happens.
  • Serving as a CI does not grant them the authority to engage in illegal activity.
  • They are not considered as employees of the government or local agency.

Finally, a word about entrapment.

Entrapment occurs when a law enforcement officer implants an idea into the mind of a person who would typically not otherwise commit the offense, and then encourage the commission of that offense in order to prosecute the individual.

*By the way, it’s Probable Cause, NOT Probably Cause. Yes, I see and hear this (probably cause) quite often.