Have you ever wondered how confidential informants (or CI’s, as they’re internally referenced) work, if they get paid, and if they escape prosecution? Here’s the definitive guide – direct from the MNPD Operations Manual.
Inside the world of confidential informants, there several different breakdowns:
- Informant: A person who provides the department with information about criminal investigations. This includes any individual whose identity is known to the officer and who is sent by the officer to Crime Stoppers to receive payment.
- Cooperating Individual: An ordinary citizen with no criminal history or background, who provides information or assistance of investigative significance to employees of the Metropolitan Police Department.
- Special Operative: An Informant/Cooperating Individual, acting at the direction, request, or encouragement of an employee of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Every CI will have a physical folder of information completed about them, and it will remain in a cabinet, locked with a physical lock and key, in the control of the division commander, be that CID, Youth Services, or VICE. Inside the folder you will find:
- MNPD Form 336 – Informant Interview Report
- Informant’s current photograph
- Informant’s code name
- Informant’s fingerprints
- Background Information, including complete criminal history, copies of any offense or arrest report in which the informant is named as a suspect or victim
- Required Financial Accountability form
- Agreements related to the payment of money to Informant/CI
- Brief synopsis of the case
Note: All the above must be completed and documented before any Informant/CI can be used as a ‘special operative’
Can juveniles be confidential informants? YES. Youth Services Division will maintain those files, and they will be designated with a ‘J’ before any index number. All juveniles will be in compliance with compliance with T.C.A. 39-15-413 and all applicable rules of the Davidson County Juvenile Court regarding the use of children in law enforcement.
Who can access your informant file? Commanders of each division maintain the physical keys to the storage cabinet(s). If an investigator need information for a particular investigation, they may contact the commander, who will determine if any informants may be able to obtain relevant information about the crime under investigation. Community Services Bureau officers may also request information from the CI files, with the approval of their immediate supervisor.
Guidelines for using non-arrested Informants/CI’s:
In misdemeanor cases if the decision is made not to arrest the person immediately, the officer shall get approval from his/her supervisor, shall report and document the action, and discuss the results of any assistance the non-arrested informant gave with the District Attorney General’s Office as soon as practical.
The decision not to arrest or defer prosecution of individuals for felony violations in exchange for cooperation and/or information must have the prior approval, preferably in writing, of a member of the District Attorney’s Office.
- up to 26 grams of cocaine, 14.175 grams up to 70 pounds of marijuana
The decision not to arrest individuals in violation of T.C.A. 39-17-417 (a-h) in exchange for cooperation and/or information must be approved by the officer’s supervisor.
Prosecution must commence by warrant or indictment within six (6) months unless written approval to defer prosecution is obtained.
- 26 to 300 grams of cocaine, 70 pounds, one ounce to 700 pounds of marijuana
The decision not to arrest individuals in violation of T.C.A. 39-17-417 (i) in exchange for cooperation and/or information must be approved by the officer’s supervisor and notification must be made to the District Attorney’s Office as soon as practical.
Prosecution must commence within six (6) months unless written approval to defer prosecution is obtained.
- 300+ grams of cocaine, 700+ pounds of marijuana
The decision not to arrest individuals in violation of T.C.A. 39-17-417 (j) (e.g. ) in exchange for cooperation and/or information must be approved by the officer’s supervisor. Written approval must also be obtained from the District Attorney, or a Deputy District Attorney. Oral notification must be made by the next working day. A copy of the case file, criminal history, search warrant, seizure forms, etc. must be provided before written approval can be obtained.
Here’s the deal on promises!
- An officer developing, working with, and using Informants/C.I.’s must NEVER promise the Informant/C.I. anything concerning any criminal prosecution or return of vehicles or property. It is not improper, however, for the officer to advise that he/she will make their cooperation and assistance known to the District Attorney’s Office.
- There must be no discussions or negotiations with Informants/C.I.’s concerning payments or contributions to any fund (Drug Fund, Felony Forfeiture Fund, etc.) for either not placing or reducing any criminal charges.
- Any officer developing Informants/C.I.’s shall advise them early in the relationship that they will probably be required, sometime during the course of the case, to testify in court.
POLYGRAPH? Yes, the use of the polygraph to verify information supplied by an Informant/C.I. that cannot be corroborated by other sources, such as surveillance and/or intelligence reports, may be required in some cases.
A review of the Informant/C.I. file, background investigation, and personal interview of the Informant/C.I. will be conducted before using the Informant/C.I. as a Special Operative. The approval by a supervisor will be documented in the file by the signing of MNPD Form 336, Informant/C.I. Interview Form. The use of Informants/C.I.’s as operatives actually purchasing or otherwise involved in transactions concerning drugs or other contraband will be subject to the following controls when the handling of drugs, contraband or other evidence by the Special Operative is necessary.
- The completion of all documentation and other enumerated requirements concerning conduct and required testimony.
- A thorough search of the Special Operative, his/her automobile, if used, and passengers, if any, will be made. This search will be conducted by the case officer or a designee prior to any purchase or meeting between the Informant/C.I. and the subject of an investigation. The search will be primarily for drugs and weapons, but any evidence of unlawful activity will be noted and the appropriate action (arrest, citation, etc.) taken.
- Continued surveillance of the Special Operative to, from, and during the transaction or meeting.
- A thorough search of the Special Operative, his/her vehicle, and passengers after delivery of evidence to the case officer.
- A complete debriefing, to include a complete written report concerning the circumstances of the transaction.
- The use of electronic and/or video surveillance, if appropriate, requires signed consent. MNPD Form 338, Consent for Audio/Video Intercept, shall be signed by the Special Operative. The case officer will be responsible for verifying an Audio/Video Intercept Form is signed, or a Consent for Audio/Video Intercept is on file.
Let’s Talk MONEY!
The Investigative Services Bureau Chief and the Vice Division Commander shall have sole authorization for the distribution of moneys from the Investigative and/or Drug Fund. Due to varying circumstances, involved in each case, the amount of payment will be determined on a-case-by case basis. Factors to be given consideration should include:
- quality of the information,
- the quantity of drugs or contraband seized
- the willingness or likelihood that the informant will have to testify in court
- the ease of handling the informant, etc.
The following guidelines shall be followed when moneys from the Investigative or Drug Fund are utilized:
- All requests for disbursements shall be made as soon as the officer determines money from the Investigative or Drug Fund will be required.
- Personnel who must use investigative or drug funds will obtain such money from the component administrator or supervisor authorized to distribute such funds. To procure such money, personnel must complete MNPD Form 331, Receipt For Currency Used To Purchase Information, adhering to the following:
- The completed voucher form should include all details available;
- A complaint number, if available, will be placed on the voucher;
- If a confidential informant will receive these moneys, the informant’s name or code name will be placed on the form;
- The informant will sign the voucher receipt for moneys given to him/her;
- MNPD Form 331 will be signed by the officer dispersing the money, and by the component commander or his/her designee;
- At the conclusion of the investigation, or when requested by the Investigative Services Bureau Chief or the Vice Division Commander, the officer using the investigative or drug funds will specify in writing the exact nature of the expenditure, any enforcement action taken as a result of the expenditure, and forward the document to the Investigative Services Bureau Chief or the Vice Division Commander;
- All requests for money in the amount of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500.00) or more will require the approval of the Investigative Services Bureau Chief or his/her designee;
- Any money to be given to any informant must have the approval of the officer’s supervisor; and
- Under no circumstances will “front money”, or payment prior to information being delivered, be provided to an informant while conducting an investigation.
The Investigative Services Bureau Chief and the Vice Division Commander will have their investigative funds accounts
balanced on a monthly basis. A report of this audit will be provided to the Chief of Police for his/her retention.
EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES: All of the above rules must be followed, except when they’re not. MNPD’s policy states that if exigent circumstances exist, and it’s in the best interest of the department, the Division Commander can grant an emergency variance, justify it in writing, and place it in the CI’s file.
There’s a lot more details information the MNPD Manual Section ‘Handling of Cooperating Individuals‘, which is also below: