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Confidential Informants : A Closer Look at Police Policy (Paperback) (Jon Shane)

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This Brief examines the role of confidential informants (CI’s) in police operations within the United States, provides an overview of pitfalls and problems, and provides recommendations for improvements. While CIs can play a crucial role in police investigations, they also have the potential to do great harm if they lack training or reliability.

The author of this Brief lays out practical solutions for testing and training CIs before they enter the field, and proposes changes in policy to apply these changes. Courts have issued measures to ensure that information received from CIs is reliable by examining sworn testimony and documents related to their work. However, as this Brief explores, this judicial effort arises only after a police operation has taken place, and the use of force – even deadly force—has already been employed. The author proposes integrity testing, which would allow police to have a greater understanding of a CI’s motivation, ability and veracity when conducting law enforcement operations. In addition, there are aspects of police policy that can enhance CI management such as training, supervision and entrapment that can further guard against integrity problems. Although integrity testing is not flawless, it does interpose an additional step in the CI management process that can help guard against wrongful conviction and perjury that harms the judicial process.

This work will be of interest to researchers in Criminology and Criminal Justice, particularly involved with policing, police studies, and eyewitness testimony, as well as related fields like Forensic Psychology and Public Policy.

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