REX as a Confidential Informant Database

“Among the control procedures agencies should institute is an informant file system that not only maintains personal, descriptive, and criminal information about informants but also clearly establishes informants’ credibility and reliability. Information provided in investigations by even the most credible and reliable informants must always be corroborated.” (Brian Lieberman, Police Chief Magazine).

The use of Confidential Informants has become fundamental in investigations. As defined by the United States Office of Inspector General, a confidential informant or “CI” is “any individual who provides useful and credible information to a Justice Law Enforcement Agency (JLEA) regarding felonious criminal activities and from whom the JLEA expects or intends to obtain additional useful and credible information regarding such activities in the future” (Office of Inspector General, 2005).

Relying on the assistance of CIs can pose many challenges and risks to the police agent, the agency as a whole, and the CI. It is essential, and often mandated, that officers utilizing CIs for investigations ensure proper recording of CI information, as well as the interactions that occur between the CI and the agent throughout the investigative process. REX, Agnovi’s investigation and criminal intelligence gathering and analysis software, is ideal for storing and tracking information on confidential informants. REX includes a relational data base for storing structured intelligence data (entities and corroborating events).

Once an individual is established as a CI, the agent must record the following information (not limited to), as outlined by the Office of Inspector General (2005):

  • Photograph of the CI;
  • CIs true identity (if known);
  • Criminal history check results;
  • Any promises or benefits, and the terms of such promises or benefits, that are given to a CI by the law enforcement agency, by a federal prosecuting office or any state or local prosecuting office.

REX supports the capturing of person records, with the ability to document personal information, such as age, alien status and occupation, as well as any descriptive information agencies may have on a CI.

Entities (e.g. person, organization, vehicle, etc.) may be easily linked to one another, denoting relationships between CIs and subjects of interest. System generated relationship charts create visual representations of these relationships. Entity records may also be linked to one or more files in REX.

REX supports the uploading of file attachments (e.g. Word documents, pdf, Excel spreadsheets, photos, audio recordings, videos, etc). Documents, such as criminal record checks, mug shots, signed agreements between the CI and the agency, etc. are readily available to investigators and managers for reference.

CIs may participate in illegal activity while acting as a CI. Often, these CIs will claim that the government has authorized or immunized their crime (Office of Inspector General, 2005). Information can be stored in REX on the specific instructions and allowances given to each CI before they become a CI, ensuring that if a CI participates in illicit activity, the agreement established between the agency and the CI is clearly documented and accessible.

Another issue that may arise is that the informant’s identity will be disclosed in the course of the prosecution. The common law “informer’s privilege” generally shields an informant’s identity, but countervailing constitutional or policy considerations may result in court-ordered disclosure (Office of Inspector General, 2005). REX is a privileged base system, allowing for sensitive information on informants to be hidden from certain investigators or system administrators, ensuring that information regarding a CI is only disclosed when or if needed.

REX supports the creation of entity records without having mandatory name fields. This ensures that the names of the CIs will not accidently be disclosed. If a CI’s name is included in REX, REX supports the ability to redact/vet sensitive information, as to ensure the name of the CI is not prematurely released.

REX may also be used to track the contributions a CI has made in an investigation (e.g. search warrants, arrests, etc), and ensure that there is no misconduct happening from the officers regarding the use of confidential informants.

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Information for this article was extracted from the following sources:

“Ethical Issues in the Use of Confidential Informants for Narcotic Operations”, By Brian Lieberman, Supervisor of Special Investigations, Winter Haven Police Department, Winter Haven, Florida. The Police Chief Magazine, vol. 74, no. 6, June 2007.

“Chapter Three: The Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants”, from The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Compliance with the Attorney General’s Investigative Guidelines; Office of the Inspector General; September 2005;