February 18, 2016
Confidential Informants – Cooperating Witnesses – Confidential Human Sources
This article will focus on researching FBI policies and procedures for the operation of confidential informants. These documents are available to the public through the Freedom of information Act. Researching FBI records can be very difficult and frustrating since many of the records are not searchable once you find the record you desire. Lawyers who need help researching these records may find that it is more cost effective to hire an expert to find the information they need.
All of the documents mentioned in this article are available on the internet.
Informants are critical to any law enforcement mission. However, because of the criminal backgrounds of most confidential informants, they can become a major problem for law enforcement if not handled carefully. This is why the FBI has developed detailed policies and procedures setting forth how confidential informants are to be handled.
- Engage in violations of Federal and state laws while providing information to the FBI.
- Uses their relationship with the FBI to have local, state, and Federal charges dismissed.
- Use the FBI as a source of information so that he can further his criminal operations and eliminate competition.
- Engage in acts of violence without telling his FBI contact.
- Burglarize the office of an attorney who is representing a defendant under FBI investigation to determine defense strategy.
- Does not claim as income money he receives for information.
All of the above acts would be a violation of the FBI’s Policies and Procedures for the operation of informants.
Research of FBI Informant Policies and Procedures
With the advent of the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI and other federal law enforcement organizations were required to release many of their records to the public. There are situations which the law enforcement agency may redact sections of their policies and procedures under the FOIPA if certain requirements are met.
The following is a list of documents you may access on the internet:
- The FBI’s Manual of Investigative Operations and Guidelines (MIOG). Search “FBI MIOG” and you will be shown a list of sites where this information is available. The MIOG is a massive multiple volume document that is not searchable. For a person who is not familiar with the MIOG, you can become very frustrated very quickly due to the amount of time it takes to find the desired information.
- MIOG Volume 2, Part 1, Section 137 is where you will find policies and procedures for the operation of informants.
- The Department of Justice Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants, dated January 8, 2001. This document applies to all federal law enforcement agencies, is user friendly and can be highlighted and searched.
- The Confidential Human Source (CHS) Policy Manual. This document is a new manual for the operation of certain types of informants. Due to heavy redactions, this document is virtually worthless to the public.
- The Attorney General’s Guidelines on the Use of FBI Confidential Human Sources. This document has some of the same information as the FBI’s new manual but is not redacted.
- FBI Legal Handbook.
- Informants and Undercover Investigations: A Practical Guide to Law, Policy, and Procedure by Dennis G. Fitzgerald for additional information. This book may be purchased on Amazon and related sites and covers many federal law enforcement agencies.
The operation of informants by all law enforcement organizations is a risky and potentially dangerous situation which requires strict adherence to policies and procedures. Policies and procedures for the operation of confidential informants by the FBI are available through the Freedom of information Act. MIOG, Volume 2, Part 1 Section 137 covers the operation of confidential informants. Research of this document is difficult due to the size and the fact that the document is not searchable. “Department of Justice Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants,” dated January 8, 2001 may be more helpful. Another FBI document titled “The Confidential Human Source Policy Manual” is virtually worthless (for the public) due to the number of redactions. A better option is “The Attorney General’s Guidelines on the Use of FBI Confidential Human Sources.” All of these documents are available on the internet. Another good source for research is Informants and Undercover Investigation: A Practical Guide to Law, Policy, and Procedure by Dennis G. Fitzgerald. This may be purchased on Amazon and related sites.
About the Author:
Dan L. Vogel is Forensic Consultant Expert Witness based in Oklahoma City. He has 27 years of Federal law enforcement experience and has testified as an expert in Federal and state courts. Pro Bono work is performed on a case by case basis. He is currently a member of the Consulting Committee, The American Investigative Society of Cold Cases. firstname.lastname@example.org