Monday, May 14, 2012

Impact of "Rachel's Law" on informant use

The Tallahassee Democrat has published this article about the effects of Rachel's Law on informant use in Florida, four years after the death of Rachel Hoffman: Four years later, Hoffman's death still impacts CI use. The article concludes that the Tallahassee police department made some significant changes.
For six months immediately following Hoffman's death, the department suspended the use of all CIs. For a long time, no one wanted to work narcotics cases, which often rely on informants, the chief said.
"We had to be confident in our investigators that they were ready," Chief Jones said.
An audit of department confidential-informant files conducted about six months after Hoffman was killed found lax record keeping and noted areas of improvement. Personnel were moved, the vice unit was made a part the Criminal Investigations Division of a new Special Investigation Section and supervision was stepped up.
Today, TPD's rules governing the handling of confidential informants mirror that of Rachel's Law, which was spearheaded by Hoffman's parents and provides some safeguards for vulnerable informants.
"I think we've got a very good policy now," Jones said. "We have elevated ourselves and are back in the lead and set the tone for the state."
Tallahassee is reminiscent of Los Angeles in the 1990s. After a massive grand jury investigation concluded that the jail was rampant with unreliable informants and that police and prosecutors were relying on them, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office instituted significant changes. Today, it has some of the most rigorous regulations for the tracking and use of jailhouse informants in the country: Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Legal Policies Manual.