Bump Bump Bump
The term 'selective abstraction' is used in psychology to describe a flawed or prejudicial way of thinking. What occurs in this type of cognitive bias is that a person takes detail out of context and believes that while everything else in context is ignored. In lay terms it is what is 'cherry-picking'. In essence it is not reading the whole story but then basing an argument on the bits you have selected. It is about pointing out everything that is wrong in the way informants are managed and refusing to see the huge amount of good that is done through their use. It is about turning a blind eye to informants that have been mismanaged, pretending these were isolated incidents, then refusing to learn from them. It is a very human failing. We don't want to see what is wrong on our side. We don't want to or can't see another perspective because maybe if we do it means acknowledging we have not been doing things as well as we could have.
When it comes to managing informants everywhere, including the US, there are problems but there is also a significant amount of good work being done and this needs to be recognised. Citizens need to realise how valuable a resource that informants are both in regard to our safety and to the criminal justice system. If a terrorist is intent in bombing our cities then let us hope that somewhere a police officer has an informant stuck in the middle of that plot. If someone is dealing drugs outside the high school where our children attend, then let us hope that a police officer has heard about it from an informant. If one of our children has become mixed up in gang violence then let us hope that a police officer hears about that before we end up burying that child. Every law abiding citizen should be encouraging others to give information about crime to law enforcement.
But all involved in the criminal justice system need to recognise that there are problems with the way in which informants are managed at present. This is not just about protecting the rights of citizens it is also about officer safety. While there are many progressive law enforcement agencies that are attempting to raise standards there is not a collective approach and as such those improvements are likely to have limited success. Is significant change possible? I believe it is and I have seen evidence of it within a number of forward thinking US law enforcement agencies. These include the major police department that has undertaken the training of every officer in relation to the risks involved in informant management, a police department involved proactively recruiting informants to address specific threats, agencies that are writing new and better policies and the sheriff's department that has altered business processes and implemented a comprehensive software solution to provide full accountability in all informant cases - officers with objectivity and vision.
Filed in Guest bloggerPermalink