Skip navigation

Model Policy - Confidential Informants and Information, IACP, 2009

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.

Model Policy
Effective Date
July 2008


Confidential Informants and Information


Special Instructions
Reevaluation Date
July 2009

The purpose of this policy is to provide protocols for
the control and use of confidential informants (CI).

It is the policy of this law enforcement agency to take
necessary precautions by developing sound informant
control procedures. In many instances, a successful
investigation cannot be conducted without the use of
CIs. While the use of CIs can be an effective tool in
investigations, it can be undermined by misconduct of
the CI or improper handling by the officer using the

Confidential informant: An individual who, in an
arrangement with law enforcement authorities, agrees
to serve in a clandestine capacity to gather information for those authorities on suspected criminal activity or known criminal operatives in exchange for compensation or consideration.
Confidential informant file: File maintained in order
to document all information that pertains to confidential informants.
Unreliable informant file: File containing information pertaining to individuals determined to be generally unfit to serve as informants.
Compelling public interest: For purposes of this policy, situations in which failure to act would result or
likely result in loss of life, serious injury, or have some
serious negative consequence for persons, property, or
public safety and therefore demand action.
Handler: The officer primarily responsible for
supervision and management of a CI.

No. Pages

A. Initial Suitability Determination
1. An officer requesting use of an individual as an
informant shall complete an Initial Suitability
Report. The report shall be submitted to the
department’s chief of detectives or other authorized personnel to review for potential selection as a CI. The report shall include sufficient
detail regarding the risks and benefits of using
the individual so that a sound determination
can be made. The following information shall
be addressed in the report where applicable:
a. Age, sex, and residency status
b. Immigration status
c. Employment status or occupation
d. Affiliation with legitimate businesses and
illegal or suspicious enterprises
e. Extent to which potential information, associations, or other assistance could benefit a
present or future investigation
f. Relationship between the potential CI and
the target of an investigation
g. The CI’s motivation in providing information or assistance
h. Risk that he or she might adversely affect
an existing or future investigation
i. Extent to which provided information can
be corroborated
j. Prior record as a witness
k. Criminal history, to include whether he or
she is the subject of a pending investigation, is under arrest, or has been charged
l. Whether he or she is reasonably believed to
pose a risk to the public, or is a flight risk
m. Whether he or she is a substance abuser
n. Whether he or she is related to anyone in
law enforcement

who are current or former participants of the
federal witness security program. Use of such
individuals as CIs requires, at a minimum,
approval of the department of corrections.
C. Establishment of an Informant File System
1. The officer in charge of the criminal investigations function shall be responsible for developing and maintaining master informant files and
an indexing system.
2. A file shall be maintained on each CI deemed
suitable by the department. An additional file
shall be established for CIs deemed unsuitable
during initial suitability determinations or at a
later time. Each file shall be coded with an
assigned informant control number for identification within the indexing system and shall
include the following information:
a. Name, aliases, and date of birth
b. Height, weight, hair color, eye color, race,
sex, scars, tattoos, or other distinguishing
c. Name of officer initiating use of the informant and any subsequent officer handlers
d. Photograph, fingerprints, and criminal history record
e. Current home address and telephone number(s)
f. Residential addresses in the last five years
g. Current employer, position, address, and
telephone number
h. Marital status and number of children
i. Vehicles owned and their registration numbers
j. Places frequented
k. Gang affiliations
l. Briefs of information provided by the CI
and their subsequent reliability
m. Special skills and avocations
n. Special areas of criminal expertise or
o. A copy of the signed informant agreement
3. Informant files shall be maintained in a separate and secured area in the criminal investigations section.
4. Informant files shall be used for the following
a. Provide a source of background information about the informant
b. Provide a complete history of the information received from the informant
c. Enable supervisory review and evaluation
of information given by the informant
d. Minimize incidents that could be used to
question the integrity of investigators or the
reliability of the CI
e. Help prevent unwanted duplicate uses of
the same CI by officers in this department

o. Whether there is risk of physical harm to
the potential CI or his or her immediate
family or relatives for cooperating with the
p. Any prior or current service as a CI with
this or another law enforcement organization
2. Each CI’s suitability shall be reviewed annually (at a minimum), during which time the CI’s
primary officer contact shall submit a
Continuing Suitability Report addressing the
foregoing issues in IV.A.1.a.-p. where applicable.
3. Any information that may negatively affect a
CI’s suitability during the course of his or her
use shall be forwarded to the chief of detectives
or other authorized personnel for information
and appropriate action as soon as possible.
4. Supervisors shall review informant files regularly with the handler and shall attend debriefings of CIs periodically as part of the informant
management process.
5. CI contracts shall be terminated and the CI file
placed in inactive status when the CI has not
been used for one year or more.
B. Special CI Approval Requirements
Certain individuals who are being considered for
use as a CI require special review and approval.
They include the following classes of individuals:
1. Juveniles
Use of a juvenile under the age of 18 as a CI
may only be undertaken with the advance
approval of the department chief executive or
his or her designee, and with the written authorization of the individual’s parents or
guardians. Authorization for such use should
be granted only when a compelling public
interest can be demonstrated.
2. Individuals Obligated by Legal Privilege of
This class of individuals includes, but may not
be limited to, attorneys, physicians, and members of the media. The office of the prosecutor
and the chief of police shall be consulted before
any officers use such individuals as CIs.
3. Governmental Officials
This includes persons in high-level and highly
sensitive local, state, or federal governmental
positions. The office of the prosecutor and chief
of police shall be consulted before any officers
use such individuals as CIs.
4. Wards of the Corrections Authority
This includes persons who are in the custody of
local or state departments of corrections or
under their supervision in the community
through probation, parole, supervised release,
or other programs. It may also include persons

5. The officer in charge of informant files shall
ensure that information concerning informants
is strictly controlled and distributed only to
officers and other authorities who have a need
and a right to such information.
6. Sworn personnel may review an individual’s
informant file only upon the approval of the
chief or his designee. The requesting officer
shall submit a written request explaining the
need for review. A copy of this request, with
the officer’s name, shall be maintained in the
CI’s file. Such officers shall not remove, copy
or disseminate information from the file; all
informant files shall be reviewed only in designated areas of the police facility and returned
as soon as possible to their secure file location.
7. All disclosures or access to informant files shall
be recorded by the file supervisor to include
information such as the requesting officer or
agency, the purpose of access or disclosure, the
information conveyed, and the date and time of
access or dissemination.
8. The name of a CI shall not be included in an
affidavit for warrant unless judicial authority is
obtained to seal the document from public
record or the CI is a subject of the investigation
upon which the affidavit is based. Additionally,
officers shall scrupulously avoid providing
details of CI actions or involvement in arrest
reports and other documents available to the
9. No portion of a CI’s file shall be entered into
any other electronic or related database without controls sufficient to exclude access to all
but authorized personnel with a need and a
right to know.
10. Handlers are responsible for ensuring that
information of potential value to other elements of the department is provided promptly
to authorized supervisory personnel.
11. Employees leaving employment with the
department have a continuing obligation to
maintain as confidential the identity of any CI
and the information he or she provided unless
obligated to reveal such identity or information
by law or court order.
D. General Guidelines for Handling CIs
1. CIs are assets of the department, not the individual handler.
2. CIs shall not be used without authorization of
the department through procedures identified
in this policy.
3. CIs shall not be used to gather information on
individuals who are not otherwise under investigation or suspicion of criminal conduct.
4. CIs shall not be used for gathering information
purely of a political nature or for other infor-







mation-gathering efforts that are not connected
with a criminal investigation.
All CIs shall sign and abide by the provisions of
the departmental informant agreement. The
primary officer handling the CI shall discuss
each of the provisions of the agreement with
the CI, with particular emphasis on the following:
a. Informants are not law enforcement officers. They have no arrest powers, are not
permitted to conduct searches and seizures,
and may not carry a weapon.
b. Informants will be arrested if found engaging in any illegal activity. They will receive
no special legal considerations.
c. Informants are prohibited from engaging in
actions or activities that could be deemed
entrapment. The meaning of the term and
implications of such actions shall be
explained to each CI. For instance, CIs shall
not participate in actions that encourage,
persuade, or otherwise motivate a person
to engage in criminal activity.
d. Informants are prohibited from engaging in
self-initiated information or intelligence
gathering without departmental direction
and approval.
e. Every reasonable effort will be taken to
ensure the confidentiality of the informant
but, upon judicial order, he or she may be
required to testify in open court.
f. Informants may be directed to wear a listening and recording device.
g. Informants may be required to submit to a
search before and after a controlled purchase.
Officers shall take the utmost care to avoid conveying any confidential investigative information to a CI (such as the identity of other informants, surveillance activities, or search warrants) other than what is necessary and appropriate for operational purposes.
No member of this agency shall knowingly
maintain a social relationship with CIs, or otherwise become personally involved with CIs
beyond actions required in the performance of
duty. Members of this agency shall not solicit,
accept gratuities from, or engage in any private
business transaction with a CI.
Meetings with CIs shall be conducted in private and with another officer present. Meetings
with CIs shall be documented and subsequently entered into the CI’s file.
When reasonably possible, officers shall corroborate information provided by a CI and
document efforts to do so in the informant or
case file.

E. Monetary Payments
1. All fees and rewards paid to CIs shall be commensurate with the value of the information or
assistance provided the department.
2. All CI payments shall be approved in advance
by the officer in charge of confidential funds.
3. Officers shall provide accounting of monies
received and documentation for expenditure of
confidential funds expended.
4. Two officers shall be present when making payments or providing funds to CIs.
5. The commanding officer of criminal investigations shall ensure that the process for authorization, disbursement, and documentation of
CI payments, as well as the accounting and reconciliation of confidential funds is consistent
with this department’s policy.1
6. If a CI is authorized to work with another law
enforcement or prosecutorial agency, financial
payments shall be coordinated between the
agencies in a manner that is proportionate to
the assistance rendered to each agency and
consistent with provision IV.E.1. of this policy.

See International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Law Enforcement Policy
Center, “Confidential Funds: Model Policy,” Alexandria, Va.: 1989.

Every effort has been made by the IACP National Law Enforcement Policy
Center staff and advisory board to ensure that this model policy incorporates the
most current information and contemporary professional judgment on this issue.
However, law enforcement administrators should be cautioned that no “model”
policy can meet all the needs of any given law enforcement agency. Each law
enforcement agency operates in a unique environment of federal court rulings, state
laws, local ordinances, regulations, judicial and administrative decisions and collective bargaining agreements that must be considered. In addition, the formulation
of specific agency policies must take into account local political and community
perspectives and customs, prerogatives and demands; often divergent law enforcement strategies and philosophies; and the impact of varied agency resource capabilities among other factors.

This project was supported by Grant No. 2006-DG-BX-K004 awarded by the
Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
The Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs, coordinates the activities of the following program offices and bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance,
the Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Institute of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice
and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office of Victims of Crime. Points of view or
opinions in this document are those of the author and do not represent the official
position or policies of the United States Department of Justice or the IACP.

© Copyright 2008. International Association of Chiefs of Police, Alexandria,
Virginia U.S.A. All rights reserved under both international and Pan-American
copyright conventions. No reproduction of any part of this material may be made
without prior written consent of the copyright holder.


During my association with the {name} Police Department as an Informant, I, the undersigned, do hereby agree to be
bound by the following conditions and procedures while so associated:

1. I agree that I have no police power under the State of {state} or any local governmental subdivision and have
no authority to carry a weapon while performing my activity as an Informant.
2. I acknowledge that I am not authorized to engage in any criminal activity in furtherance of my role as a CI
and will not be granted immunity from prosecution for any crimes committed.
3. I acknowledge that I am associated with the {name} Police Department as an Informant on a case or time basis
as an independent contractor and that any payment I receive from the {name} Police Department will not be
subject to federal or state income tax withholding or social security. All reporting of income is the responsibility of the Informant.
4. I further acknowledge that as an Informant and independent contractor, I am not entitled to workman’s compensation or unemployment compensation from the State of {state} and I shall not hold {county} County liable
for any injuries or damage incurred by reason of my association with the {name} Police Department. As an
independent contractor I further acknowledge that I may not take or seek any independent action on behalf
of the {name} Police Department or City of {city} and that I may not represent myself as an employee of same,
nor enter into any contract or obligation on their behalf, unless specifically authorized to do so.
5. I further agree not to divulge to any person, except the investigator with whom I am associated, my status as
an Informant for the {name} Police Department unless required to do so in court and shall not represent
myself to others as an employee or representative of the {name} Police Department.
6. I further agree not to use the {name} Police Department or any of its officers as credit references or employment references unless prior approval is obtained from the investigator with whom I am associated.
7. I further agree that my association with the {name} Police Department does not afford me any special privileges.
8. I further agree that after making a purchase of anything of evidentiary value, I will deliver such evidence to
my investigator as soon as possible.
9. I further agree to maintain a strict accounting of all funds provided to me by the {name} Police Department as
part of my activity as an Informant. I understand that misuse of funds could be grounds for criminal prosecution against me.
10. I acknowledge that I have read and fully understand the provisions of this agreement.

Dated this_____ day of _____, 20_____.
Informant _____________________________
Investigator _____________________________