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Executive Summary:

This article will focus on how to research FBI policies and procedures for the operation of informants. These documents are available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIPA). 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. Just search document name in Google to locate site.

Background:

Informants are critical to any law enforcement mission. However, because of the criminal backgrounds of many informants, they can become a major problem for law enforcement, if not handled properly, thus the need for detailed policies and procedures setting forth how informants are to be handled.

Case Examples:

An informant:

  1. Engages in violations of Federal and state laws while providing information to the FBI.
  2. Uses his relationship with the FBI to have local, state, and Federal charges dismissed.
  3. Uses the FBI as a source of information so that he can further his criminal operations and eliminate competition.
  4. Engages in acts of violence without telling his FBI contact.
  5. Burglarizes the office of an attorney who is representing a defendant under FBI investigation to determine defense strategy.
  6. 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

The FOIPA requires the FBI and other federal law enforcement organizations to release many of their records to the public. There are situations in which the law enforcement agency is allowed to redact sections of their policies and procedures under the FOIPA.

The following is a list of documents you may access on the internet. In each case, search the title of the publication and Google will show where these documents are located.

1. 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 may 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.

2. "Department of Justice Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants, January 8, 2001".

This document applies to all federal law enforcement agencies, is user friendly and can be highlighted and searched.

3. The "Confidential Human Source (CHS) Policy Manual".

This FBI document is for the operation of certain types of informants. Due to heavy redactions, this document is virtually useless for research.

4. "The Attorney General's Guidelines on the Use of FBI Confidential Human Sources".

This document contains no redactions.

5. "Legal Handbook for Special Agents".

This is the Handbook for Special Agents of the FBI. Section 8 covers informants and entrapment.

6. Informants and Undercover Investigations: A Practical Guide to Law, Policy, and Procedure by Dennis G. Fitzgerald.

This book may be purchased on Amazon and related sites and covers many federal law enforcement agencies.

7. "The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Compliance with the Attorney General's Investigative Guidelines (Redacted) Special Report September 2005 Office of the Inspector General".

This document contains the history of the FBI's use of informants. There are many instructive examples about the use of informants and how dangerous they can be in a law enforcement agency if not properly controlled.

9. The FBI MIOG can be purchased from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. (nacdl.org)

10. Deal with the Devil by Peter Lance, Tenacity Media Group Ltd, 2013.

Highly researched and documented, this book concerns the long term relationship between the FBI and Gregory Scarpa Sr. who was a Top Echelon Mafia informant. He allegedly obtained information from the FBI which allowed him to locate and murder people who may have been in competition with him. Lance has obtained many original FBI documents some of which are in the book. This is a fascinating story of how not to operate an informant.

Conclusion:

The operation of informants by all law enforcement organizations is a risky and potentially dangerous business which requires strict adherence to policies and procedures. Policies and procedures for the operation of informants by the FBI are available through the FOIPA and may be accessed through the internet at various sites.

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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 court. 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. dvogel1@cox.net

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