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Developing Street Sources: Tips for Patrol Officers

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 77 Issue: 9 Dated: September 2008 Pages: 24-27
Robert Botsch M.S.
Date Published
September 2008
4 pages
This article discusses the importance in the recruitment and development of street sources (or informants), an effective tool for law enforcement agencies in solving crime.
Law enforcement agencies should encourage patrol officers to recruit and develop street sources or informants. Street sources give law enforcement agencies more than just eyes and ears in the community. The greater the number of sources a department develops, the better it can “data mine” the streets for information. Officers can find potential street sources almost anywhere; every contact brings an opportunity to obtain valuable information and assess a person’s usefulness as a street source. However, officers will have to use their experience and discretion to determine who to approach and how to do so. Individuals with regular access to people, places, and information that law enforcement agencies are interested in make the best sources. Key operating elements to utilizing street sources include (1) officers must make themselves available to their sources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; (2) officers working with street sources should always have two source handlers, a primary and a secondary ensuring that two people can reach the sources and who the source can contact with information; (3) officers should remain professional at all times when working with sources; (4) officers should not lie to their sources or make promises they cannot keep; and (5) handlers must safeguard their sources’ identities and ensure confidentiality. Good sources equal good information. A well-developed network of sources can provide a constant flow of relevant information that can help departments better deploy their resources. To efficiently and effectively accomplish this, agencies should take advantage of the street contacts uniform officers make every day. 5 notes