Saturday Story

There seems a lot of information lately about informants and the like instigating incidents and such. Here’s my take.


After returning from Los Angeles in ’75, I found the current group of young officers had already heard of me (both good and bad) and many liked the way I worked and what I had accomplished. It didn’t take long before we were sitting around after work sharing stories, asking questions and discussing the common attitudes of brother officers and supervisors.  The question of how to cultivate an informant always came up.

Most of these younger officers looked to became more proactive and tended to respond quicker to calls and to make more “on view” arrests. Most of them would try to cultivate sources and snitches only to be warned off by older officers as if the source was private property.

On the topic of snitches or information sources, there is always an under laying reason for their information giving.

Of course, one major reason is always revenge to right wrongs real or imagined. Some people just have to “get even”. These will often make-up information, or misrepresent the facts to make the information better than it really is.

Another is to harm the competition. My partner and I knew that’s why the “Gypsy King” gave us info; but we also knew his competitors were giving information on him to other cops.

Personal or monetary gain is very often a reason to inform. It can be putting money in their pocket, sharing the recovered spoils, most often in drug cases, or just earning a few favors to be collected at a later date. Sometimes the favors were already owed.

Probably the biggest reason to become an informant is to work your way out of trouble. Narcs always try to flip an arrest so they can work their way upstream for bigger dealers and busts.

Sometimes, very, very seldom, an informant does it for love. You know, trying to “help” or “save” a lover. Some are even in “love” with the cop. Of course, there is always plain old sex. I had a female bartender that spent our ‘talking” time telling me how strip clubs were used to launder large sums of illegal money. Even gave me “family” names that used Honolulu bars. She traded me info for, well, me.

The worse is the professional snitch. Not to be confused with an undercover officer, the “pro” snitch is often planted in a cell with the accused, solicits info on the crime, and then used in support of warrants and trials. They are often supplied with info from the investigator and will report this is what they heard or what the defendant “confessed” to them as cell mates.

These people have sold their souls. I believe they do what they do to be in a place of power over their target.

I personally know of three cases, all with convictions based on the informant’s testimony that the informant and/or the investigators flat out lied. I can’t prove the lies in court but I can prove it to my satisfaction.

If you are advised of your right to remain silent, do so, always and forever, even when you think the other guy is your buddy. He isn’t.

For a long time, while working the downtown area, I got really good info from the “Mahus” working and walking the streets. Much more than most of the other cops I worked with. The reason was easy; I didn’t treat them as a lesser person.

Most cops treated the cross dressers or transgender like a lower life form. Remember this was in the 70’s. There was no political correctness. Some apartment buildings wouldn’t rent to gay couples or to cross dressers.

So I treated them with the same respect I did the other people. So when they saw a gun in a car or the “john” bragged too much about having pulled a job somewhere, I got told.

So there you are; why to be a snitch with a few ways to rationalize it.

Don’t tell anyone.

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