chapter  11
42 Pages

Informants

An informant is an individual who covertly provides accurate information to a law

enforcement agency on a continuing basis. Law enforcement agencies use a variety of

terms to refer to informants. Among these descriptors are “sources,” “contacts,” and

“assets.” The most common term used by street police officers seems to be “CI,” which

usually stands for “criminal informant,” or possibly “confidential informant.” Often the

media, citizens, criminals, and even some investigators apply uncomplimentary slang

terms when referring to informants, including “stoolie,” “stool pigeon,” “squealer,”

“snitch,” “rat,” “fink,” and “turncoat.” Some agencies have specific titles for informants

who provide coverage on particular criminal specialties. These might include “top ech-

elon organized crime informant,” “gang informer,” or “narcotics source.” Some agencies

have separate categories for informants based on the way they develop information. For

example, a person who provides coverage to a subject’s residence or employment might

be called a “neighborhood source” or an “employment source,” respectively. A person

who develops information of value on a variety of subjects through the course of his

employment might be known as an “established source” or “business source.”