Informants play a critical role in the criminal justice system
April 29, 2017
While the criminal justice system is typically viewed as a three-tiered system including law enforcement, prosecution, and judges, we often forget that informants play a crucial role.
An informant is defined as someone who has knowledge of illicit activities who works with the police by providing that information to police in order to build cases against criminal defendants.
Informants may also work with narcotics investigation teams in sting operations where they pose as a buyer to help take down a drug dealer.
The role played by informants is very dangerous and being labeled a “snitch” is the last thing anyone wants as most informants are involved in criminal activity themselves.
For instance, a person may be found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia or narcotics. Law enforcement will often question these individuals to see where they purchased the narcotics or find out if they know anything else about illegal activities.
If they agree to work with police, charges are often dismissed or reduced in exchange for their cooperation to take down someone higher up the food chain.
Naturally, this cooperation with law enforcement is seen as a bad thing by other criminals and often results in physical threats to the informant.
However, without this constant flow of information, many crimes being committed here within the borders of Hillsdale County would go unanswered for.
Over the past 18-months as your crime reporter, I have come to understand how much of a vital role informants play in the criminal justice system as I have sat and watched several informants testify in open court, despite fears for their safety.
Edmund Burke once said, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Burke’s wise words are very fitting even in this day and age.
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