The Los Angeles Police Department will ease restrictions on use of confidential informants, the Los Angeles Times reports. For the first time since the city signed a federal consent decree in 2001, some uniformed gang officers may cultivate confidential street sources. The officers must adhere to strict guidelines and close supervision during a six-month pilot program. Since the Rampart police scandal, only undercover gang detectives and their supervisors have been allowed to develop informants. The scandal included the use of street sources to frame suspects, fabricate cases and cover up for police shootings.
LAPD officials contend that expanding the pool of gang officers with street intelligence will help them penetrate violent street gangs. Civil libertarians, however, said there was potential for abuse. “It’s easier if you have a small number of people to oversee,” said Ricardo Garcia of the American Civil Liberties Union of Los Angeles. “The more informants you use, the greater the chance that you will not be able to comply with the specific requirements of the consent decree.”