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Safety Concerns Raised About Undercover Informants in Florida

August 4th, 2008 by flanews

A Grand Jury is now saying Tallahassee police dropped the ball in supervising a 23 year-old confidential informant who wound up dead. A powerful state lawmaker has filed a claims bill in the case, and as Whitney Ray tells us, the Grand Jury report pointed to the lack of a statewide policy.

Hear it Here: Safety Concerns Raised About Undercover Informants in Florida

Rachel Hoffmans life was cut short. After being busted for pot, the 23 year-old agreed to go undercover to avoid jail. She was killed in May while working as a confidential informant for Tallahassee police. Johnny Devine was Rachels attorney. Hes outraged Rachel was used in a sting operation.

Because she smoked some pot and sold some to her friends, that does not make her at the level they put her in, dealing with cocaine, 1,500 pills of ecstasy, and a handgun, said Devine.

The case raises concerns about how law enforcement recruits, trains, and protects the people they put in dangerous situations. There are no statewide regulations for handling confidential informants.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement declined to comment on the lack of regulation. In fact every statewide law enforcement agency we spoke with refused to talk about the issue on camera. Devine says Rachels death has opened a can of worms.

Theres no training, theres no physiological evaluation about how theyll react in these situations, Devine said.

Governor Charlie Crist said he wants input from police.

Theres a lot of things we could learn from this tragedy and I think one of them is some statewide standards that are deemed appropriate with input from law enforcement would be a good idea, said Crist.

Rachels parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Despite the lack of a statewide policy, there are some guidelines for handling confidential informants for law enforcement agency seeking state and national accreditation. The Tallahassee Police Department is accredited nationally.

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