New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project: Confidential Informants
I was curious to see how often New Jersey municipal police departments use "confidential informants" and how much those informants are compensated. So, I requested the following records from the South Plainfield Police Department (Middlesex County):
Copy of the "Confidential Informant Report File" for the year 2009 showing the "confidential informant number" and "monies dispersed." I recognize that the informants' names and addresses must be redacted. For clarification, the reports I seek are required to be kept by Records Series 0017-0000 within Records Retention and Disposition Schedule No. M900000-004 (Municipal Police Departments) issued by the New Jersey Division of Archives and Records (www.njarchives.org).
While I expecting resistance, South Plainfield responded with the requested record, which I put on-line here.
According to the record received, South Plainfield Police paid about $1,200, spread over thirteen transactions, to confidential informants during 2009. In order to follow up a bit more, I submitted the following OPRA request to South Plainfield today:
Your police department recently sent me a redacted "Confidential Informant Report File" for the year 2009. Most payments are made to confidential informants that are identified by number, such as "CI# 74" or "CI# 76." Yet, some entries, including one made on May 28, 2009, shows a $400 payment to a Confidential Informant referred to as "Det." Does this mean the Confidential Informant is a police detective? If so, I would question the propriety of paying a police detective, other than his or her regular salary, for information that leads to detection of criminal offenses. I appreciate the sensitive nature of my inquiry, but I believe that the purpose of keeping Confidential Informants' identities confidential extends only to individuals who are not employed by law enforcement.
1. Another copy of the same 2-page record previously provided, but with the name of each person identified as "Det" disclosed. (In lieu of responding, and although I recognize OPRA does not require you to answer my questions, I would appreciate it if you tell me, in general terms, what the "Det" entries mean. Perhaps there is a good reason that their names need to be kept confidential that I haven't thought about.)
2. All CDR-1 forms, CDR-2 forms or other forms of complaint that were issued as a result of the tip that the Police Department paid $400 for on May 18, 2009. (I note that most of the payments are for $20 to $60, and I presume that these were for tips that led to street level drug dealers. I'm interested in learning whether the $400 payment, which is much more than the other payments made, resulted in charges being brought against a higher level dealer or kingpin.)
I will keep this list informed of South Plainfield's response. Also, I have included the exact text of my requests in case readers wish to make similar requests to other police departments around the state.
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