(Tampa Bay Online) TAMPA – Known as Rachel’s Law in honor of slain police informant Rachel Hoffman, legislation about the use and control of confidential informants goes into effect Wednesday.
In Hillsborough County, supervisors whose detectives and deputies handle confidential informants will attend an eight-hour training seminar about the law Wednesday.
The new law will require police departments to train officers who recruit confidential informants, tell informants they can’t promise a reduced sentences in exchange for their work and allow informants to consult with a lawyer if they ask.
Hoffman’s parents had wanted even stronger language in the bill, including barring police departments from using people in substance-abuse programs as drug informants and those who are nonviolent in work involving suspects with violent histories. Both provisions would have excluded Hoffman — a nonviolent offender in treatment — from the undercover operation she participated in.
Police departments opposed those provisions, saying investigators need flexibility to make judgments on a case-by-case basis. Hoffman’s parents said they will return to the Legislature to ask for even tougher provisions.
Translation: the new law will force cops to tell snitches they can’t promise reduced sentences, which is something cops could never promise anyway, but would slyly avoid saying as they made every hint and implication that they could promise a reduced sentence. The new law will give snitches the right to speak to an attorney, which they already had. The new law won’t stop cops from using people in drug rehab as snitches, because most of the people who could be leveraged into becoming a snitch are low-level non-violent offenders who’d likely be sentenced to drug rehab. And the new law won’t stop cops from using non-violent offenders as snitches against violent predators, because again, cops don’t have much leverage against the violent offenders.
In other words, aside from possibly having to say “We cannot guarantee you a reduced sentence and you may wish to speak to an attorney” before they frighten and intimidate the next Rachel Hoffman into becoming a snitch, it’s business as usual in Florida.