He looked like any other one. Just a person. No matter what a person looks like, you always give them an opportunity to give their side of the story, what they could offer up. Sometimes it’s bullshit. You can kind of tell where the bullshit is right off. You got some guys that will tell you they can do John Gotti.
A good informant knows the city—where the open-air markets are, who the players are, the old-time drug dealers, the new-time drug dealers. It’s a person that knows what you know.
He was very well aware of hot spots in the city that we were interested in. He’s never the type of guy that we did large cases with—the Colombians, the wiretapping. He’s information off the streets. There’s informants connected to large-scale operations, and then there’s the informants who know everything off the streets: the dope, the guns. He knew the streets. He knew the city.
He’s a good guy. The names he gave me, the information about what was happening out on the streets. He was telling me everything I knew. That’s the kind of person that can help you out.
You never get in sync with an informant. You have to be in control. Any person who works with the police, punctuality is what you have to get over first. And the bullshitting—telling us more than what they know. What you have to get [from] an informant is: Did you see what actually happened? I don’t want to know what you think. I want to know what you know.
He is the type of person that will say, “I don’t know.” He won’t get up and say, “Well, I heard” or “I think.” Pleasing you up front—he doesn’t do that.
We don’t have any informants that aren’t criminals. The more criminal activity they’ve been involved in their past, the more they know. The worst kind of informant that we could have is one that does things on his own—goes out on the street and touches drugs or hangs where they’re using drugs.
You can’t come up bad once. If you do, you’re finished. The key to the whole thing is that you have to be honest. You don’t violate the law. We’re limited on what we can do.
I think he actually likes being one. The way he talks about it. He has no regrets about getting criminals off the street. He’s good. He’s reliable. You keep that reliability over the years —that’s stand-up.
His specialty is being able to move about anywhere in the city. That’s what made him survive so many years. One thing about him—he’s been around so long, there’s always somebody to vouch for him in the areas. He’s not street-dumb.
He’s very good at talking his way out. He’s had a few times where he told me it got a little hairy in there.
He’s done so many, so many search warrants over the years, so many rips where the guy is standing on the corner with drugs or a gun. He’s probably done a couple hundred warrants. Easily.
We’ve been concerned about his physical problems over the years. He’s been on that methadone forever. He swears he’s not on drugs. We had some strong feelings he’s fallen off the wagon a few times. What did we do? Cut him back.
I think he would be doing the rest of his life in prison if he didn’t hook up with us. Did we solve his problems? No.
We pay him. He does all right. He complains all the time like any other employee. All employees complain. Not enough work. Not enough time. We’re not here to drum up business. There’s nothing set everyday.
You just tell him, “Hey, chill.”
He ain’t getting rich with us. But he does OK. He survives. He always says he doesn’t, but he does.
I’m nervous for him every day. He’ll go out there any day, and he could get killed. If anybody thinks you got a couple dollars or think you’re snitching. I don’t know how many people were thought to be killed because they were a snitch and didn’t come close to [snitching].
I always told him that safety is the No. 1 issue. You work it where they feel safe. You got to make them feel safe. We as the police have to take every precaution. We can’t for our own benefit put this guy or this girl in jeopardy.
He’s come to me and said, “I might be hot in that neighborhood.” I say stay away. Or sometimes, he said he felt uncomfortable. Sometimes you have to tell him it’s not the end of the world to not go into a neighborhood. We just tell him don’t do it. We always look for the feeling of the person working out on the street.
I’ve had him tell me this guy isn’t going to make it as an undercover. This guy has no heart. He was right. I sometimes get a little irritated when they don’t listen to him. He’s out there, he knows the game, the lingo, the dress, what to ask for when you’re buying drugs, how to react when you’re buying drugs.
Once, we locked up a guy with his help. It was a good case, a federal court case. The guy turned out to be an informant himself.
He knows who snitches out on the streets. Just like there are guys who know he snitches. But there’s nobody coming after him. There’s respect out on the streets. Sometimes you got to tell.