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Citizen Informant FAQ
Citizen Informant FAQ
Q: What exactly is a citizen informant?
A "citizen" informant is generally a victim or an eyewitness to a crime or someone who gives information to the police out of motives of good citizenship or under other circumstances that do not cast doubt upon its truthfulness. (Text quoted from the California Legal Source Book and case law). Most informants will fall under this definition.
Q: I have information about a crime that is occurring or has occurred and I want to report it, but I am afraid of retaliation. Don't the police need my name so I can be called to testify in court?
A: No. You may report the offense over the phone or in person without giving us your name. We will use the information you provide to conduct an investigation and make a strong effort to appropriately resolve the issue. When remaining anonymous, there is a good chance we will only have one opportunity to speak with you. Please have as much information as possible about the crime you are reporting including the descriptions of the suspects, any involved vehicles or anything unique that our deputies should look for. Please note that to protect innocent people from false arrest, we incorporate a variety of investigative techniques to responsibly corroborate all information we receive from anonymous sources.
Q: My neighbor is a gang member and I have anonymously reported suspicious activity several times to my local Sheriff's station. The deputies aren't able to arrive in time to witness any crimes in progress and I am too scared to reveal myself. What should I do now?
A: Patrol units have many areas of responsibility and cannot always give a problem the attention it deserves. You should call your local Sheriff's Station and ask to speak with a gang detective from the Operation Safe Streets Bureau. Sometimes an ongoing gang-related problem requires a directed enforcement effort by personnel with special training and expertise. We will appreciate your concern for anonymity and work with you to eliminate the problem. Most importantly don't stop calling us to anonymously report crime. Even if no arrests are made, our presence can help discourage further activity and every call you make is a step in the right direction.
Q: I don't live in an area patrolled by the sheriff's department. Can I still provide information about the crimes that are happening on my street.
A: Yes, with an explanation. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department works closely with all of our neighboring police departments. If you think that a crime occurring in your neighborhood has a direct connection to crime in the sheriff's jurisdiction, we want you to call us. Our operator will assess the information you have and provide you with the proper advice. If appropriate, we will contact another police department for you. Your call could be a key to preventing or solving a crime.
Q: I have heard that the police sometimes pay informants for the information they provide. Can I get money for my information?
A: Probably not. Outside of a public reward offer for information leading to the arrest of a wanted suspect, paid police informants reside at a different legal level than a "citizen informant" who is only providing information out of motives of good citizenship. Your reward is the satisfaction of knowing that you helped to prevent or solve a crime based on a sense of right and wrong.
Q: A family member I live with is involved in criminal activity. I feel like the only way I can get them help or to make them stop is to have them arrested. How can I anonymously report crime that is happening inside my own home without being arrested myself?
A: This is a difficult situation that is probably best handled with the help of our station detectives. You should call your local sheriff's station and ask to speak with the detective sergeant who specializes in the type of crime you are reporting. Discuss with the sergeant your desire to remain anonymous. We understand your need to remain anonymous for your own safety and to maintain family bonds. There are a variety of laws and investigative techniques that can be used to protect your identity. Remember, you can always call and discuss the situation before providing your name and address. The important thing is that you make that call. You could be the one who prevents your loved one from future harm by taking appropriate steps now to stop their harmful activity .
Q: I'm sorry, but I just don't feel comfortable talking to the police and I have information that could solve a crime. What are my alternatives?
A: We understand that many people are nervous about contacting the police for a variety of reasons. You may still anonymously report a crime tip to the Los Angeles area CRIME STOPPERS at 1-800-222-8477 or by logging on to http://lacrimestoppers.com/.
Captain Eli Vera
South Los Angeles Sheriff's Station
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
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