Concerned with Street Source Tactic
I recently read Chuck Remsberg's Tactics column titled "Street Sources, Part One" (November/December, p. 32), and I'm very concerned with what he wrote in the last paragraph, in which he and Pat McCarthy describe "the violation ploy," a technique a street officer can use to get information out of a gangbanger who's on probation or parole. Basically, the article says the officer should tell the gangbanger his parole or probation officer is getting ready to violate him, but the officer might be able to help him out in exchange for some information.
As a senior probation and parole officer, I must inform you that one of the most dangerous parts of our job is when we have contact with a felon who fears going to jail on a violation. As a victim of an attack from a felon I was going to arrest, I can tell you it's a serious issue to tell a felon he's going to be violated when in fact he is not. Imagine if I were to pay a visit to one of my gangbangers to see how he's doing and I'm killed because a police officer told him I was getting ready to violate him. It would be like me telling a dangerous felon he will be sent to prison for five years if he ever gets another speeding ticket. I wouldn't want to be the next officer to stop that car. Please, look at us as a valuable part of the fight against crime.
Senior probation/parole agent
Pat McCarthy responds:
Senior Probation/Parole Agent Campbell, quite frankly, is being overly dramatic about police officers using this valuable technique to get important information from the street that could save a law enforcement officer's life, help locate a kidnapped child, take a child molester off the street, stop a violent robbery crew before they shoot another innocent store clerk, etc. I could go on and on with similar examples that clearly illustrate the necessity of good, aggressive police work.
If the stats on parolees are correct, the vast majority of them do things every day that could get them violated. Every parolee out there should be considered possibly armed and extremely dangerous. Campbell has a very dangerous job tracking violent offenders who have already proved to society that they are bad people, but the analogy of the felon and the speeding ticket is a real stretch. Innocent lives are lost every day in big cities and small towns all across this country. How many lives could be saved every year with information gleaned from this valuable street source, a parolee with inside street information?