New Florida Law Protects Informants

The murder of a young Florida woman acting as an informant in a drug case has led to legislation protecting confidential informants, the Tampa Tribune reported June 30.

The new Rachel’s Law was named for Rachel Hoffman, a 23-year-old who was shot to death — allegedly by a pair of drug dealers — after being sent undercover by the Tallahassee police to complete a drug deal while monitored by detectives.

Police supervisors will be required to attend an eight-hour training session on the new law, which in turn stipulates training of officers who recruit informants, requires police to tell informants that they can’t promise a reduced sentence in exchange for cooperation, and mandates that informants be allowed to consult with a lawyer if they request one.

Hoffman’s parents pushed for the law, which was signed by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in May. “Being a confidential informant is, obviously, a very dangerous, challenging thing to do. It takes courage to do it,” said Crist, who said the law “makes it more safe for people to be able to cooperate with law enforcement officials across our state.”

“We hope that it will save a lot of other people through the years,” said Hoffman’s father, Irv. However, the law did not include proposed provisions barring the use of nonviolent offenders or participants in addiction treatment programs from being used as informants — both of which would have excluded Rachel Hoffman.

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