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Decision Making Processes of Informant Handlers

Larry W Golba, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

While our military and other human intelligence assets continue to defend our nation and others against the threat of terrorist attacks abroad, law enforcement and private security professional are on the front lines of domestic efforts to stop would-be terror plots from endangering the citizenry at home. Through the conduct of their everyday duties, these professionals must balance many factors while making decisions regarding the potential risks and gains of each particular action. Often, these decisions involve the use of human sources of information, or informants, who have access to the information these professionals require to protect the peace. ^ Decision making theory has been widely studied in many areas, however, even in law enforcement contexts little study has been done on the use of informants and the methods by which the officers and other professionals utilize them. Studying how these individuals make decisions, many of which can be literally life-or-death decisions, is highly important to ensure that they are being made using the best practices available. The violence risk and safety related decisions made by these individuals have direct impacts on themselves, the informants, their organization and the public. Determining the most salient aspects of their decision making processes is paramount to understanding and refining safety related decision making in operational contexts. ^ This study analyzes a number of dimensions of these practitioners' duties, including training, experience, informant characteristics, information quality, and personal risk tolerance and detecting deception. The analysis is focused on identifying preliminary indicators of the most important aspects which the professionals use in order to make decisions, especially regarding safety and information gathering. Differences between active law enforcement and other security professionals emerged across a number of domains. Notably, experience was not as strong of a predictor in this study as previous research had indicated. Results, implications, potential areas for extension and future research are also discussed.^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Golba, Larry W, "Decision Making Processes of Informant Handlers" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3589760.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3589760

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