The Use Of Police Informants During The 60s & 70s

A reader recently posted a comment concerning police tactics with the use of informants, or snitches. By no coincidence, I am writing a chapter for the book about the use of informants. In the Wonderland story we have two!  David Lind and John Holmes. Now, vice cops have no way into the drug dealing world, unless they bust some low-level user or dealer, maybe a delivery guy. We’ve all seen the TV shows. But in my research, I have found several cases from the 60s and 70s from the Northern California area that show airman from nearby Air Force bases dealing in, or being suspected of dealing in drugs. In 1968, this was right in Ron’s stomping ground. Drugs were everywhere.

An informant is usually corralled by first getting caught with drugs. Rather than face some jail-time, and if approached, they will often agree to cooperate with authorities. The info they give cops may or may not be good intel. The War on Drugs is a real bitch and just because some informant tells a vice cop that there is weed at someone’s house – well that does not mean it is true.

This quote is from a drug case in 1968, where an informant – who may have needed to score some brownie points with his detective – is caught in the middle. I wonder who these four airman were?

The challenged affidavit was prepared by Detective Roy D. Whiteaker of the Yuba City Police Department, largely on information furnished by a police informant, James Ronald Brooks. Brooks contacted Detective Whiteaker on March 16, 1968, and told him that certain parties residing in an apartment house at 357 Ainsley Avenue were planning to transport two kilograms of marijuana from San Francisco to their apartment, at about 3 o’clock that afternoon. The informer, at Whiteaker’s direction, then went to the Ainsley Avenue apartment house to obtain more information if possible. Later, Brooks told the detective that upon his arrival at the apartment house he was invited into an apartment belonging to four airmen from Beale Air Force Base. One of the airmen was under the influence of narcotics; his eyes were glazed and dilated. After a few minutes, two airmen went to appellant’s apartment next door and returned with appellant. Appellant asked what Brooks wanted, and Brooks answered “grass.” Appellant looked at an airman named Vern and said, “I don’t want to,” and returned to his apartment alone. Brooks stated that appellant was also under the influence of narcotics, and that Vern had referred to him as an “acid freak.”

The affidavit alleged that the Office of Special Investigation at Beale Air Force Base informed Detective Sergeant Smith that one of the suspect airmen had told a fellow serviceman that he had taken $100 from his bank account to buy part of two kilograms of marijuana. The affidavit also alleged that appellant had been convicted of a narcotics offense and that the Sutter County sheriff’s office had received confidential information that he was again using narcotics.

The End.