But for all the statutory enhancements, the anti-Mafia
crusade was still going to be won or lost in the streets, and the best tool FBI agents possessed on that front was the criminal informant. "The way you solve crime, 99 percent of it is when people tell
you what happened," John Connolly once explained in a Boston radio interview. "I mean, every director of the FBI has said that informants are our most important resource".
"Without informants, we're nothing," Clarence M. Kelley said after being named the new FBI director following J. Edgar Hoover's death in 1972. The reason is simple: the police cannot be everywhere,
and when investigators look to solve crimes they do not possess unchecked power to search and interrogate suspects and citizens.
In a bid to fill in intelligence gaps, a police agency finds that informants are the essential tool - the eyes and ears of the police. Police reliance on informants developed as a partial solution to limitations on police power in the United States."
Dick Lehr & Gerard O'Neill, Black Mass, The Irish Mob, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal. Chapter 4, pp. 44-45. Excerpt reprinted by permission of Public Affairs, 250 West 57th Street, New York,
N.Y. 10107 (a member of the Perseus Books Group)
Copyright © 2000 by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill. All rights reserved.