A Florida police department says one of its own lost a confidential list of the department's drug informants when a lieutenant misplaced a flash drive, MyFoxOrlando.com reported.
Drug informants trusted Altamonte Springs Police to protect them after giving up sensitive information. Now, some drug informants might wonder why they helped.
The Police Department — aware that the misplaced flash drive could endanger people who trusted law enforcement — issued the following statement: "We are aware of this information and are currently looking into the matter."
Sources say the lieutenant transferred the informants list from his work computer at police headquarters to a flash drive to take it home. He then left the drive on top of his car or on his bumper, and it fell off while he drove away.
Altamonte resident Akasha Coutur calls this sloppy police work for such an important list. "Losing your math homework is not that big of a deal, but that is putting peoples lives on the line almost," she was quoted by MyFoxOrlando.com.
Police are not saying if anyone picked up the flash drive or how many names or cases it contains. Some say the mistake could make informants less likely to help, fearing retaliation on the streets.
"If they don't have informants, they can't find out any information about the drugs, so that just means the dealers and everybody are going to run rampant," says local resident Jules Silvers.
The police chief will have to decide if the mistake leads to an internal investigation.
Silvers says the mistake could cause informants to clam up. "People are going to be afraid to come out and speak and talk about things if they have to sit up and wonder if their information is going to get lost and someone's going to find them, and now they don't know if somebody's looking for them."
As of Monday night, the police department's public information officer and the city's mayor had not returned our phone calls requesting more information on the story.
MyFoxOrlando.com knows the name of the Lieutenant in question, but won't reveal it because he is undercover. We are told he is well liked and is ready to retire soon.