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Pros/Cons Of Under Cover Police Work

1705 words - 7 pages

Police officers can be assigned to numerous lines of work within an police department. A wide range of law enforcement duties generally require the officer to wear a uniform, representing his or her status as enforcer of laws, preventer of crime, and preserver of domestic peace. However, there is one controversial line of law enforcement that restricts the use of police a uniform. Undercover police work entails the practice of remaining in disguise during investigations of criminal activity. A police officer may assume a different identity acting as an undercover agent, as a method for gaining valuable information or evidence. Undercover work is by far the most dangerous and controversial ...view middle of the document...

[3] By the middle of the 20th century, many state and federal agencies began to enact their own undercover programs and strategies to strengthen their intelligence and fact-finding techniques.

The rationale behind not wearing a uniform facilitates the gathering of information about current and future criminal activity. Undercover police work shares similarities with other intelligence gathering functions such as eavesdropping, surveillance, espionage, and the use of informants to obtain information. An officer assumes an undercover identity for a defined and considerable amount of time. This requires total secrecy because this dangerous line of work allows the police department to examine and report criminal activity in areas that foster drug trade, organized crime, prostitution rings, street gangs, and political extremist groups.
The objective of an undercover officer is to make a case; they must gather sufficient information and evidence in order to have a successful prosecution in court. Undercover work is necessary because highly intelligent criminals do exist and are and difficult to arrest. The purpose is not only to obtain evidence of criminal intent and the individuals involved but to obtain physical evidence as well. The officer then seeks an arrest warrant; once the offender is arrested, the identity of the undercover cop is usually revealed. After an undercover operation, it is likely that many more arrests will occur due to the large number of contacts that the police officer made while undercover, maximizing the extent of their contacts and informants.
Selecting police officers to go undercover is a complicated task and requires comprehensive analysis and consideration of the potential undercover agents. Very few are chosen because of the difficult, stressful, and risky characteristics of undercover work. There are very few individuals who are mentally stable enough to cope with this line of work, let alone very few who fit the physical characteristics necessary for undercover work to occur without risk. Young, ethnic or multi-lingual rookie cops are ideal candidates for undercover work because of their physical attributes and inexperience suggest they are ordinary civilians; this notion is the basis for undercover work since agents to do not want to provoke suspicion by suspects or potential offenders.

As mentioned, an undercover officer is new to the department and supervisors generally chose them for the job because of the way they appear. Potential officers in the police academy may be identified for undercover work but are generally required to serve one or two years of regular police duty. Training procedures of an undercover officer is conducted through physical training and hands-on instructions that include seminars to educate undercover agents how to identify drugs and contraband while understanding the language, culture, and terminology of the unlawful environment they will...

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