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Undercover Stress

In: Social Issues

Submitted By tabathakdavis
Words 1342
Pages 6
Tabatha K. Davis
Undercover Stress
Date: April 10th, 2012
Instructor: David Makin

Undercover Stress
When working in law enforcement and undercover policing there may be a wide variety of issues that come up and have to be dealt with. To gather information about ongoing and future criminal activity as well as disrupt these activities and arrest those involved, law enforcement agencies often use undercover employees. Over the years UCEs have worked to combat organized prostitution rings, the manufacture and distribution of drugs, street gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) and extremist groups on both the political left and right including the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, skinheads, and militant separatist groups. Undercover assignments include short-term drug "buy and bust" stings that last for no more than a few hours to deep cover, long-term investigations that keep UCEs in the field for months or years. (Fitzgerald, P. n.d.)
There are massive amounts of stress to overcome during undercover work. As the UCE forms relationships with those he or she is investigating, feelings of ambivalence and guilt may ensue. UCEs may find themselves witnessing offenses committed by members of criminal organizations, a scenario that can trigger a serious moral dilemma. Should they attempt to intervene and stop the crime, or remain passive and protect their undercover identity? Another sensitive moral issue is that of UCEs having sexual relations (to gain information) with individuals they are investigating. Should there be limits as to what UCEs can and cannot do, to and with both criminals and noncriminal in the course of their work? Psychologist Gary Farkus discovered a relationship between psychological symptoms and undercover work, including anxiety, loneliness, isolation, relationship problems and extreme suspiciousness. (Fitzgerald, P. n.d.)
I have selected this research topic because it is important, not only for future individuals who go undercover but the families as well. How common is it for undercover officers to seek assistance from the police counselor? This specific question is the focus of the paper, all the information is formed around this question. We find what they are going through and looking into the counseling services to see how they can help. Mixed research is research in which quantitative and qualitative techniques are mixed in a single study. It is the third major research paradigm, adding an attractive alternative to quantitative and qualitative research. This I think would be the best use of research for this study. This means not only numbers are being looked at but pictures can be used in the study as well. There is also the capability the find and test a ground theory.
Annotated Bibliography’s
Hattenstone, S (March 25th, 2011) Mark Kennedy: Confessions of an undercover cop, Retrieved 4/9/2012 from

Kennedy was an undercover police officer who spent seven years infiltrating a group of environmental activists under the alias Mark Stone. In the end Kennedy had nowhere left to go, he had betrayed both sides and burned all of his bridges, he began to not sleep or eat and was scared to death. Kennedy fled to American fearing people were out to get him and even admitted to being suicidal. This article will help tremendously is documenting information on undercover police and their lives in and out of work, how the stress is either dealt with or if it gets the best of them. It is very specific in detail about what Kennedy had encountered and will be an excellent resource, mainly because it is firsthand what had happened.

Donovan E.C. (1979) Police Stress, POLICE STRESS Volume: 1 Issue: 3 Dated :( FALL 1979) Pages: COMPLETE ISSUE, Retrieved 4/9/2012 from

The goal of this article is to communicate what is going on with police officers about how to deal with stress. Senator Edward Kennedy speaks about the use of specific drugs that can be used in the treatment process. It speaks about living with terror while on and off the job and how to cope with the maintenance of keeping one’s self healthy in body and mind. This not only speaks of the stress for the officer who is undercover but also helps the spouse of that officer cope as well. It gives insight into what can be done and what is offered for the officers to take if they want to get better and be able to cope with what either is going on or happening.

American Psychological Association (2012) Symptoms of Undercover Police Officers, Retrieved 4/9/2012 from

A cross study was completed with current undercover workers with former undercover police officers and with police officers who have never done any type of undercover work before. It had found that the police officers that had been currently working undercover had as many as 15 clinical symptoms, which either caused them to be treated or asked to be treated. This can provide the information needed of what assessment the officer may have been on. As well as what was going on around them to impact the stressors before and after the fact.

Marx G.T. (2012) Who Really Gets Stung? Some Issues Raised by the New Police Undercover Work, Retrieved 4/9/2012 from

Even though there has been an upbeat feel for undercover work some people do not look at the fact that it does contain illegal work with unethical decisions being made by the undercover police officer who affects his/her life. There is not enough attention to the fact of negatives that go along with this work, the public is shut out of the risk factors. Undercover police officers always have to be on guard to not unintentionally exploit themselves which could result in death. This not only looks into the negative but the positive as well and shows what may lead certain events to happen and what could be done about them with the right information.

Jacobs B. A. (2012) Undercover Deception, Retrieved 4/9/2012 from

Jacobs created an article to look at and address the deception strategies which are highly used by undercover narcotics agents. He goes through the steps of rehearsal, appearance manipulation, verbal diversion and physical diversion all of these have to perfect in order for an undercover agent to be believable. When all of this in completed the agent has to be careful not to only pull it off but not to lose themselves in the process of everything. Data was drawn in order to compare results from 35 current and former agents to see how they coped with the deception in front of people and while alone.

No Author (April 28th, 2011) Occupational Stress of Policing, Retrieved 4/9/2012 from

With long intervals spent away from actual family and friends could lead to massive amounts of stress to add on top of the stress from being undercover and could possibly affect the mission or target. Moreover, undercover operation is a critical aspect of gathering evidence to prosecute serious crimes through the skillful infiltration of criminal groups by specially trained officers. In order for a successful gain the officer must utilize a psychologist and maintain steady contact with them even if it is over the phone. This shows the use of help and the affects that result in keeping in contact with someone in the real world. Preventing a undercover officer from going to deep is key if any information is going to be helpful.


Fitzgerald, P. (n.d.) Undercover Officers at the Honolulu Police Department, Retrieved 4/9/2012 from
Alabama Education (n.d.) Mixed Research, Retrieved 4/9/2012 from…...

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