Undercover Investigation in Law Enforcement Agencies

As defined by Dempsey and Forst (2010), the undercover investigation involves an operation where an investigator assumes a different identity to obtain information or achieve the purpose of the investigation. During an undercover operation, the investigator plays the role of another person and may do several things or perform certain acts to trigger a reaction from the targets. The investigator must also ensure that the targets do not detect his /her real identity. Usually, law enforcement agencies utilize undercover investigations for various reasons. Besides, it is also important to note that undercover officers also face different challenges/problems when working in this type of environment.

Why law enforcement agencies utilize undercover investigations

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Ideally, within the law enforcement agencies, there are several types of undercover investigations such as police, federal, and private security undercover investigation. According to Dempsey and Forst (2010), under police undercover investigations, law enforcers use the strategy in drug undercover investigations, stings such as operations that involve the buying and selling of stolen goods or contrabands. Other areas police undercover investigations are used include decoy operations targeting crimes of burglary, assault, or robbery, in anti-prostitution operations, to infiltrate and arrest individuals engaging in organized crime, and to bust and arrest corrupt individuals. In federal undercover investigations, law enforcement agencies use these operations to detect and arrest individuals involved in insurance fraud, political corruption, and other forms of organized conspiracies. Additionally, undercover investigations are used in drug enforcement and play a vital law in busting drug syndicates and drug trafficking organizations, arresting drug trafficking, and protecting society against drug-related problems. To accomplish this, law enforcement agencies infiltrate the drug trafficking organization that sell large amounts of drugs to obtain evidence.

Problems Undercover Officers Face Working in this Type of Environment

Usually, when working as an undercover, these officers are expected to take a role different from their usual self. They are required to change their lifestyle to fit in the circle, which might lead to socialization problems. Mostly, these officers receive little training and supervision in their roles, which has been attributed to weakened bonds with their colleagues, families, and friends. Some become deviant, break the law, and sometimes end their career. Additionally, when going undercover for drug investigations, the investigations can be lengthy and dangerous to undercover investigators, especially in case their cover is blown. 

 Undercover investigations play an important role in the criminal justice system. Law enforcement agencies use these operations for a myriad of reasons such as to catch criminals, in insurance fraud, drug enforcement, and political corruption among others. Apart from the benefits, these operations are associated with several challenges that pose problems to law enforcers.

ReferencesDempsey, J. S., & Forst, L. S. (2010). An introduction to policing. Australia: Delma Cengage Learning.

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