chapter  4
20 Pages

TEEN The Care and Feeding of Undercover Agents

WithNeil S. Hibler

An undercover law enforcement officer is summoned to speak with superiors because they believe he is exploiting his status and reveling in the freedom of the "other side of the street." This undermines mutual trust and leads to suspicions that jeopardize the continuing progress of the operation. In another case, undercover personnel request transfer from the program after an operation is administratively closed out after months of activity without promise of success. The operational officers are convinced that their careers are forever tainted. In yet another case, supervisors pressured an undercover (UC) to accelerate progress despite the absence of promising leads. The UC hangs out at an underworld den, becomes intoxicated, and tries to recruit a cocktail waitress as an informant. Unbeknownst to him, she is an informant for another law enforcement agency, reports what she believes is the impersonation of a law enforcement officer, and the UC is arrested. Even "successful" cases can bring surprises. Days before the trial of a major criminal indicted with evidence collected by an undercover, the operative says he feels badly about setting the subject up because he has come to know him and is sympathetic to the plight of the subject's family; he asks if he can be a character witness for the defense. In another example, after completing a sensitive 2-year undercover assignment, the operative returns to his squad room to find his peers have been promoted to other duties and the stranger who is well settled at (what used to be) his desk is irritated by the operative's questions about all the changes. Worse yet, new office requirements and procedures leave the operative ill prepared to competitively produce in the

routine duties that are used to judge his performance. The consequence is that the officer is unpromotable, effectively penalized for being undercover.