Undercover (UC) assignments are among the most stressful faced by law enforcement officers. Undercover work features isolation from colleagues and family, the necessity to adopt behaviors and false personal characteristics frequently opposite to the given officer’s beliefs and personality, and negative attention from members of the public and even from fellow officers while in the undercover role. Because of all of these factors, undercover work is frequently associated with problems in mental and physical health, and with difficulties in post-assignment social adjustment with family, community, and department. Undercover work is inherently difficult to research, but as the present review indicates, there is significant overlap between the symptomatology typical of undercover work and of that typical of non-UC police work, normally an area of greater research accessibility. These issues will be addressed below. In addition, this review identifies current best psychological practices in dealing with the undercover officer client; these include reliable, supportive, frequent contact with officer clients, psychoeducation in the areas of coping mechanisms, reframing of undercover work in terms of the overall corpus of the given officer’s career, and mechanisms of reintegration of the undercover officer into the realm of more typical, and frequently more mundane, regular police duties.
Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 12, 2016
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