Undercover officers are specially trained personnel in the police department who investigate criminal gangs and organizations not susceptible to other investigative techniques. They use their investigative skills and experiences to identify and penetrate into the gangs. Such operatives must however prove to be good law enforcement officers with excellent investigative skills and experiences. Undercover officers receive an on-the-job training which helps them to relate well with the criminal gangs. Knowledge on how to identify criminal groups, criminal terminologies and criminal transaction prices are usually availed to them in advance. They create their own cover stories which help them to suit well in their tasks. They appears as an acquaintances, boyfriends or girlfriends to the criminal suspects who later gives important leads to their criminal activities (Albanese, 2010). Undercover officers however work closely with other police officers who offer them protection and safety during their operations.
Some of the key advantages of undercover officer are to help the police managers in identifying and arrest the law breakers who would otherwise not be caught through ordinary patrols. Since the modern criminal gangs are sufficiently equipped to avoid being caught by the law enforcers, there is a dire need of using undercover officers in tracking them down. The law enforcement managers are therefore required to specifically train some of their subordinate police to handle such groups. Undercover officers also assist the investigative body to gather some important information of the criminal organization that would otherwise go unnoticed. Through the prediction of the criminal pattern, undercover officers are able to assist the law enforcers to stop crime before it happens. For instance they assist the law enforcers to identify the criminal activity and patterns making it easy to trail and arrest such gangs (Albanese, 2010).
However there are various disadvantages of being an undercover officer, among them includes the high risk involved in the task. They may face both physical and emotional attacks from the gang if identified as police during the task. In extreme cases they may be killed by the criminal perpetrators, especially when the back-up troops fail to offer protection. The close association with the criminal organizations can slowly corrupt the integrity of the undercover officers making them addicted to such tasks. It is therefore very important for the law enforcement departments to regularly check and maintain integrity in their police force. Such regular checks can assist in salvaging their usefulness in the regular police force (Stevens, 2008).
Due to the involving nature of work, undercover officers may face greater risk of succumbing into illegal consumption of drugs and other harmful products. This is because at times they may not be able to decline illegal consumptions while undertaking their duties. Such consumptions may cause addictions and other neurological changes in their bodies.
At times the law enforcement managers may risk losing some important personnel from the force especially when the undercover officers feel there is too much for them to handle. Their one-on-one association with the criminal organization makes them evaluate the potential risks of being in the police force and decide on ending their undercover assignments. However the law enforcement managers avoid this by scheduling some regular debriefing to help them adjust and improve after an undercover assignment.