Impact of the Stressors of Undercover Operations

The present paper has three purposes: (a) to discuss undercover operatives and the stressors inherent to undercover businesses based on literature review, (b) to summarize the proposed research study, (c) also to examine the expecting findings, conclusions, constraints and relevance for insurance plan and practice of the suggested research project.

Keywords: undercover official, police force, stress, personality test

It is nearly impossible to carefully turn on the news headlines or to watch leading time television without a mention of a takedown or a primary character on the sitcom who is an undercover operative. Modern culture is fascinated and romanticizes undercover operatives. These operatives are often portrayed in high risk situations that they usually take on and survive triumphantly. Nevertheless, what the majority of these reports headlines and sitcoms neglect is the very sophisticated and difficult work that make up most successful undercover procedures. In fact, the general public rarely if ever hears or reads about the impact that undercover operations have on the operatives and their personal lives.

With the increase in the numbers of Government Bureau of Investigation (FBI) brokers working undercover, in 1979 the FBI supervision became concerned with the detrimental areas of the personal determination necessary for undercover businesses. In 1980 a study was conducted to look for the nature and magnitude of the stressors being experience by undercover operatives in order to devise methods of reducing their negative effects.

The current research will replicate the research conducted in 1980. In addition, the present review will further analyze the stressors natural to undercover functions and will concentrate on undercover operative's negative feelings, reactive conducts and coping strategies.

Problem Statement

Undercover operations impact not only the undercover operatives' professional life but their personal life as well. There is certainly very little research that addresses this impact or the talents and constraints of undercover work. The empirical research on law enforcement stress in general and undercover stress specifically is limited by number, how current and relevant the results are, and the techniques employed. The current study looks for to load this space in the books by evaluating the stressors inherent to undercover functions and identifying an undercover realtors' coping strategies (personality, internal and communal) when working with these stressors.

Relevance of the Problem

As the numbers of FBI agent and task force officers doing undercover work continue to increase, so do the numbers of mental assessments being conducted by the FBI Undercover Guard Unit (USU). Currently, several undercover operations include the infiltration of terrorist and extremist categories. These types of operations have successfully prevented organized terrorist operations in Portland, WA and Baltimore, MD. Nevertheless, the books has little to offer on the stress brought on by issues such as "dual betrayal" which is natural in these kinds of operations, and symbolizes one of lots singular stressors involved in undercover operations. It's important to examine "dual betrayal" and other stressors natural to undercover work to be able to look for the risk factors as well as the defensive factors that can donate to the psychological well being of undercover operative.

Implications for insurance policy and/or practice

Based on the results of this study suggestions can be produced on selection, supervision and administrative strategies designed. These recommendations will seek to reduce the extraneous kinds of stress which might adversely impact an undercover operative.

In addition, the results of this research should help to sensitize the undercover operative and their supervisors to the most harmful types of stress and to identify the warning signs which indicate that these kinds of stress have reached a dangerous level.

Lastly, the result of this study may be used to develop new and ground breaking investigative techniques and techniques in psychological assessments and guidance that would talk about the undercover employee's emotional well-being and operational readiness to activate and/or continue steadily to function in covert or day to day investigations.

Literature Review

Law enforcement officials (LEOs) are confronted with very unique and tense situations. These situations may include in person encounters with violent offenders as well as criminal offense scenes with diseased and damaged offenders and patients. Many times these police officers are declined by the same community they took an oath to safeguard. There are areas which lack value an admiration for an institution they consider as cruel and corrupt. Therefore, police officers must effectively mediated and counteract the inherent job related stressors as well as those stressors that are unique to their identity as police officers (Noblet, Rodwell, & Allisey, 2009; Adams & Buck, 2010; Shane, 2010; McCarty, Zhao & Garland, 2007).

Many LEOs cannot successfully incorporate adaptive strategies for mediating occupational stressors. However, some of these LEOs succumb to traditionally maladaptive coping mechanisms. Therefore negatively influences their personal and professional lives which results in more stress and unfavorable outcomes. There are particular segments of the law enforcement community that are exposed to greater amount of systemic stressors than others. These LEOs frequently have workloads that significantly impact their opportunity and capability to work with coping strategies also to minimize the effects of experienced stressors (Waters & Ussery, 2007; Gersho, Barocas, Caonto, Li & Vlahov, 2009).

Undercover operations entice LEOs who are highly conscientious and have performed well and reliably under difficult and strenuous circumstances. Undercover functions are searched for by real estate agents/taskforce officials and their supervisors similarly. These types of assignments are often seen as a stepping stones to professional improvement and personal achievement. A couple of LEOs who excel in undercover tasks; these officers efficiently adapt potentially dangerous problems changing it into beneficial stress (eustress). Nevertheless, a review of the literature shows that LEOs who have healthy coping mechanism are the exclusion and not the rule. Undercover procedures impact the LEO as well as those who encompass them. Long-term undercover operations in particular required excessive amounts of time and determination that are at times inconsistent with the perception and ideologies of several experienced officials (Cuttler & Muchinsky, 2006; Cochrane, Tett, & Vandecreek, 2003).

Long-term businesses require the introduction of a unique romance with the prospective. Additionally there is a different romance between these undercover operatives and their supervisors which sometimes can intensify an undercover's feelings of isolation and abandonment. These undercover LEOs role taking part in requirements can be perplexing and distressing which in turn negatively influences their social romantic relationships. Many times the unspecified but perceived requirements of undercover operations can result in the unpredictable manner of an excellent career, resulting in dysfunctional human relationships, personal hardship, a loss of self-esteem and self-respect, and mental and physical harm (Noblet, Rodwell, & Allisey, 2009).

Several factors can donate to this downward spiral. Lack of satisfactory training, insufficient effective supervision, unrealistic work demands and an under cover's frequent need to achieve an procedure are a few of the factors that contain been observed. Sadly, undercover operatives who do not flourish in their respective operations as recognized by the undercover or their supervisors succumb to feelings of shame and shame, become withdrawn, irritable, sometimes lashing out against the prospective due to fear, frustration or displaced anger. Undercover operations would appear to heighten the psychological stressors already present in the law enforcement community. Nevertheless, those undercover operatives who recognized the unwanted effects of stressors and touch base for assistance will tend to be ridiculed and ostracized by their colleagues and supervisors. These officers are at times labeled as weak, untrustworthy and/or ruined goods (Cuttler & Muchinsky, 2006).

In order to understand the impact of stress on police operatives, it is important to look at stress from a person's perspective. This assessment will include the detrimental and beneficial impact of undercover operations on the professional, personal and sociable environment of operative.

Most individual's seek to minimize stressors and improve the rewards (psychological sometimes) to be able to carry on their every day lives. The sense of goal from successfully executing an assignment at the job and at home can be one such reward. An individual's occupation provides a way to obtain pride, fulfillment and personal success. Nevertheless, this same profession can be embedded in a tense environment that fosters irritation leading to mental and physical injury. LEOs are constantly subjected to dangerous situations, mental distress by others, risks to personal basic safety and life modifying moment decisions. This can be compounded by having less respect from the public, annoyance with the legal justice system and gathered experience of critical happenings. This leaves the LEO susceptible to chronic stress. That is considered a unique trait of the law enforcement vocation (Swenson & Plebanski, 2009).

Additionally, an undercover operatives self expectations and requirements from the law enforcement subculture can add to the experiential stressors and behavioral replies. Unique coping strategies in working with these stressors have been seen within the law enforcement community. The books has examined the maladaptive coping strategies that are utilized and the impact that these strategies may have on undercover operatives personal, professional and social lives. These maladaptive coping strategies include but aren't limited to; mental detachment cynicism, alcohol abuse, intimate promiscuity, and risky action (McCarty, Zhao, & Garland, 2007; Shane, 2010)

. The impact that these maladaptive coping strategies may have on the undercover operatives' life is not succinctly examined or discussed in the literature. The empirical research implies that work task can be related to degrees of experienced stress within regulations enforcement community and can contribute to the subsequent use and approval of alcohol as an attempt to mediate degrees of stress. Coping strategies that are utilized to address the problem of work related stress are serious concerns for everyone LEOs; however, some projects within regulations enforcement community may be seen as more tense than others and could be more relevant for examination of both work related stress and coping strategies (Gershon, Barocas, Canton, Li, & Vlahov, 2009).

Undercover assignments, for example, have been identified among the most stressful responsibilities within regulations enforcement community. Consequently, further examining the impact of undercover tasks on LEOs can provide a valuable contribution to the books on authorities stress (Krause, 2008; Varela, Boccaccini, Scogin, Stump, & Caputo, 2004).

The psychological problems that can be experienced with a LEO in undercover operation include but aren't limited to paranoia, isolation, stressed tension, depression, fear, and anger. Furthermore, much more serious personality disorders seem common among officers, both during and after the conclusion of undercover businesses. These disorders also may require despair, anger-hostility, differing phobias, paranoia, psychotic ideation, and interpersonal insensitivity (Adams & Buck, 2010; Carlan & Nored, 2008).

Overall, the level of suspicion that lots of officers encounter, and cannot effectively deal with, may cause problems in all areas of their professional and personal lives. In addition to the natural stressors of undercover work, officers also can experience levels of alienation from contemporary society, as well as of their acquaintances. The anger and resentment experienced by undercover officials can lead to a do it yourself alienation, which exacerbates prior feelings and plays a part in the stressors being experienced by the LEO (Carlan & Nored, 2008).

Finally, undercover assignments can place additional, and sometimes mind-boggling, strain on the personal lives of these involved with such operations. Lovers of those given to undercover businesses are put through odd working time and unstable schedules. They may be faced with days and even weeks of the officer partner being abroad, plus they may experience continual matter for the safe practices of the LEO. Also, operatives engaged in undercover procedures are often involved with a role that requires night time partying, the consumption of alcohol, and connections with users of the contrary intimacy with whom the officer is attempting to gain trust and self-confidence. In this setting up, the official may undertake changes in personality and lifestyle consequently of the role, which becomes apparent to the significant other. These stressors symbolize only a number of the issues that most undercover operatives must effectively offer with day in and day out.

Research Strategy

Undercover police officers are coping with a number of stressors such as divorce, subconscious disorders and suicide. In some instances undercover police officers, given these and other stressors, have been involved with criminal behavior, problem, and espionage. It's important to determine the nature and magnitude of the stressors natural with undercover work also to devise methods of reducing their effects.

The reason for this study is to: Identify those stressors inherent to undercover projects within federal and local LEOs and to determine the partnership between specific personality, emotional and interpersonal relations orientation styles and the capability to manage stressors prevalent in undercover operations.

The questions being reviewed are
  • Is there a significant correlation between personality styles (self-employed variable) and an undercover police officer's ability to cope with stressors prevalent in undercover assignment (centered variable)?
  • Is there a substantial correlation between subconscious characteristics (indie variable) and an undercover police officer's ability to cope with stressors common in undercover project (based mostly variable)?
  • Is there a substantial correlation between interpersonal relations orientation (independent variable) and an undercover police officer's ability to handle stressors widespread in undercover task (reliant variable)?

The research questions will be resolved through the use of validated and reliable psychometric testing. A quantitative research design consisting of psychometric test given to LEOs allocated and formerly allocated to undercover procedures, as well as those who never have been so allocated, will be used.

Recognizing the impact of undercover projects on the average person officers involved can assist in addressing the larger problem of the effect on regulations enforcement community. This research has implications for police agencies worried about the psychological and professional welfare of officials assigned to undercover obligations, and it offers some knowledge of the consequences of such functions on officials at the individual, cultural, and professional levels. Furthermore, the results of this study can offer valuable insight into the human being toll of undercover businesses and permits the study of this problem from a holistic and concerned point of view.


Independent Variable

The independent variables will an under cover's personality style as assessed by the 16PF or 16 Personality Factors test. An under cover's mental health characteristics as dependant on the MMPI-II, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Finally an under cover's social relations orientation will be examined with the FIRO-B, the fundamental interpersonal relationships orientation examination.

Dependant Variable

Ideally, measuring the stressors inherent to undercover procedures and the coping strategies employed by undercover operatives would solve the research questions. Thus, the dependant variables measured will be the natural stressors of undercover businesses and coping strategies used.


The sample of participants is a representative stratified sample. The concentration will be on undercover law enforcement officers. Ideally, there will be a total of approximately 100 members in the control and three experimental groupings to be able to execute an enough statistical analysis. This might be considered a total of 400 members.


Approximately 400 undercover law enforcement officials will be sectioned off into four categories

No experience (control group)- No genuine experience as an operative although may possess significant experience in undercover procedures as a contact of less difficult.

Occasional experience (experimental group)- Occasional task as an undercover operative for short periods of time (2 days and nights or less).

Frequent experience (experimental group)- Regular task as undercover operative but not extended or continuous undercover role requirements (thirty days or less).

Long term experience (experimental group)- Long run or profound cover experience with extended or constant role requirements (more than 1 month).


Procedure: The undercover law enforcement officials will be given the next test during regularly slated safeguard assessments

16 PF: 16 personality factors a personality assessment (APPENDIX I. )

MMPI-II: Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is test is used to assist in discovering personality framework and psychopathology (or SCL-90R, Millan Device MCMI-3) (APPENDIX II. )

FIRO-B: Fundamental Interpersonal Relationships Orientation (FIRO) can be an assessment for interpersonal relationships (APPENDIX III. )

The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale: The Holmes and Rahe stress size is a list of 43 stressful life occurrences that can contribute to health problems. (APPENDIX IV. )

The Coping Strategies Inventory: is an assessment created by Rory C. Reid, MSW, Provo Counseling Center. (APPENDIX V. )

Anticipated Data Research Plan

The researchers programs on using Structural Formula Modeling to be able to test and calculate causal relationships (between personality characteristics, psychological characteristics, interpersonal relationships orientation and an UC's capability to handle stressors) by using a mixture of statistical data and qualitative causal assumptions.

Expected Results and Conclusions

I expect to identify the stressors natural to undercover operations. Furthermore, to determining the precise personality, psychological and interpersonal relationships orientation had a need to effectively deal with the stressor natural to undercover work.

Expected Relevance for Insurance policy and Practice

Research centered on law enforcement officials stress and undercover functions has provided important, but limited perception in to the impact of undercover procedures on the professional, personal, and sociable lives of the operatives. There is a lack of empirical research addressing the positive worth of undercover projects from the average person perspective. Therefore, further research is required to identify the impact that undercover assignments have on the lives of these who function in this capacity. This understanding is required for efforts to prevent the internal and physiological destruction that can derive from continual and high impact stressors experienced in undercover functions, and decrease the maladaptive coping methods useful to counterbalance such stressors.

Limitations of the Research

The results of the study can only be generalized to the undercover police human population. The researcher also realizes that test size will also determine the genralizability, validity and stability of this research results to the undercover community. Furthermore, the operational definitions for four types of undercover official, coping strategies and natural stressors to undercover operations can create bias and could affect marketing campaign results of the analysis.

Relevant IRB Issues

The IRB will be concerned with identifying and assuring that the information obtained on the undercover operatives is noted in that manner that the operatives can not be readily identified, straight or through identifiers from the operatives; and any disclosure of the operative's reactions outside the research could fairly place the operative vulnerable to unlawful or civil liability or be harmful to the operatives' financial ranking, employability, or reputation.

Given the fact that the study will use historical data presently stored at the Undercover Guard Device (USU), the IRB will further get worried with making sure that the collection or research of existing data, documents, and records is saved by the investigator in such a manner again that operatives cannot be identified, straight or through identifiers linked to the operatives.

Lastly the IRB will ensure that the approvals of academics and professional department or agency minds are obtained.

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