ASK A COP: What Does it Take to go Undercover?

On TV it's the most glamorous police job. How about real life?

Question: When you graduate the academy to become a police officer, how can you become an undercover police officer?
Do you have a choice or do you have to work your way up to become one?
From SCPD Deputy Chief Steve Clark:

Undercover police work is always portrayed as a glamorous and stealthy career endeavor. I have worked a number of “undercover” assignments including local narcotics teams and a sting with the DEA.

In reality, the workload and general demands of the job are one of the most intense. The level of skill and knowledge necessary do not lend themselves to dropping a new hire into the positions. You need to learn a few things about the job and have a proven track record that validates your capabilities, ability to work independently and sound judgment.

Additionally these positions are competitive opportunities. When we have an opening for such an assignment, the officers are required to compete internally for the position.

Typically, the officers need to have worked and excelled in some kind of parallel assignment like investigations, or street crimes. If you are selected, you need to continue to prove your capabilities in that role. It is a great career aspiration, but it is one that is earned, not given.

CHP Officer Sarah Jackson adds: "Working undercover in a plain clothes investigative position, or in any other specialty assignment requires a proven ability to be proficient in patrol.


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