The maintenance of identity problems are those which are associated with deployment and the living of a double life in a new environment. Undercover work is one of the most stressful jobs that a police officer can undertake. The largest stressor identified is the separation of an agent from friends, family and their normal environment. This simple isolation can lead to depression and anxiety. There is no data on the divorce rates of agents, but strain on relationships does occur. This can be a result of a need for secrecy and an inability to share work problems, the unpredictable work schedule, personality and lifestyle changes and the length of separation can all result in problems for relationships.
Stress can also result from an apparent lack of direction of the investigation or not knowing when it will end. The amount of elaborate planning, risk and expenditure can also place pressure on an agent to succeed which can cause considerable stress. The stress that an undercover agent faces is considerably different from his counterparts on regular duties, whose main source of stress is a result of the administration and the bureaucracy. As the undercover agents are removed from the bureaucracy, it may result in another problem. As they do not have the usual controls of a uniform, badge, constant supervision, a fixed place of work, or (often) a set assignment could, combined with their continual contact with the criminal underworld, increase the likelihood for corruption.
This stress may be instrumental in the development of drug or alcohol abuse in some agents. They are more prone to the development of an addiction as they suffer greater stress than other police, they are isolated, and drugs are often very accessible. Police, in general, have very high alcoholism rates compared to most occupational groups, and stress is cited as a likely factor. The environment that agents work in often involves a very liberal exposure to the consumption of alcohol, which in conjunction with the stress and isolation could result in alcoholism.
There can be some guilt associated with going undercover as a result of betraying the trust of those who have come to trust you. This can cause anxiety or even, in very rare cases, sympathy with those being targeted. This is especially true with the infiltration of political groups, as often the agent will share similar characteristics with those they are infiltrating like class, age, ethnicity or religion. This could even result in the conversion of some agents.
The lifestyle led by undercover agents is very different compared to other areas in law enforcement, and it can be quite difficult to reintegrate back into normal duties. Agents work their own hours, they are removed from direct supervisory monitoring and they can ignore the dress and etiquette rules. So the resettling back into the normal police role requires the shredding of old habits, language and dress. After working such free lifestyles agents may have discipline problems or exhibit neurotic responses. They may feel uncomfortable, and take a cynical, suspicious or even paranoid world view and feel continually on guard.
Drug and alcohol abuse appears to be more of an issue of personality, combined with an exposure to an environment which is stressful, isolated and where drugs and alcohol are freely accessible. According to Girodo those police who are impulsive, emotional and who have an undisciplined self image are not suitable for undercover work on the grounds that the risk of alcohol and drug abuse is higher.
FORMER PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY POLICE OFFICER PLEADS GUILTY TO EXTORTION CONSPIRACY MEMBERS OF THE CONSPIRACY PAID AN UNDERCOVER AGENT $1,770,230 FOR MORE THAN 17 MILLION CONTRABAND CIGARETTES.
May 25, 2011; GREENBELT, Md. -- The following information was released by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland:...
Business Owners Sentenced in Prince George's County Extortion Conspiracy Conspirators Paid an Undercover Agent $1,770,230 for More Than 17 Million Contraband Cigarettes
Jun 11, 2012; GREENBELT, Md. -- The following information was released by the Baltimore Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation: U.S....
BUSINESS OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO EXTORTION CONSPIRACY MEMBERS OF THE CONSPIRACY PAID AN UNDERCOVER AGENT $1,770,230 FOR MORE THAN 17 MILLION CONTRABAND CIGARETTES.
Jul 01, 2011; GREENBELT, Md. -- The following information was released by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland:...