Department/School of the Primary Author

History and Government


Undercover policing, psychological effects, reintegration, identity, training, recovery strategies


Throughout history, the evolution of crime has been responded to with an evolution in crime fighting tactics. One of these tactics was undercover operations, which were developed to combat specific varieties of crime beginning with white collar crimes and government corruption. Today, undercover operations are utilized in many other ways as well, ranging from drug stings to online operations targeting sex crimes. While these developments have greatly aided and advanced justice over the years, the time has come to begin addressing the negative effects of undercover operations on the individual officers. Evidence has demonstrated over the years that undercover operations lead to risks of negative psychological effects upon the officers involved. By engaging with past and present literature, promising corrections and solutions to some of the underlying causes of negative effects have been recognized. These resolutions include: increased training, a new attitude surrounding mental health within law enforcement, and providing a variety of mental health resources to the officers. With the potential to decrease the severity of negative psychological effects for officers returning from undercover operations, these solutions should be taken into consideration by law enforcement leadership nationwide. It is also recommended that further research be conducted on this topic to assess the effectiveness of each proposed solution as well as recognize any further areas for improvement.

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