What is the problem/issue addressed in the paper? In other words, what does the author cite as the purpose of the study or what is the author trying to find out? – The issue that the study wished toexplore was the effect of undercover work on the officer’s professional andpersonal life.
That is to say, the study was concerned with the adaptation to workingundercover after working normal, everyday police work. How and why they actedas they did undercover, was important to understand. Once finished workingundercover, the study wanted to find out how the officer then returned tonormal, patrol type work. On a more personal level, the study sought to addressrelationships that the officer that included their families. The study wishedto offer a view into the undercover officer’s world and discover any problemsthat might arise for the officer during or after the time that they wereworking undercover.
Summarize the author’s review of the related literature. – As the authors, Pogrebin and Poole, delve into the beginning of the study, the examined the work of Manning, Marx, William and Guess, and Farkas in order to obtain information from their studies. Pogrebin and Poole focused their review of related literature on what the other studies found that changed the way the officer operated and how their mindset could be altered.
Manning and Marx both hypothesize that the culture that the officer must adapt to would alter the officer’s ability to collect information in what would be considered a normal manner. The officer undercover must collect information with the help of criminals, either as informants, through the infiltration process, or both. Officers must decide for themselves what is right or wrong in a situation, including how to deal with the situation. Marx goes a step further to suggest that officers undercover have their own code of sharing information that can make them more capable withholding what they think is not pertinent. Williams and Guess further suggest that by being alone and following their investigation isolates the officer from their work colleagues. This, they postulate, can lead to more issues inside the law enforcement department because officers may choose to not follow the laws themselves.
While some might suggest that new rules and structure might be needed in order to protect the officers in their work from harm and from potential corruption, Farkas adds that these measures are in place, but not necessarily used. What is the specific research question/questions?- There were a few questions that thisstudy focused on. How does the officer conduct themselves undercover? Whateffect does this have on their mindset when it comes to deciding what is rightand wrong? How does working undercover effect their personal lives? How do theyadapt back into normal, everyday police work? These four questions seek toexplain the overall, sociological effects of undercover work on the specific officer’slife. In answering these questions, especially the ones about how the officerconducts themselves undercover and their decision-making skills regarding thelegality of activities, a look into how the officer is changed by the undercoverwork is made possible. By questioning how they adapt back into normal police workoffers researchers a chance to see the changes from undercover and how theofficer will react to situations that are not in almost constant tension filledmoments. The look into the personal life will ask and answer the question ofmuch of an effect undercover work has on a family, for better or worse.
What dataset (or datasets) does the author use? Who is being studied? What mechanism is used to collect the data? When was the data collected? Where did the study take place? Why was this data set chosen? How much data was collected?- The authors’ datasets were made up ofthree federal agencies and eight municipal police departments in Denver,Colorado. The participants were previous and current members of the undercoverunit, overall two groups that had ten participants each. Then two more groupswere added whose focus was on length of time spent, 10 officers currentlyworking undercover with less than 3 years of undercover work and 10 currentlyundercover officers with more than 3 years of undercover work. The same twogroups were added, but with officers that were not currently conductingundercover work. Overall there were 40 people who had volunteered to be in thestudy being conducted, 35 men and 5 women, each having spent a certain amountof time working as an undercover officer. Every member of each group was thenindividually interviewed in the privacy of conference rooms, offices, andinterrogation rooms.
At the end of the interview process, there was oneinterview per participant, each lasting about 2 hours and recorded. What are the major strengths and weaknesses of the dataset?- The datasets that the researcherscreated have many strengths, but two large weaknesses involved. The use of bothfederal and municipal officers in the study makes it stronger by not justfocusing on one area. By having this cross section, researchers are able tocompare the effects of officers overall, instead of just focusing on thefederal or local level. They do not use anyone other than the officers thathave worked undercover, which is important because other individuals would nothave the information needed by the researchers. By using the number of yearsworked as a variable, the study can look at the effects of undercover work inmore of a longitudinal way.
The researchers can see if time plays a part in theofficer’s actions and mindset. However, thetwo large weaknesses at play are the location and sex of the participants. Thestudy was only conducted in Denver, which leads to questions of whether it isonly applicable to that specific area. By using more than one area of theUnited States, the study could have more of a national representation ofundercover law enforcement. Also, the study does not say that only 5 women werechosen for the study based on the population size. If the population size wasnot considered, there could be issues that arise because the researchersfocused disproportionately on male officers than female officers. Men and womenhave different views on issues and on how to deal with problems, so theresearch should take that into account and focus on the population to get thebest population sample they can.
What are the major results and important findings of the study?- There were many different findings inthe study about how the undercover work effected the officer. First, the studyfound that the officer relies heavily on their informant and the group the jointo conduct their work. The type of interactions between officer and criminalhave a reciprocity relationship that must be maintained for the law enforcementcase to be continued. Through this reciprocity, the officer, whether they wantto or not, often finds themselves relating to the criminals and becomingconcerned about them. While they can develop this type of relationship with thecriminals they work with, officers also become very cynical and do not trustanyone.
It is how they stay alive and gain their information. The study foundthat in the officer’s personal life, they become isolated because of the jobthey have taken on. They cannot go out with their families freely and theycannot share information with them due to the highly confidential nature oftheir work. This splits the family in half, leaving the officer feeling lonely.Finally, when the officer returns to work, the study found that many are often depressed,angry, and mistrusting of others.
The things that kept them alive and working inthe undercover case have become part of the officer’s daily life. Right andwrong become muddled, as well as how to handle situations becomes questionable.At home, families have a hard time coming together again, may because they donot realize that it was an undercover job that pushed them apart.
In some cases,these relationships cannot be saved and divorce occurs. What are the author’s main conclusions? – The authors’ main conclusion of thestudy is to call attention to the harmful or at the very least, life alteringways undercover work effects the officer. Many officers are excited and seekout undercover work because of the mystique involved in the work. They do notthink about the effects it will have on them. Undercover work will make theofficer question themselves and the world around them. It can make them morelike the criminals they work with and offer a distorted picture of right andwrong. It can take them away from their families or push their families away.The after effects are also something that should be considered.
Like almostcoming down from a high, the officer is left deflated and returning to normalpolice work can be hard, if not impossible. The officer can become angry easilyand have a cynical world view. With undercover work, the officer’s transformationfrom regular officer to undercover officer is one that is hard to do and comeback from when the assignment is over. How would this study be useful for criminal justice professionals? What policies could be informed or changed as a result of this study? (correctional officers, probation/parole officers, judges, law enforcement agents or lawyers)- The study would be the most usefulfor officers considering undercover work. Most like the idea of workingundercover because it is mysterious and they are able to work without manyconstraints being placed upon them.
However, if the officer considers thisstudy, they would have a well-rounded picture of what their future may hold. Theissues involved both at work and at home are not small ones. The officer hasmuch to lose in trying to work undercover and maintain a normal life. Farkassays that there are policies in place to help undercover officers conduct theirinvestigations, but maybe they could go further than what they are. Suggestionsthat agencies explain the potential effects of working undercover to potentialofficers would be a good change. Also, setting up a program to help undercoverofficers decompress after working undercover and acclimating to everyday lifewould be a promising start to helping these officers. Respond to the critical thinking question(s) at the end of the article.One of the major findings from thisstudy is that working undercover can exact a heavy toll on detectives.
Considerthe article by Stenross and Kleinman about emotional labor. How do you thinkworking undercover affects the emotional labor of being a detective? In whatways do you think working undercover exacerbates the difficulties detectivesexperience when interacting with innocents, victims, offenders, and theirfamilies?- Working undercover requires thedetective to do work and rely on themselves to get things done. They must be consciousof themselves at all moments so they do not miss anything important.
Byconstantly working and not having to create an emotional bond with the personthey are working with, the dective does not have to take into considerationemotions. Working undercover, it seems officers would prefer to deal withcriminals rather than victims or their families because they do not have toface people who are expecting them to understand their emotions and problems.Criminals may share their problems, but officers can focus on their jobs andnot really worry about the emotional labor. With victims and family members,the emotional labor becomes harder when undercover because they are playing apart and also trying to be themselves.
Their undercover persona could make themless understanding with victims. With their families, it would be hard to haveto explain why they cannot go certain places and have to deakl with theemotional fallout. For an undercover officer, the emotional labor before takingon an undercover investigation is exacerbated once the investigation begins.