There are dozens of different avenues of work within the field of the police, but being an undercover cop is probably one of the most unique and most difficult roles available. An undercover cop must balance the integrity and professionalism of a cop, while maintaining the related composure of a general citizen.
People tend to freeze up when they see cops, and try and are even more cautious in appearing to follow the law. It can be hard to find the repeat offenders who break the law when they think no one is watching. An undercover position allows people to remain in their natural habits, and it can be easier to spot unlawful citizens in these scenarios. An undercover cop usually has specific missions. For example, an undercover cop may attempt to purchase drugs from a drug dealer in order to obtain evidence for an arrest.
According to an article from North Carolina Wesylen College the training about how to become a undercover cop is extensive. An undercover position puts one directly in the line of danger. In order for them to be fully prepared for the job, they have to log many hours out in the field with trainee cops. Undercover cops often going through training on identifying drugs and counter band, learning the appropriate “street manner” to pursue a purchase and normal prices of the products on the market.
Being undercover is more than putting on a t-shirt and baseball cap and walking the streets. The cops have to create an entire identify, complete with names, background information, family and job situations, and other miscellaneous information. Some undercover law enforcement even go as far as having fake licenses, IDs and papers drawn, and staging brushes with the law to maintain their credibility on the streets. Coming back off an undercover position can be difficult, but many also find the work to be rewarding.
An article on Education Portal explains how one can pursue a career as an undercover cop. The first thing to keep in mind is you should not walk into a police station and expect to be handed an undercover cop position. It’s a position one needs to work for, and entering the force with the right attitude and right mind just might land you where you want to be.
Walking in with knowledge about the career is the best first step. No one will be impressed if you beg for the job but sound like an airhead when they ask you about the career. Understand the roles and missions of an undercover position before you pursue one.
For almost all police positions, at least a high school diploma or GED is required, but you will usually get a lot farther if you pursue higher education. Some positions require an undergraduate degree. Criminal Justice is the best choice, but Public Administration and Political Science are also good jumping points if the institutions of higher education in your area do not offer criminal Justice. You can also look into classes at a community college or a certificate program if an undergraduate education isn’t tangible for you right now.
Police Academy Training is the next step. These courses, only available to those 21 or older, usually last between 12-14 weeks. These courses train you in everything from emergency response and first aid to how to use a gun. These classes are crucial and usually required to move up in the industry. Check out the Police School Guide to find a school offering a police academy near you.
Hitting the gym can also be a helpful addition to your routine. Police officers need to be very fit, and able to exert a lot of energy at one time. Engage in lost distance running, weights, strengthening exercise and swimming to increase your overall fitness. Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor to make sure your eyes are healthy and get corrective lenses if need be.
The last and likely most crucial step to getting a role as an undercover cop is getting experience in law enforcement. As stated before, you are unlikely to walk straight into an undercover position. Find an entry level position, get to know the field, make connections and work your way up to the career you want.