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How to Become an Undercover Police Officer

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The job of police officer is one of the most challenging positions you can hold. However, imagine working as a cop incognito. An undercover police officer must maintain a strict code of secrecy and cope with high levels of stress.

Let those who make hiring decisions and are responsible for personnel assignments know you are interested in becoming an undercover police officer.

Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the assignment, the “role” you will play and whatever else you need to know, then demonstrate to those to whom you will report that you are ready for the assignment.

As you continue to work in your undercover assignment, adapt and adjust as often as necessary to keep your credibility and your role believable.

Continue to follow all rules and regulations of the department you are working for as best you can without compromising your undercover assignment.

Turn in all reports and information as soon as possible so that those who are monitoring the overall operation will have the most current information.


Sometimes, police or sheriff’s departments put a new recruit in the position of undercover police officer, without allowing that person to work in any other area of police work first. In this way, the person’s face is not known and will not be recognized or associated with law enforcement in any way.

If you feel you could or would be a good undercover police officer, mention this when you have been given official notice that you have been hired by a police or sheriff’s department.


Be aware that as an undercover police officer, you may have to separate yourself from your family, friends, neighborhood, place of worship and other aspects of your “normal” life for a period of time. This might be the only way you can perform your duties.

Be aware that as an undercover police officer, you may be subject to the same treatment as anyone else, especially if arrests occur as a result of your undercover work.

Be aware that your identity may be revealed or your “cover may be blown” at any time. Have a plan whereby you can safely remove yourself as soon as this occurs.

Protect your family as much as possible while you are working undercover. Make sure adequate security measures are in place and make sure you are not followed when you return home.

Do not share any information with any member of your family. A loved one could inadvertently say something that might put you and your job in jeopardy, and could even place the family in danger of retaliation.

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  • Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images