What Does an Undercover Agent Do?

Undercover work is an essential tool for investigating white collar crimes, public corruption, terrorism, organized crime, and offenses involving controlled substances. FBI field offices must evaluate proposals for undercover operations and satisfy the stipulations placed on these investigations by the CUORC.


Undercover operations can have serious consequences for the participants and their families. An example is an officer who posed as a radical infiltrating a student milieu to locate a fugitive and developed a long-term relationship with a woman.

They are a team

Undercover agents are part of a team, and must work together to maintain their cover. They have a code word that they can use to call for help, which only the backup team knows. They also have a surveillance team that keeps track of their location, and is ready to make an emergency forced entry if the situation demands it.

Undercover operations are often used to investigate high-priority crimes, such as corruption in public institutions and other white collar violations. In a recent case, the FBI’s undercover operation was instrumental in exposing corruption in a local court system. The operation was code-named Greylord, and it involved a judge who accepted campaign contributions in exchange for fixing a criminal trial.

While undercover investigations can be highly effective, they are risky for the agents who undertake them. They must remain hidden from criminals for long periods of time, and they are often the last to discover their identity. This puts them in danger of physical injury and death.

In order to reduce the potential for undercover missteps, field divisions should consider establishing an undercover coordinator position in their department. The coordinator would be the field’s on-site expert concerning undercover matters, and could be a resource for officers in developing and reviewing undercover proposals. The coordinator should also be familiar with all policies and requirements that apply to undercover matters.

They have a code word

An undercover agent has a code word that is used to signal their handler when they are about to lose their cover. This signal allows the handler to tell them what to do next. For example, if the undercover agent is about to meet a mobster or go on a date, they will use the code word. This will alert their handler to keep them safe and allow the agent to continue with the investigation.

An undercover officer’s job is to infiltrate criminal enterprises and obtain information about their operations. This information is then used to inform law enforcement efforts. These investigations may involve a single contact with an individual, or a series of contacts involving sensitive or fiscal circumstances. An undercover operation may also involve an undercover officer enticing individuals to commit crimes they would not otherwise have committed through a process known as agent provocateur or entrapment. While jurisdictions vary, most restrict the use of these tactics to cases requiring a high level of risk to officers or significant costs to the Department.

In many cases, undercover agents must hide their identity from their families and friends. This is especially true of those working on narcotics cases. In one case, an officer working undercover as a narcotics detective told his family that he had a new job, and that the police department would never recognize him. They were also instructed not to approach him in public. This is an important step in protecting the undercover agent’s safety and their reintegration into regular duty.

They have backups

Undercover officers have a lot to worry about, including the danger of being uncovered and the lack of backup if they get hurt or die. They also have to contend with a strange lifestyle that can be difficult to reintegrate back into the police force. This can include a lack of discipline, an altered world view or neurotic responses.

One of the most serious risks is the risk that an undercover officer may engage in illegal activities. Although this is not a common occurrence, it can happen. In a recent case, an undercover officer infiltrated an organized crime group and engaged in drug trafficking. During her operation, she was exposed to dangerous and potentially lethal conditions without adequate supervision or equipment. This situation shows the need to evaluate undercover operations for their effectiveness and safety.

CDCs are responsible for evaluating proposals for undercover operations and maintaining familiarity with the undercover guidelines. They should also work closely with USOU. However, a survey of coordinators revealed that many do not always follow these directives. Some of these coordinators did not document their meetings and reviews with undercover employees, despite the requirement of Undercover Guidelines SS IV.A. In addition, a number of them did not consult with Division Counsel as required by the guidelines. This is a significant problem and should be addressed.

They have a backup team

Undercover agents typically have a team of officers who work with them to ensure their cover is never blown. The team consists of surveillance units who keep track of the undercover agent’s location and a backup unit that can make an emergency forced entry. The undercover officer should also have a prearranged code word that can be used to signal the backup unit if things go wrong.

An undercover operation is any investigation involving more than three separate contacts with a person(s) for which the undercover employee wears civilian clothing and does not identify himself or herself as a law enforcement officer. The term “undercover” can also be applied to cases in which the FBI uses deceptive fronts, such as a stolen property dealer or arms dealer, to catch criminals. Undercover operations can be long-term and expensive.

A successful undercover operation requires the agency to carefully evaluate the benefits of the operation, including its cost in terms of time invested and risk to officers. The FBI also should assess whether it is appropriate to enlist the assistance of civilians in undercover investigations.

The infiltration of dissident political groups or milieus is a common tactic. For example, an undercover agent infiltrated a Maoist political group and became the boyfriend of one of the members. This helped him gather information about the organization and its activities. In addition, the agents in this case were able to convince the members that they were not real police officers.