As a drug
enforcement officer/detective, working undercover (UC) is the grass roots of
what we do. This can be as complex as interjecting yourself into an organization
or as simple as pretending to be a drunk passed out of a bench in order to
conduct some type of strategic surveillance. Either way you are pretending to be
someone you are not and have to alter your tactical options accordingly. Due to
operational security it would not be prudent for me to go into to much detail on
this subject on an open website. But, there are a few things that that can be
addressed that are relevant.
a UC you cannot go into operational situations with a gun belt containing all
the tricks of the trade. At most your only weapon is going to be some type of
firearm. What that weapon is and how you carry it could be the difference
between life and death of the UC. With everything going on during a UC buy it is
a challenge to stay in the UC mindset and remain as tactically sound as you can.
Often, someone else dictates situations, positions and surprises are always
around the corner.
Just keep this
in mind when you are operating in a UC capacity. The bad guy (or gal) always has
the first shot. You are going to be reacting to everything else that they do at
or toward you. He (or she) knows what they are going to do and you have to react
to their actions. In other words they hold all the advantages when the
shooting starts. This is especially true during a rip and the bad guy (or gal)
comes into the situation with a plan already in hand.
As we all know
all UC operations have some type of security and support by other officers
within the unit or team. But, keep in mind they will be reacting to the
situation also and there are going to be very few instances where they will be
able to effectively keep the UC from harm within a certain time frame. When you
get right down to it the UC is going to be on there own for a certain amount of
enforcement related shooting incidents happen within three to six seconds. It
takes some people that long to say ouch after stepping on a nail let alone
recognizing a gun is being pulled, pulling theirs and getting off a relevant
shot. Now imagine a cover team seeing or hearing the conflict and conducting
some type of intervention in that allotted time span. Odds are no matter how
well trained the cover team is three to six seconds will not be long enough for
a positive outcome for the UC.
all that there are a precautions and tactical maneuvers that we can do to give
us a fighting chance. Here are a few things I have learned from others and
during my tour in the narc unit.
carry a weapon that is not issued by your department those involved in the
drug culture do intelligence gathering on us too. This is especially true of
methamphetamine dealers. Some may recognize the make and model of your gun as
the area departments issued weapon. I know some of the hardcore Glock and 1911
people will have a problem with this one. Note: This is mostly for long term UC
operation where the bad guys (and gals) may even expect the UC to be carrying a
Keep in mind
that you will not be going into the situation wearing a gun belt. If you are
used to drawing your weapon from a holster on your side, you will probably try
to do the same out of instinct if something other than peaceful goes down.
weapon on you at all times in the manner that would have it during the UC
operation. Carry it while you cut the grass carry it while sitting and
watching TV carry it when you clean the house. There is a reason for this.
People often are self conscious about where their gun is on their bodies. They
seem to constantly touch it, pull on it and do everything else they possibly can
to give away the fact that they are armed sometimes (if not often) they do it
without even knowing it. Wearing the gun constantly during menial chores will
help you get used to it being there. Use this tip to watch the bad guys (and
gals) they may exhibit the same signs that they are carrying.
Make it a
point to draw the gun from its location on your body. Obviously, do this with
the weapon unloaded and preferably when nobody else is at home. This will save
you the chance of hurting anyone from accidental discharges even when we know
we unloaded it. And maybe even save you some embarrassing moments if you get
caught standing in front of the mirror drawing your gun and diving for cover
behind the bed.
several other issues to address with this type of article. But, again for
reasons I gave earlier I should leave them off the open web. If you have any
questions regarding this feel free to contact me and we will figure a way to get
you the information probably mail with agency letterhead.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Ferency has been a police officer for the Terre Haute
Police Department (Indiana). His assignments have included a county-wide Drug
Task Force. He has extensive experience in drug related crimes as both an
investigator and undercover officer. Greg Ferency has specialized training and
experience in methamphetamine related investigations.
He has certifications from the DEA Clandestine Laboratory
Enforcement Team in the area of Basic, Site Safety and Tactical Operations. Greg
has been at the scene of over 550 methamphetamine lab scenes as both lead
investigator and site safety officer since 1999. He is a court certified expert
in methamphetamine and its associated clandestine labs. Greg has trained law
enforcement, civilian groups, educational system employees, medical staff and
correctional personnel in methamphetamine and other drug related topics. Greg
Ferency is the author of Narc Ops: A Look Inside Drug Enforcement.
Greg can be reached at