We can thank the French for the first systematic and documented formal undercover operations made popular by Eugene Francois Vidocq. At the end of 1811 he set up the first formal plain clothes unit, the Brigade de la Surete (e.g. the Security Brigade). There were eight secret personnel who came from the criminal element as did Vidocq, and 28 official agents by the end of 1812 or early 1813.
Undercover Agent Outed
Undercover operations are by nature stressful. In many cases discovery of the true identity may open the agent to physical harm, but the thought of failure is devastating. Also, it is important that the agent is strongly grounded. More than one undercover operation has been compromised when the undercover agent becomes so integrated in the group under investigation that they begin to identify more strongly with the group than their parent agency. Psychologically, undercover operations are very stressful.
Plain Clothes Investigators VS Under Cover Agents
There is a distinction between plain clothes investigators and an undercover agent. Plain clothes investigator were instigated to better build rapport with the persons involved with an investigation, where some may have intimidated by a uniformed officer. Whereas undercover agents dress like the group under investigation, take on the group’s persona, integrate with the group and strive to become a trusted member of the group. Many groups are organized to varying degrees and may span international boundaries or be affiliated in an international criminal enterprise. They are attempting to obtain sufficient evidence to support prosecution of the leadership through identification and the collection of facts that would constitute evidence. Spy operations are similar with the same dangers, usually including loss of life, torture and failure. Much of the enforcement related undercover operations are drug related, though vice and intelligence operations conduct undercover operations.
Covert Surveillance Methods
For the private investigator integration into a business’ dock or workforce to counter employee theft or incognito to capture clientele shop lifting, a security function, are two of the primary investigative undercover operations. Another area is to be a corporate officer to counter internal corruption. Because being low key, plainclothes and undercover personnel can conduct surveillance operations without obvious notice by those being surveilled. As such pedestrian surveillance operations would be an undercover operation, as for it to work the person conducting the surveillance cannot be discovered or suspected. There is much training in the techniques of proper and successful surveillance that they need to learn to be effective, whether pedestrian or vehicular or technical surveillance.
Tasks of an Undercover Operative
The primary tasks of an undercover operative are the maintenance of identity and reintegration back into normal duty. Stress of separation, from family and friends is difficult and strains relationships. The operative undergoes personality and significant lifestyle changes. The elaborate planning, risk and resource expenditure are also considerations. Most undercover operations have no planned determination of conclusion and are open ended as to duration. One of the primary problems is corruption of the undercover agent.
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Although 1811 France was the birth of the official undercover and plainclothes operations by a police force, informally these operations probably where in unofficial operations for much longer. For national institution it would carry over into spy craft, or internal security forces, for which Russia has and extensive history and experience. Indeed, this may go back to the days of the Greeks or earlier. Advanced Private Investigator & Security can handle all your private investigation and security needs. Contact us today!