Undercover operations, Part II: Termination, reintegration and post-deployment syndromes

Part 2 of a 2-part series
Read Part I: Undercover operations, Part I: Planning, training and deployment

Part I discussed planning, training, and deployment of undercover operations. Here, we will discuss termination, reintegration and post-deployment syndromes.

The termination, or "closedown," phase of an undercover operation is the formal end of the undercover part of the mission. Less glamorous, but equally important, is the phase that follows termination, in which the undercover team organizes their evidence and prepares for trial. Most termination stress reactions represent normal responses to highly unusual circumstances. Accordingly, the psychological strategies used to deal with these problems should reflect a wellness-based orientation of returning otherwise high-functioning personnel to their usual state of health and efficiency, as well as beginning the phase of reintegration into normal law-enforcement work – sometimes called “re-bluing” the officer.

Some departments build a post-assignment psychological assessment and psychological debriefing phase into their termination protocol, as a component separate from the more usual operational debriefing. As with psychological debriefings in general the purpose is to destigmatize the process, so that no UCO feels singled out for special treatment, and to make the process as palatable as possible.

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