Undercover Police Surveillance Tactics
Quality undercover police surveillance tactics can be affected by the size of the law enforcement agency. Even the best training and education on techniques can be rendered invalid if the officers don’t have the resources that they need to be effective.
Larger law enforcement agencies have the luxury of employing full time surveillance agents. Some agencies have whole divisions dedicated to this task; they may even have divisions that operate separate from one another. For example, some large police departments have a surveillance division that consists of 6 to 8 officers that are dedicated to the narcotics division, and another surveillance division that consists of 4 to 6 additional officers that is dedicated to the vehicle theft division. These surveillance agents and departments have the knowledge and time to research, develop, and deploy covert video surveillance systems. The narcotics agents, or the vehicle theft agents, can put in a request to have intelligence gathered on a specific location, and the surveillance officers will go to work on figuring out the best way to conduct a covert, undercover, video surveillance operation. Each of the different divisions are able to focus on their case loads, and the tasks that are specific to their assignment.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of law enforcement agencies do not have this luxury. Most officers just want to do their job. They want to focus on the next undercover drug buy. They want to plan out the strategy for officer safety, or figure out how to get a confession on a burglary. They don’t want to have to worry about learning complex advanced technologies. Most officers and departments don’t have the time, money, resources, or knowledge to build covert law enforcement video surveillance systems. They understand the value of these technologies, but they just want it to work by pushing a button, or going to a simple website.
Most police departments have at least one officer that loves to tinker, or dig into the newest piece of law enforcement equipment and see how it works. However, they usually don’t have the resources to purchase individual parts, and conduct the research and development for each job. Even the most technologically advanced officers that understand what components make up a video surveillance system greatly underestimate the time and resources that are required to put together a reliable pole camera or other covert system. They fail to think about the various scenarios that only years of experience can provide.
On the other side of the coin, most departments also have at least one officer that can’t figure out how to send an email, and the thought of a smart phone scares them. They refuse to adapt to the technology that is constantly invading every aspect of life… and criminal activity. These officers are good at what they do, but usually have to do things the long hard way. They exhaust their efforts in doing things the same why that they have been doing them for the last 15 years, when new technology allows for it to be done in a tenth of the time. These officers spend a lot of time trying to avoid the inevitable, and when they finally embrace it, they prefer to just ask for help, rather than figure it out on their own.
Quality covert video surveillance equipment should be capable of being easily used by the officer that doesn’t want to embrace technology, but complex enough to allow the advanced officer to maximize the capabilities of the equipment. Police surveillance equipment should be reliable, and in the rare occasion that good police video equipment does fail, help should be available. Police work is 24/7/365, customer service should be also.
~ Slade C. Gurr ~