Date of Conferral
Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)
Undercover officers experience unique job-related stressors due to the covert nature and sometimes long duration of their tasks. Undercover officers adopt false identities that involve taking on a personality and lifestyle that the officer might find personally objectionable. If this identity is ever compromised, they and family members are in great danger. Officers are faced with the daily possibility of encountering abrupt and unforeseen traumatic events, such as gang retaliation, terrorism, and other events rarely experienced by civilians. Such events that exceed the range of normal experience are critical incidents, and they may be so overwhelming that they are beyond the person’s ability to cope. Research into the factors influencing the willingness of undercover officers to accept or actively seek services is sparse. This phenomenological study was used to examine the perceptions of undercover officers regarding post critical incident mental health services and whether their attitudes about them have changed over time; 5 undercover officers were interviewed. Participants acknowledged their stigma-induced resistance to help-seeking as well as a slowly improving view of mental health services among police officers and indicated they would both use services if provided and encourage psychologically distressed colleagues to do the same. Results from the study may inform the development of effective services that undercover police officers will accept and use to reduce psychological distress, and to improve job performance, quality of life, and survivability.
Spinella, David B., "Undercover Law Enforcement Operatives’ Perceptions of Post Critical Incident Mental Health Services" (2020). Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies. 9265.