Crjs390 IP

You are an environmental behavioral specialist for criminal justice professionals in the law enforcement field. The chief of police has asked you to review the seven-person undercover narcotics unit because there have been several internal affairs investigations involving excessive use of force, mishandling of evidence, and mishandling of informants. The chief knows the six men and one woman on the team and believes they are all good officers.

He uses them outside of narcotics work to make death notifications to families when someone dies in an accident or crime.  He also knows they have been doing a lot of excessive drinking on the job and after work. They are highly productive in terms of quality cases and seizures of controlled substances, and they are working around the clock, on some cases 24 or 36 hours in a row. You must evaluate the situation and provide the chief with suggestions.

In a report to the chief of police, you will cite the findings of your research and observations with recommendations to the chief. Statements of fact in your presentation require that you cite the reference from which you obtained the information in the text of the paper and that the reference be included in your reference page. As always, your paper will be submitted in the current edition of APA format. No abstract is required because this is a short position paper, but a title page, reference page, and appropriate running header with page numbers should be included.

Assignment Guidelines

  • How does stress impact discretion on the part of the team members? Explain.
    • Select 2 areas of discretion for a narcotics team, and describe the possible temptations in these areas.
  • How could the additional assignment of death notifications affect members of the team? Explain.
  • How does the microcosm of the police agency insulate itself from the community? Explain.
    • How do special teams like narcotics or SWAT take this one step further? Explain.
  • How can overcoming the fight or flight syndrome lead to unnecessary heroics, putting the members of the unit in danger? Explain.
  • Identify 2 issues in the handling of social and professional relationships under stress conditions in the unit.
    • How can these issues arise? Explain.
  • How can racial and ethnic demographics contribute to bias in this type of unit? Explain.



Title: Evaluating the Undercover Narcotics Unit: Stress, Discretion, and Ethical Considerations


This report aims to evaluate the seven-person undercover narcotics unit in light of recent internal affairs investigations involving excessive use of force, mishandling of evidence, and informants. The report will discuss the impact of stress on discretion, identify areas of discretion in a narcotics team, examine the effects of additional assignments on team members, analyze the insularity of police agencies, explore the implications of special teams, discuss the consequences of the fight or flight syndrome, highlight issues in handling relationships under stress, and address the influence of racial and ethnic demographics on bias within the unit.

Stress and Discretion

  1. Impact of stress on discretion: High levels of stress can impair an individual’s decision-making abilities and lead to reduced discretion. Stressors such as long working hours, continuous casework, and the pressure to produce results can contribute to cognitive overload and compromise judgment (APA, 2021). Stress may impair officers’ ability to assess situations accurately, leading to impulsive actions and deviations from established protocols.

Areas of Discretion and Temptations 2. Areas of discretion in a narcotics team: Two key areas of discretion in a narcotics team are evidence handling and interactions with informants. Officers have the authority to control and document the collection, preservation, and storage of evidence. Additionally, they make decisions regarding informant recruitment, handling, and credibility assessment (Dempsey & Forst, 2019).

  1. Temptations in these areas: The potential temptations in evidence handling include the mishandling or tampering of evidence, which can compromise the integrity of the criminal justice system. Regarding informants, officers may be tempted to manipulate or exploit their relationships for personal gain, such as receiving illicit payments or favors (Dempsey & Forst, 2019).

Effects of Additional Assignment: Death Notifications 4. Impact on team members: The additional assignment of death notifications can have adverse effects on the mental well-being and emotional resilience of team members. Constant exposure to the grief and trauma experienced by families can contribute to compassion fatigue, emotional exhaustion, and potentially affect their ability to perform optimally in other aspects of their work (Kirschman, 2020).

Insularity of Police Agencies 5. Insulation from the community: Police agencies can become insulated from the community due to a variety of factors, such as the “us versus them” mentality, socialization within the law enforcement culture, and limited external oversight. This insularity can lead to a lack of accountability, reduced transparency, and a disconnection from community needs and concerns (Reisig & Parks, 2019).

Special Teams and Insularity 6. Going further: Special teams like narcotics or SWAT often operate in highly specialized and intense environments, fostering a stronger sense of solidarity and exclusivity within the team. This can reinforce the insularity of the police agency as special teams tend to develop their own subcultures, distinct from the larger organization. The secrecy and high-risk nature of their work may contribute to reduced accountability and a perception of being above the law (Reisig & Parks, 2019).

Fight or Flight Syndrome and Unnecessary Heroics 7. Consequences of fight or flight syndrome: The fight or flight response, triggered by high-stress situations, can lead to impulsive decision-making and a desire to take unnecessary risks. This can manifest as heroic acts, where team members may engage in overly aggressive actions, disregarding their own safety and potentially endangering the entire unit (APA, 2021).

Issues in Handling Social and Professional Relationships under Stress

  1. Conflict escalation: Under high-stress conditions, interpersonal conflicts within the unit can escalate quickly, affecting both social and professional relationships. Stressors such as long working hours, intense casework, and the pressure to perform can exacerbate existing tensions and result in increased conflict among team members. This can lead to a breakdown in communication, reduced trust, and a negative work environment (APA, 2021).
  2. Communication breakdown: Stress can impair effective communication within the unit, hindering the sharing of critical information, coordination of tasks, and resolution of conflicts. Team members may experience heightened emotions, difficulty expressing themselves clearly, or a reluctance to seek help or provide feedback. Inadequate communication can result in misunderstandings, errors in decision-making, and a lack of cohesiveness within the unit (APA, 2021).

These issues can arise due to several factors. Firstly, the demanding nature of undercover narcotics work, including long hours and high-pressure situations, can create chronic stress among team members. This chronic stress can increase irritability, decrease patience, and amplify underlying conflicts. Additionally, the highly secretive and high-stakes nature of their work may foster an environment where team members feel the need to be constantly vigilant, suspicious, and guarded, making it challenging to build and maintain healthy relationships.

Furthermore, the nature of undercover work often involves deception and reliance on trust among team members. The stress of maintaining cover identities and the constant need for secrecy can strain interpersonal dynamics. This can lead to increased anxiety, suspicion, and a lack of open communication, making it difficult to establish and maintain positive relationships within the unit.

Racial and ethnic demographics can contribute to bias in this type of unit due to inherent prejudices and stereotypes that may exist within society and impact law enforcement. In diverse units, racial and ethnic biases can arise from unconscious biases, prejudiced attitudes, or prior negative experiences that individuals hold. These biases can affect how team members perceive and interact with suspects, informants, and members of the community. Biases may manifest as profiling, differential treatment, or even the mishandling of cases based on racial or ethnic characteristics.

Additionally, the presence of racial or ethnic biases within a unit can undermine trust and cohesion among team members. If biases go unchecked and unaddressed, they can lead to a toxic work environment, discrimination, and unfair treatment within the unit. This, in turn, can negatively impact the unit’s effectiveness, erode community relations, and contribute to a lack of legitimacy and public trust in law enforcement (Kochel, Wilson, & Mastrofski, 2011).

It is essential for law enforcement agencies to address bias through training, education, and fostering an inclusive and diverse work environment that promotes cultural competence and sensitivity. By acknowledging and actively combating biases, agencies can work towards creating a more equitable and effective undercover narcotics unit






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