Undercover Cops Share The Craziest Thing They’ve Done To Maintain Their Cover
Police officers have incredibly important jobs. Their main duty is to protect us, but with that often comes some complicated and dangerous situations. They go to work every day not knowing exactly what they are going to encounter, and that kind of uncertainty can be quite terrifying. Now, imagine working under such circumstances, but also having to completely disguise who you really are so that your true identity doesn’t become known to high-level criminals.
When cops work undercover, they must operate in a strategic and meticulous manner. One wrong move, and their cover—as well as the entire operation—could be blown. Plus, they could be putting themselves in even more danger. So it’s understandable that they would be willing to go above and beyond to maintain their guise. That’s exactly what the following cops did.
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#1 Babysitting Before The Bust
My dad was an undercover cop for several years. One time, he came across a person who was addicted to illicit substances. He hung out with her all the time and even babysat her kids when she went out. This went on for several months while they were figuring out who the ring leader was. He grew a beard, had a fake ID, and drove an old, terrible car.
Eventually, they got warrants to bust a bunch of people in the drug ring and he actually was part of the SWAT team at the time. He had to wear a balaclava to protect his identity when he was with the SWAT team. He said it was difficult because he had become an important part of those kids’ lives and was kind of attached to them.
Now, they had no mother and had to be taken to child protective services. I never got to ask him more questions about this before he passed, but I have no idea how he balanced this crazy second life and then came home and acted like a normal father to our family.
#2 City Cop Duties
I’m a city cop.
We don’t do too much long-term undercover work, but we do have a policy covering the use of illicit substances on duty in certain circumstances. While it doesn’t specify that we are allowed to use them, it states that if we consume them, we have to immediately respond to our department’s health clinic for documentation and treatment.
#3 Cops Catching Cops
My father worked for NCIS. He told me about an incident where his guys set up a sting to bust some illicit suppliers who turned out to be the local police. They had set up their own sting to catch the same targets. They figured it out when they tried to bust each other.
#4 The ATF Attack
My cousin was an undercover ATF agent. Anyway, they were trying to bust some guys for illicit distribution practices and were building a rapport with some gang members by going undercover. My cousin doesn’t take his ATF badge with him while he’s undercover because if anyone ever saw it, he could get shot.
Anyway, some hot-headed black-and-white cops came over and started harassing them. My cousin couldn’t blow his cover, but pretty soon the police started getting physical and they beat up my cousin to get evidence from him. They took them all into the police station only to find out that my cousin is ATF. My cousin was annoyed because cops aren’t supposed to beat people up. He is currently filing a lawsuit against that police department.
#5 Watering It Down
A guy who worked with me was going undercover to this biker bar to get in with a gang. He didn’t want to get hammered and do something stupid, so he would take his beverages into the bathroom with him, dump out half of it, and fill them with water.
#6 An Inside Job
As a former correctional officer:
We had a situation where a major police department planted a cop in the prison to get information on a guy they believed was orchestrating hits from inside the prison. The warden and I both knew about the undercover operation, but not a single other correctional officer knew, nor did any of the staff, including the medical personnel.
That’s the way they wanted it. He went through receiving, then was categorized and placed. It was wild. He was there for a week, got the info they needed and got him out. It didn’t become public knowledge that he was undercover until after I had left and it was a long while after as they were making a case. That was a surreal moment.
#7 Eavesdropping Over Entrees
I’m former law enforcement. I did a few deployments in a surveillance capacity to sit near targets in restaurants and bars to overhear conversations. Sorry to disappoint, but I didn’t do anything particularly crazy. Criminals just tend to talk about the same stuff that everyone else talks about: women and sports. Publicly, they tend not to talk too much about their criminal activities but you can still glean information from places they say they went to and people they say they know.
#8 Accepting Arrest
My friend who was an undercover cop said that multiple times he had to let himself be arrested to not blow his cover. Like, when a sting was going down or whatever, instead of being like, “Hey I’m a cop,” he would get arrested along with everyone else.
#9 A Stranger In The Family
I have a relative who was undercover in narcotics. Before he started, we had a family meeting explaining that if we saw him out and about we were not to approach him or say anything to him. He would come to us if he wasn’t undercover at the moment.
#10 Buff Biker
My cousin worked undercover in the biker community. He was really into working out and bodybuilding so he managed to convince everybody that he treated his body like a temple. That wasn’t very far from the truth, so it wasn’t hard for him to play the part. He is also a former Marine sharpshooter and pretty heavily tattooed, so he definitely gave off a “don’t mess with me” vibe.
#11 The Doctor Will See You Now
I know a guy (retired police officer) who works as an investigator of crooked doctors. He dresses up in disguises and is given a fake name to use. He goes into doctor’s offices and tries to find out if a doctor who is suspected of overprescribing narcotics is legitimate or not.
He told me a story about a time he went to see a dentist about a minor toothache and walked out of there with a prescription for Percocet and Dilaudid. He says there are plenty of legit doctors out there, but there are also a lot of careless ones who give into their patients.
#12 Undercovered Into A Coma
My father’s friend is an undercover officer who spent the last two months in the hospital. He was put in a coma when his target found out that he was a cop. They beat him to death, or so they thought. It took the police over an hour to get to him. He had a brain bleed and multiple fractures. The risk those guys take by going undercover is remarkable.
When he was in a coma, I was sure he was going to die. He made an amazing recovery and is now at home!
#13 Blaming The Brother
My husband and his brother worked for neighboring departments. My husband was undercover in narcotics and his brother was a beat cop.
One night, my husband was buying some illicit substances from a group of dudes. One of the friends of the seller recognized my husband, probably from court or something. The seller’s friend started saying, “This guy is a cop! I know he’s a cop. I’ve seen him before! You have to tell us if you’re a cop!”
First of all, that’s not true.
Second of all, my husband is a jerk.
My husband replies, “No, I’m not a cop. My awful brother is. How do you know my brother? Your boy is a narc. I’m not about to buy from a narc.”
The seller and his other friends beat up the guy who recognized my husband. My husband left the location unscathed.
#14 Helping The Hotel Sting
I used to work third shift at the front desk of a cheap hotel while I was in college. We had a shady couple check in and stay for about two weeks. Every night, we received calls for that room and we knew something was going on. One night, I walked in for work and my manager and the cops are waiting for me in the lobby. They informed me that Room 204 had been busted for dealing illicit substances out of the room.
They told me the cops were going to hang out all night in the room and when I received calls for that room, I was to send it on to them as if everything was normal. All night I received calls, forwarded them on, and I could see that ten minutes after each call, a car would drive past my lobby headed to that room. The cars would pull in, and the cops would pull out. Probably happened seven or eight times all night. Kind of fun being a small part of a bust like that.
#15 Hobocop Hero
A close family friend of mine worked for three years as an undercover homeless narcotics officer in a southern California beach city. He was born and raised in that city, so he fit in perfectly. He didn’t cut his hair or beard and wore a colorful poncho sweater every day. He was so good at it he refused several promotions and became known as “hobocop” around the department and family.
#16 Keeping The Enemy Close
I was an undercover officer. I regularly worked ruses because I don’t exactly look like I do what I do, and I was really really good at it.
The craziest thing I did was let the suspect get close enough to me to think he could influence me… He thought I was a dumb 20-something looking for a job. To be fair, he wasn’t a bad looking guy, but with what this guy did, it was a hard no. Selling him on being innocent and naive, I got layouts of his offices, the computer counts for evidence and seizure, and identified co-conspirators in the scheme.
The indictment was under seal so my identity was never revealed.
#17 Quite A Mouthful
My ex was an undercover officer. The craziest story I heard was when one of them had a gun shoved in their mouth when they refused to sample the product (the department had a strict policy about it). They were able to stall long enough to get to out of it.
Yes, the cops outside were losing it as they listened to it unfold.
The dude had been an undercover officer for a long time and was a heck of a talker. The guy with him at the time also kept their cool, so that helped.
If I remember right, SWAT hit the house the next day.
#18 Pulling Out The Theatrics
One time, I had a Hollywood special effects guy to rig me up with a squib and radio control remote under my clothes. I was supposed to get “shot” in a bust and have two of the connected individuals there to witness.
The facade was completed a couple months later, where I got an outpatient procedure to recreate a scar that looked like a bullet wound. About a year after that, I was re-inserted with so much cred, I made it all the way to upper management and helped bring the organization down.
#19 Crossing The Line
I had a teacher who spent 15 years doing undercover narcotics work. He once was asked to sample an illicit substance in front of the gang members to prove he wasn’t a cop. He said that he did it with no hesitation whatsoever, but had to report the incident to his superiors. The dude had some crazy stories.
#20 Taste The Rainbow
I don’t think not doing it would have blown my cover exactly, but I did end up at a weird party and went skinny dipping in a pool filled with Skittles. I could have reasonably ducked out, but I needed to build rapport with people.
#21 Momentary Relapse
When my best friend was a cop, he was also a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. While working undercover, he got into a situation where the perpetrator wanted to get drinks with him. This left him in a dilemma. He chose to drink and later was able to make the arrest. He wrote it off as a job requirement and was able to not use the scenario as a relapse. He’s been sober for over 25 years except for that one night while undercover.
#22 Hook And Catch
My mother was a Los Angeles police officer for most of the late ‘70s. Because she gives zero cares and is as hard as they come, she was selected to go undercover in the Hillside Strangler case and spent most of December 1977 and January 1978 pretending to be a night worker in and around Los Angeles. Basically, she would get gussied up and hang out in parks, looking to get picked up. She actually had a conversation with Bianchi, when he pulled up to check her out one night. She was too old (28 at the time) to fit their profile, and they didn’t take her.
She has an assortment of pretty crazy stories: Busting a PCP factory when she was eight months pregnant with me, dropping a handcuffed criminal on his face after he tried punching her, chasing gang members on foot through back alleys in South Central, neutralizing a hostage situation in which the perp claimed he was receiving messages from outer space. She’s pretty much my hero.
#23 No Recognition
My friend’s dad went undercover. He told me the scariest moment of his life was walking around a mall with his kid and being noticed by one of his “friends.” He talked his way out of the situation but ended up quitting the force altogether and moving.
He said the worst thing about being an undercover was that, despite having one of the worst jobs, you get no recognition. Nobody on the force knows who you are for the most part because you have to keep your identity unknown. He had to wear a mask when he trained. Having to keep up an identity takes a lot out of you.
#24 Six-Month Stint
My coworker, who participates in the highest level of undercover work in Canada, pretty much did what many consider to be the biggest thing you can do undercover.
He went to jail undercover to get an inmate to confess a murder. It took him about six months. Not even the guards knew he was a cop. This was about 15 years ago and he still claims he hasn’t heard his real name since then. His mail and car are both registered to the station. Pretty neat stuff.
#25 Shots Of Oil
I had a professor who was a colonel. He served overseas, working in embassies in Eastern Eurasian countries. He told my class about how he had to collect intel at some sort of dinner party function in one of those countries and was expected to keep up shot-for-shot with the partygoers as to not avoid suspicion.
In order to keep up with the Slavs, yet remain sober enough to do his job, he would down about a quarter cup of canola oil before attending the function to coat his stomach so he wouldn’t get tipsy too fast. He said it worked wonderfully, but all of the beverages would hit him like a brick house as soon as he got home from the party.
#26 Firing Blanks
I know a guy that used to work undercover for the DEA in Mexico. He infiltrated multiple cartels and managed to get lots of higher-ups arrested.
He told me about one occasion when some of the cartel leaders pulled him into a shed. There was a guy tied up on his knees in the middle of the floor. They said the guy on the floor was a mole who had leaked info to the cops. They gave him a revolver and told him that he was to take the gun and shoot the guy.
He was freaking out because up until that point, he hadn’t had to do anything nearly that violent. He knew he couldn’t blow his cover, so without hesitation, he walked up to the guy and pulled the trigger. The revolver was loaded with blanks. They wanted to test his loyalty because they suspected him of being an undercover cop. He ended up getting everyone there arrested a short time later.
#27 Best Friend’s Body
When I was in college, I took a course called organized crime. Our professor was an older cop who went undercover in the mob for 10 years. He was telling us that the hardest thing for him was when his mob boss brought his friend, who was another undercover cop, into a junkyard and ended him. He said he came back that night to recover the body.
#28 Amish Arrest
One of my dad’s friends had to dress like an Amish woman to catch a man who kept flashing the Amish women in our area. They got the guy a few towns over.
#29 In Too Deep
I worked as a forensic psychologist for over 15 years. Not long after I got started, there was a story in the newspaper about a young cop who had just graduated from the academy. He was already young, but he looked even younger than his actual age. His department decided to put him in schools to combat the growing illicit substances problem. He played a high school student interested in buying and dealing.
Apparently, all went well for a while, but then he started using illicit substances (this was in the very early ’80s). His habit got so bad that it was noticed by his superiors and he was arrested.
They sent him to us to see what went wrong and if he was responsible for being addicted. He looked so young and scared that I felt sorry for him. Not only was his career ruined, but he now had illicit substances charges and was in a psych hospital.
#30 Bad Guys And Soldiers
Without letting out too many details: I was undercover for about three months when the local head of a gang wanted a hit on a rival who was in the area short-term dealing. I was with one of his “soldiers” at the time. They were supposed to be about six minutes from us, so we headed there in an SUV to do the deed… just him and me.
My mind was racing trying to figure out how to not participate. Needless to say, when we got to the area, the rival was there and it just so happened that so were the local police. They were escorting him to the back of a police car. He was busted with a ton of illicit substances. We hurt nobody that day and the rival was locked away eventually. I’m not sure what would have happened had the local police department not arrested this guy, but I surely wasn’t going to hurt anybody. Talk about luck. I left soon after that and got a career in trucking. Worth it.
#31 Failed Photoshoot
A few years ago, a friend told me a story about his cousin who is a cop. He went undercover in Baltimore as a night worker trying to catch odd individuals and whatnot. One guy offered to pay to take nude pictures of her. She declined, not officially blowing her cover, but the jig was up and she was taken off the streets. Can’t blame her though, it’s a hard situation with very little workarounds.
#32 Rich For A Night
My dad was in the Baltimore police department working illicit substances with the DEA and he often went undercover. He always tells the story about these Russian brothers who bought a bunch of clubs downtown and ran a drug trafficking organization.
In order to create evidence that the brothers were doing this, the DEA gave my dad a Ferrari, a new suit, a Rolex, and a few thousand bucks in order to play a rich guy looking to get some illicit substances and party. He was wired and they got the evidence they needed for the case. The money was disposable, however, and he still got to have a good night.
#33 No Needles
A long time ago, I was working in a remote region, not in the USA. There was a former American guy who ran the place we were staying in. He told us a few stories about his time undercover. I didn’t realize at the time, but he could have been in witness protection. I won’t give any details about the city.
So he was a cop back in the ‘70s working an undercover operation in a biker gang that had a big illicit substances ring going. I got the feeling he was undercover for a couple of years at least. He made good friends with the main dealer in the gang. The dealer had a sweet mustang at the time, and they’d drive around the city together.
One day they were behind a school bus, and some girls in the back row were making eyes at them. At the next stop, the girls got off the bus and got in the Mustang. They took them back to the dealer’s place. I didn’t ask but I imagine the girls were maybe 17 or 18 years old.
I naively asked whether they had to take the illicit substances to keep their cover. He said his personal rule was no needles, but he’d do everything else the dealers were doing.
#34 The Naked Truth
My friend is an adult dancer who became a cop and then kept dancing undercover. She found out that drug dealers used the club for their meets. She thought everyone would have a negative reaction to her being an adult dancer but they were just so impressed that she had kept her secret for that long.
#35 Not Your Usual Initiation
I had to drink a cup of unknown liquid to pass a gang initiation.
#36 Missing Mickey Mouse
My uncle was an undercover cop in a biker gang. He used to wear a Mickey Mouse watch everywhere and forgot to wear it one day when he went out. One of the gang members stopped and grabbed his wrist to see if he was wearing the watch. They decided they were going to end the person wearing the Mickey Mouse watch because they had got wind he was an undercover cop. Luckily, he is still alive, but he had to get out of that place pretty quick after learning he was about to be hurt.
#37 Couple’s Codewords
This isn’t anything crazy but shows how that type of job you work impacts your personal life: the husband of a woman I knew was an undercover officer in a large but not massive suburban location. They had codewords when they went to like the grocery store in case he recognized someone and had to bail.
#38 Ball Kicker
My law teacher used to be a cop. He went undercover in an LGBT bar and was using the urinal. A tipsy man embraced him from behind as a joke. As he was concealing a pistol, he couldn’t take the risk, so he kicked the man behind him in his crotch. The man started crying. He felt terrible, but had to keep his cover.
#39 Homeless Salesman
My cousin who’s in secret services acted like an addict homeless beggar for surveillance purposes.
#40 Smelly Tracksuit
I know a guy who often went undercover as an addict. He was committed. He’d stop showering for a while before a gig before going in to work. He was so good that he managed to get the same dealer convicted twice in the space of a year and they never suspected he was the rat. He had multiple police records under different names too.
#41 Crazy Conversationalists
I worked as a transcriptionist for a while, and I transcribed some tape taken off of body mics of undercover officers working a very notorious domestic terrorism case. It was crazy! They would sound like an absolute backwoods hill people while talking to their marks, then later when talking to the other police officers, they would sound all business-like.
#42 A British Bond
I got to chatting with an ex-cop in an Irish bar in Baltimore. He had worked an undercover case before where he had to pretend he was a British businessman. Practiced the accent and all.
#43 Policing The Playground
I must have been 15 when one day the doorbell rang and I opened the door to two guys looking very much like real tough street guys. They showed me their badges and asked for my mom or dad. Turned out, they wanted to stake out a public playground behind our garden that was being used by some dealers for their mules.
There was a multi-story bank near the playground but the bank didn’t want anything to do with it. So they asked my parents whether they could set up a surveillance team on our terrace for a couple of days. My parents allowed it. My mom even prepared food for the guys all week long.
#44 Doing What’s Necessary
I’m a defense lawyer, not a cop. At least where I live, it is very rare to see actual cops doing undercover work where they are out meeting with targets. Illicit substances cases are almost always done using CIs that are working for them, not officers. The feds do some of that stuff with high-value targets (organized crime, high-level drug traffickers) but that is pretty rare in my experience.
I did meet a narcotics guy from NYPD a few years ago while on vacation. We were trading war stories in a bar and he said that he would do illicit substances on occasion if it was necessary to prove his bona fides while working undercover. He said it got reported as soon as he was out of the situation, and he was taken to the hospital for detox. Sounded legit to me but who knows. He had a badge and looked like a biker.
#45 Dad Was Just Acting
I grew up in Pennsylvania, and a family that commuted from another state moved in a few homes down from us. The kids from the family were not really my age (they much younger), so I didn’t really hang around them too much. Their dad always struck me as a little weird, and I wasn’t really sure about him.
One day, he started coming home dressed up like a professional wrestler. He had tattoos and such. He put on probably 40 lbs and went from being some skinny dude to being a muscle-bound freak of nature. He even grew his hair out into a mullet. I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Then, after about a year, I saw him come home completely clean cut and in a suit. Apparently, he was an undercover cop busting an underground professional wrestling league.
#46 Didn’t Work Out
An undercover cop in my hometown was in pretty deep with some high-profile dealers and dangerous people.
I attended this gym and got the details from my personal trainer. The story is he was working out with one of the kingpin dudes and a girl he used to date approached him saying, “She wished he was in uniform because he was cuter,” or something along the lines of that—she had no idea he was undercover.
I guess he called his wife in the bathroom at the gym and said he was a dead man.
Sad, sad, sad.