Published May 29, 2016
We see a lot of great personalities come through the center week after week sharing endless experiences from their jobs. In one of our recent classes, one Nigerian participant recounted a story from earlier in her law enforcement career. This story is rife with lessons, especially to junior agents who are eager to impress and do well on the job. We hope you enjoy the read!
“This happened a long time ago, a few months, after I had been enlisted as a law enforcement agent. You can imagine- I had recently completed my training and I was eager to impress my superiors. I had so many ambitious goals and I was full of energy, always waiting to be called to work on the big cases. Well, I had the enviable opportunity to be called upon to work on an undercover case. As a team, we were so focused on doing an impressive job, that we did not really have a good operational plan. This brings me to Lesson One: Always ensure you have an operational plan before you go into any case. Work out all the details with your team and make sure everyone understands the plan really well. Go over the details as many times as you can, and try and envisage possible hindrances that may occur. Everyone should also be assigned clear roles.
In my undercover role, I interacted with the suspect and gained his confidence over time. During this period my team was doing surveillance on us and after a few days, it was time to arrest the suspect because we had gathered enough evidence. On the day of the apprehension, my team mate who was leading the arrest, came and arrested all of us. It was never in the operational plan to arrest me as well, but before I realized, I had also been handcuffed! The actual suspect tried to resist arrest and attempted to hit the other officer. Before I realized, my colleague mistakenly hit me across the face! In my surprise, I immediately asked him, “Why are you hitting me instead, (insert colleagues name)?” before I had realized I had mentioned his real name! The suspect was therefore confused and asked me how I knew the officer. Not wanting to blow my cover, I quickly mumbled an excuse and tried to salvage the situation. We were all taken to the station for further questioning, and that’s where I was set free.
Lesson two: Stick to the plan. In our brief operational meeting, it was never mentioned that my colleague would arrest me. We only said he would arrest the suspect, as I was not implicated in the case. I was therefore taken aback when he arrested me as well, which caused me to react the way I did. Also there was no proper briefing by the team to ensure that everyone goes according to plan. And even after the incident, there was no formal debriefing as well. It is very necessary to do this, to evaluate the operation so we learn from our mistakes.
Lesson three: At the crime scene anything can happen. Given the way things went on our operation, I can say that I did not anticipate my handcuffing. The reason why I got upset and called out my colleague’s name is because we were in a public area, and being a highly respected member of society, I did not want anyone to see me being handcuffed! At the time my reputation was more important to me than the case. This could mean keeping your cool, when unexpected things happen and reacting quickly to salvage the operation. Thankfully I have matured as an agent and I am in a better position to handle my undercover operations expertly!”
What a great story! Please, do share your experiences with us at (firstname.lastname@example.org) as they contain valuable lessons that we can all learn from!