Narcs and Weapons
Greg Ferency / SWAT Digest
As a drug enforcement officer / detective working undercover (UC) is the grass roots of what we do. This can be as complex as interjecting yourself into an organization or as simple as pretending to be a drunk passed out of a bench in order to conduct some type of strategic surveillance. Either way you are pretending to be someone you are not and have to alter your tactical options accordingly. Due to operational security it would not be prudent for me to go into to much detail on this subject on an open website. But, there are a few things that that can be addressed that are relevant.
Obviously, as a UC you cannot go into operational situations with a gun belt containing all the tricks of the trade. At most your only weapon is going to be some type of firearm. What that weapon is and how you carry it could be the difference between life and death of the UC. With everything going on during a UC buy it is a challenge to stay in the UC mindset and remain as tactically sound as you can. Often, someone else dictates situations, positions and surprises are always around the corner.
Just keep this in mind when you are operating in a UC capacity. The bad guy (or gal) always has the first shot. You are going to be reacting to everything else that they do at or toward you. He (or she) knows what they are going to do and you have to react to their actions. In other words – they hold all the advantages when the shooting starts. This is especially true during a rip and the bad guy (or gal) comes into the situation with a plan already in hand.
As we all know all UC operations have some type of security and support by other officers within the unit or team. But, keep in mind they will be reacting to the situation also and there are going to be very few instances where they will be able to effectively keep the UC from harm within a certain time frame. When you get right down to it the UC is going to be on there own for a certain amount of time.
Most drug enforcement related shooting incidents happen within three to six seconds. It takes some people that long to say ouch after stepping on a nail – let alone recognizing a gun is being pulled, pulling theirs and getting off a relevant shot. Now imagine a cover team seeing or hearing the conflict and conducting some type of intervention in that allotted time span. Odds are no matter how well trained the cover team is three to six seconds will not be long enough for a positive outcome for the UC.
Having said all that there are a precautions and tactical maneuvers that we can do to give us a fighting chance. Here are a few things I have learned from others and during my tour in the narc unit.
If possible carry a weapon that is not issued by your department – those involved in the drug culture do intelligence gathering on us too. This is especially true of methamphetamine dealers. Some may recognize the make and model of your gun as the area departments issued weapon. I know some of the hardcore Glock and 1911 people will have a problem with this one. Note: This is mostly for long term UC operation where the bad guys (and gals) may even expect the UC to be carrying a gun.
Keep in mind that you will not be going into the situation wearing a gun belt. If you are used to drawing your weapon from a holster on your side, you will probably try to do the same out of instinct if something other than peaceful goes down.
Carry your weapon on you at all times in the manner that would have it during the UC operation. Carry it while you cut the grass – carry it while sitting and watching TV – carry it when you clean the house. There is a reason for this. People often are self conscious about where their gun is on their bodies. They seem to constantly touch it, pull on it and do everything else they possibly can to give away the fact that they are armed – sometimes (if not often) they do it without even knowing it. Wearing the gun constantly during menial chores will help you get used to it being there. Use this tip to watch the bad guys (and gals) they may exhibit the same signs that they are carrying.
Make it a point to draw the gun from its location on your body. Obviously, do this with the weapon unloaded and preferably when nobody else is at home. This will save you the chance of hurting anyone from accidental discharges – even when we know we unloaded it. And maybe even save you some embarrassing moments if you get caught standing in front of the mirror – drawing your gun and diving “for cover” behind the bed.
There are several other issues to address with this type of article. But, again for reasons I gave earlier I should leave them off the open web. If you have any questions regarding this feel free to contact me and we will figure a way to get you the information – probably mail with agency letterhead.
SWATdigest – Senior Editor