Becoming a Narc
Greg Ferency / SWAT Digest
I was transferred to the local Drug Task Force in January 1996. I was straight out of the uniform division and I can now admit that my drug enforcement experience was limited to pulling a little bit of dope out of someone’s pocket after an unrelated arrest. After I was transferred I asked myself what was I stepping into. Here is something that was even more of a challenge. Every single person who transferred to the Drug Task Force with me was new to this type of police work. We were all rookies again. I felt like a fish out of water to say the least. Everything that I was used to doing as a uniformed police officer went out the window. No more wearing cop related clothing. No more hanging in the parking lots with the officers. No more telling other people that I met for the first time that I was a proud member of the law enforcement community. Everything that I was used to and comfortable with as a police officer was about to change.
Even the case files required on felony drug arrests intimidated the hell out of me. As a uniform officer anything over three pages of writing was considered a long report. These case files were a whole new ballgame – they looked like novels. My first thought was that there was no way I was going to be able to write and put one of these things together. My second thought was that my drug enforcement career was going to be the shortest in history.
Fortunately, the supervisor that was transferred with us had some dope cop experience in his past and we quickly followed his lead. We learned that the case files were not as bad as they appeared. We learned how to develop and run informants. In other words we learned the basics. With everyone being new to the unit we had one very slight advantage. We developed a working relationship and style that was all our own. We started branching off into specialties that interested us the most. As good luck would have it we were not all interested in the same aspects of narcotics work. I ventured in the undercover (UC) operations. Not that I was looking for any extra excitement or the mystic of being a UC. I just quickly learned that the reports were much easier to write and the cases were stronger against the defendants. I grew out the hair, got the tattoos and did everything else that I thought I needed to become an effective UC. By the end of 1998 I looked like a roadie for Led Zeppelin on the ’77 tour.
As a new narc you must realize that we operate in three different types of environments / stages – high profile, medium profile and low profile. The narc must be able to operate in all three stages with minimal difficulty and they may transfer over from one to another in a matter of minutes.