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Privacy and Police Undercover Work (From Ethics - Hard Choices in Law Enforcement, P 133-150, 1985, by William C Heffernan and Timothy Stroup, eds. - See NCJ- 100351)

NCJ Number
F D Schoeman
Date Published
18 pages
The undercover investigation of any one person by any one agency for more than 24 hours should require a court-approved warrant, and deceptive intrusion into intimate personal relationships to detect crimes and obtain evidence should be prohibited, because this undermines important social values.
Public-place surveillance (staking out a public area for any evidence of criminal behavior) does not require any restrictions. Private-place surveillance (entry into a person's home based on an invitation solicited through deception) should require a warrant unless the invitation is based on prior contact with the suspect and the invitation is for the express purpose of committing a crime. Person surveillance (targeting specific persons for investigation) to detect crime or obtain incriminating evidence should require a warrant based on reasonable suspicion. Intimate surveillance (deception is used to cultivate a relationship of trust and caring that goes beyond a business relationship) should be prohibited entirely. Such an exploitation of trust and intimacy flouts social values attached to such relationships (e.g., marriage, love relationships, and priest-confessor relationship). The exclusionary rule should apply to evidence obtained in violation of the aforementioned parameters for undercover activity. 20 notes.