Comments: 561 • Responses: 118 • Date: 2015-02-24 23:43:18 UTCsource
Smatter_Witchoo77 karma2015-02-24 23:49:57 UTC
Is it hard seeing where you're going with the blue tape on your face?
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Weightlessone90 karma2015-02-25 00:30:20 UTC
You get used to it after awhile. It heightens the other senses.
i_kill_dinosaurs28 karma2015-02-25 01:22:46 UTC
Hey! First of all thank you for doing this IAMA. And sorry for the assholes that are giving you a hard time. What was the best part being undercover? And why did you decide to do it?
Weightlessone32 karma2015-02-25 01:26:07 UTC
The best part of being undercover was seeing a segment of people that I never even realized existed. I was a goodie two shoes growing up, so it was amazing for me to see how a whole new group of people live.
I was a hostage negotiator before I went undercover, and when I was approached by the Drug Task Force after a successful negotiation they really put the thought in my head. I have always been really good at talking to people, so it seemed like a really good use of my skills.
eyedealsurvivor14 karma2015-02-25 03:23:15 UTC
So, as a cop, promotions are gained by topical merits in the field (generally)? Was your strength in empathy and communication what brought you to hostage negotiations in the first place? Or is it like an inter-department job application type of process?
p.s. Very intriguing AMA, thank you for taking the time to do this; as a writer I really appreciate your insight.
Weightlessone27 karma2015-02-25 03:28:36 UTC
I have a masters degree in communications, and because I was a military brat I moved every couple years, so I was really good at meeting new people. There is a tryout to become a hostage negotiator, and you have to be recommended to try out. Luckily I was recommended because due to my degrees I was able to teach crisis intervention training (CIT) to officers and civilians who worked in certain fields. I knew from the day I started law enforcement I wanted to be in Hostage negotiation and I did everything in my power to stand out in that realm.
If you want to be a hostage negotiator I suggest you go to EVERY training you can that teaches you how to nonviolently resolve a situation.
remedialrob30 karma2015-02-25 05:14:59 UTC
If you want to be a hostage negotiator good cop I suggest you go to EVERY training you can that teaches you how to nonviolently resolve a situation.
If you want to be a hostage negotiator good cop I suggest you go to EVERY training you can that teaches you how to nonviolently resolve a situation.
Fixed that for ya.
Weightlessone27 karma2015-02-25 05:51:59 UTC
Comrey27 karma2015-02-25 04:02:25 UTC
What is the most extreme thing you've experienced while being undercover?
What is the most extraordinary thing you've experienced undercover?
And lastly, were there moments where you were genuinely enjoying yourself, looking at the people you were (for lack of a better term) deceiving as actual friends?
I couldn't decide on a question so I just asked all three, sorry!
Weightlessone51 karma2015-02-25 04:08:14 UTC
I think the most extreme thing I saw was one drug dealer attempt to execute one of his subordinates, and the bullet hit the guy in the skull and rode under the skin and came out the front. So on first glance it looked like the shot went straight through his head, but it had really never gone more than just under the skin. He had a bad concussion and one hell of a headache, but he literally ran away from the scene. That was probably the most extraordinary thing I saw as well.
I genuinely enjoyed myself all the time, but it would be difficult to call anyone a friend if you couldn't be yourself around them.
I appreciate all your questions.
Comrey10 karma2015-02-25 04:28:18 UTC
Thanks for your answers! It must have been quite a scene, wow. I cannot even imagine what was going through the mind of the subordinate (lucky for him it wasn't the bullet, har har) once he realised he survived against all odds and should get the hell out.
As for the friend part, I see where you're coming from.
Quick follow up question, I take it in your line of work you've seen people killed, and judging from responses to other questions, you value human life (even 'bad guys') greatly. How do you cope with all of this brutality, all these things you've seen and cannot un-see?
Weightlessone28 karma2015-02-25 04:30:06 UTC
You don't really cope, you just get through it. I am a very strong Christian so that helps me considerably, but understandably not everyone has that as a coping mechanism.
InFaDeLiTy4 karma2015-02-25 08:25:25 UTC
So what are you supposed to do undercover if you witness someone murdered?
Weightlessone10 karma2015-02-25 08:31:08 UTC
I have had this once. You do everything in your power to prevent the murder, in my case I totally blew my cover and tackled the guy. This is actually the same story I told earlier about the person who had the bullet ride their skull and not kill them. It didn't even register with me that the guy had lived even though I saw him run off. I was totally focused on getting the gun away from the shooter.
ryuujinusa5 karma2015-02-25 14:55:57 UTC
So after you blew your cover... What happened?
Weightlessone6 karma2015-02-25 19:52:33 UTC
The cover team could hear me struggling with the guy so they came in and arrested him. The guy never even realized that I was a cop, I think he just thought I was trying to save that guys life, and that the cops had hit his place in a raid. The whole instance was so fast and crazy, I don't think any of us really knew what happened until way later.
Benlightenment5 karma2015-02-25 14:58:15 UTC
Is this a thing... are you bound by law to break your cover and try and prevent it? Could you be charged if you don't?
Weightlessone6 karma2015-02-25 19:50:08 UTC
I don't know if I was bound by law, but the whole point of working undercover is preventing crime, it wouldn't do us much good to watch people die in the name of an arrest down the road. The prosecution would be plenty thrilled to prosecute an attempted murder instead of a drug related offence.
zdakz20 karma2015-02-25 00:12:57 UTC
Did you make any friends you wished you didn’t? or was it all part of the job
Weightlessone50 karma2015-02-25 00:20:04 UTC
Actually I met alot of people who were really good people, they just got stuck doing things they didn't like about themselves, and found out they were really good at it. I don't think selling drugs makes you a bad person, but I wish people could see all the hurt that it does to people who can't control their addiction.
retsnomis16 karma2015-02-25 01:12:45 UTC
Marijuana legalization--what are your thoughts?
Weightlessone76 karma2015-02-25 01:15:04 UTC
I can't wait for them to legalize it. I would rather interact with a million stoned people then one drunk person, and I imagine every cop feels the exact same way. They lead us to believe that Marijuana would be federally legal in 2020, they would legalize it sooner, but politics got in the way.
retsnomis6 karma2015-02-25 01:35:33 UTC
Is your reason for wanting legalization solely to have less trouble when dealing with people you interact with? What are your thoughts when people are busted for relatively small amounts of marijuana possession under the three-strikes-law?
Weightlessone32 karma2015-02-25 01:40:15 UTC
My state did not have a three strikes law, and to be honest many states with a three strikes law do not enforce it at all. The justice system is so different from district to district it would not be fair for me to comment on that.
The legalization of marijuana should be done because keeping it illegal makes people think that all drugs are as relatively side effect free as marijuana. To put meth and marijuana in the same category is just idiotic.
doctorsawbones7 karma2015-02-25 03:55:04 UTC
it seems you know a lot about drugs. what are the most dangerous ones out there because all i know is that the school taught us that all drugs are bad and only hurt you while cigerattes and alcohal arent terrible
Weightlessone21 karma2015-02-25 03:57:41 UTC
In my experience the worst (common) drugs are Meth and PCP. There are other drugs that are just as bad or worse such as Krokodil, but they are not very common.
Shivadxb5 karma2015-02-25 05:17:57 UTC
follow up qu. Is krokodil likely to take off in America or will it remain a fringe drug? How is it seen in the drug community?
Weightlessone14 karma2015-02-25 05:51:06 UTC
It is unlikely to take off in America because to even the poorest segments of society there are more potent drugs available. Krokdil is most abundant in Russia in places where there is not a very generous social welfare system that props up drug abuse among the poorest tier of society.
thatscentaurtainment3 karma2015-02-25 03:44:15 UTC
They lead us to believe that Marijuana would be federally legal in 2020
They lead us to believe that Marijuana would be federally legal in 2020
Who is the "they" in that sentence?
Weightlessone12 karma2015-02-25 03:46:20 UTC
Higher ranking people in the Federal Department of Justice, but it is just opinions of other people who get paid more than I did.
reddityogi16 karma2015-02-25 03:21:04 UTC
Did you get arrested as a part of the cover?
Weightlessone29 karma2015-02-25 03:24:10 UTC
Yes, but I never went to jail. They just let you go back at the station.
Crafty-Bastard12 karma2015-02-25 03:38:55 UTC
Doesn't this look suspicious that you get off so easily? If everyone you arrested serves time and you go on your merry way?
Weightlessone39 karma2015-02-25 03:44:58 UTC
lol, if you went through the criminal justice system you would realize how common it is for someone to get arrested and only spend a night in jail. People as a whole have very little understanding of the criminal justice system, it is very disturbing.
retsnomis13 karma2015-02-25 00:44:38 UTC
Technical question: are you required by law to reveal your identity when asked?
Weightlessone55 karma2015-02-25 00:47:27 UTC
Not at all. I have no idea why people think that, but we are more than happy to have them believe it. I used to see them check other people to see if they were cops, and I heard the absolute dumbest reasoning ever. I heard "cops don't have tattoo's", "Cops don't have earings", "they don't send white guys undercover". Alot of bad information is going around to drug dealers, and cops aren't about to inform them otherwise.
moonera13 karma2015-02-25 03:23:27 UTC
Weightlessone44 karma2015-02-25 03:32:40 UTC
Yeah, I hesitated to answer this one, but then everyone would think cops only worry about the next bust. People need to know their rights.
Rebfan7 karma2015-02-25 06:58:59 UTC
What can't cops do? I was told once they can't buy you drinks.
Weightlessone20 karma2015-02-25 07:00:31 UTC
It really depends on the departments policy, there isn't a strict guideline. It's pretty universal that we can't make other people use drugs.
retsnomis12 karma2015-02-25 00:47:03 UTC
How has being an undercover detective affected your familial life?
For what reasons would you recommend this career for others, and for what reasons, might you advise against it?
Weightlessone18 karma2015-02-25 00:52:09 UTC
It kills your family life, like I said earlier it lead to me getting a divorce, and then moving all the way across the country, just so I didn't bump into the people I used to associate with. I luckily don't have any kids, I can't even imagine what it would be like with kids. I know that some guys with kids even teach their kids their fake name, (although I always figured "dad" would work for both). I was never super close to my family before hand so it didn't effect me as bad as others.
colin865111 karma2015-02-25 05:16:32 UTC
Do you have backup when you are undercover?
Weightlessone20 karma2015-02-25 05:51:38 UTC
Always. My team was a minimum of five additional guys, sometimes as many as 30 depending on what I was doing.
Dickson0211 karma2015-02-24 23:53:53 UTC
Thanks for doing a tough job. Ive been a 3rd party to an undercover operation. I used to work in a hotel and there was some drug dealing going on. The DEA had an undercover guy there for about 6 months. Got to know him as a dishwasher and an all around decent guy. My question is: There will always be "that guy" that is wrapped up in some nefarious stuff, but is harmless, wouldnt hurt a fly, and is just trying to get by and make a little extra by putting someone in touch with someone else...you prob know these guys too, how hard is it to look someone in the eye and tell them you are a cop and everything they confided, everything they said to you...will be in a court case? 2nd quest: Have you ever let someone know just before the bust? Gave them the heads up it was going down and to clear their shit up and GTFO?
Weightlessone23 karma2015-02-25 00:05:28 UTC
They really try to shield you from the confrontation that comes when you reveal you are a cop, but there have been a few I wanted to explain to. The only time I ever tipped anyone off was when I was investigating a place across the street from a day care and we drive by before the SWAT team hits the house. I saw the kids playing out front and went and asked the day care person to get them inside. I stayed with them while the SWAT team hit so I knew the daycare person couldn't tip off the dealer.
Dickson029 karma2015-02-25 00:09:13 UTC
Cheers man. Hope you find some stability in your personal relationships and best of luck in your new career, whatever you choose. Peace
Weightlessone8 karma2015-02-25 00:32:08 UTC
Thanks, I appreciate any help you gave to the undercover, whether you knew it or not.
TheExtremeChef210 karma2015-02-25 01:24:09 UTC
Are you allowed to break laws undercover?
Weightlessone19 karma2015-02-25 01:31:01 UTC
Yes to some extent, but we do everything in our power not to.
sunflower_sungoddess5 karma2015-02-25 02:14:44 UTC
Can you give some examples of laws you are allowed to break??
edit: misspelled "you"
Weightlessone24 karma2015-02-25 02:20:08 UTC
Well obviously buying and selling drugs. The most common one I broke was open container, if you are drinking no one thinks you are a cop (which is hilarious because almost every cop I know drinks). You still never hurt people, unless you are attacked, and we honestly don't break that many laws. I know television makes it look otherwise, but high level drug dealers are more business men than thugs so there wasn't much requirement to break laws by robbing people or breaking into places.
Shivadxb8 karma2015-02-25 05:28:43 UTC
Are these guys holding down "normal" jobs, running front companies or what? The high level stuff is always interesting because part from
Illegal it's always struck me that these guys would probably be good at any normal business as well
Weightlessone10 karma2015-02-25 05:43:35 UTC
Many of them were. Most of them had shell businesses that they used to launder money. Some of them were incredible business men who likely would have succeeded at anything they put their mind to.
Shivadxb6 karma2015-02-25 05:54:39 UTC
See that's what gets me about these guys. Ok so a few wrong turns in life and suddenly your importing by the ton but at that level you've got to be smart and successful to get there and stay there so why not go legit as soon as you can
Weightlessone16 karma2015-02-25 05:56:10 UTC
As much as I hate to plug a TV show, breaking bad did a good job of showing just how easy a quick shortcut turns into a life destroying decision.
Shivadxb5 karma2015-02-25 05:59:17 UTC
Absolutely but these guys are clearly smart or they a) not be at the top levels and or b) be dead.
So why not use those smarts to get out and go legit?
There must be at least a few nobody knows about who were smart enough to do that, left no evidence and just walked away as effectively innocent people. I don't mean people suspected but not proven but people who just sailed right under everyone's radar and away.
Weightlessone10 karma2015-02-25 06:02:28 UTC
I am sure there are tons of those people. The trick is staying off the radar. As long as you don't tick off your neighbors or your customers I would imagine you could go a very long time without getting caught. I can't tell you how many people have dabbled in selling and then got out once they made some money, because we never caught those guys, and they aren't self reporting.
Beautifulderanged10 karma2015-02-25 00:18:33 UTC
Hello. Do you think essentially pretending to be someone else for two years has changed you in any way? Has your forced behaviour left scars on your persona?
Weightlessone18 karma2015-02-25 00:23:25 UTC
It most certainly changed me. That was why I couldn't got back to being a cop when my assignment ended. I think I now have a way more understanding view of why people do things, and can do my best to see both sides of any argument. I will most certainly never be the same, I just hope it is for the best.
HKShwa5 karma2015-02-25 06:03:22 UTC
Do you mean that your understanding of why people do things is the reason you can no longer be a cop? If so, can I ask you to please elaborate? Personally I think this ability is critical skill for law enforcement.
Weightlessone14 karma2015-02-25 06:06:35 UTC
No. Just because you understand why people do things does not mean that you think people should do things. The whole culture of law enforcement and the entire legal system have quite a bit of flaws which is what ultimately had me decide that I could not be a part of it anymore. Almost like my morals kept me from upholding morals. I know that makes no sense, I am only human after all.
Manky_Dingo5 karma2015-02-25 06:48:19 UTC
What kind of psychological help does the police force in your country provide people in your position?
I'm in Australia but I remember a number of years ago seeing a court case where some undercover cops who infiltrated bikie clubs for years were trying to get compensation from the government because they didn't feel that they got enough counselling to deal with the stresses of the job. Some of their experiences made me realise that people like you have to deal with some tough situations and regular psychological assistance would be very beneficial to keep your sanity.
Weightlessone8 karma2015-02-25 06:56:38 UTC
you have free psychological help as long as you are employed. The whole in coverage comes when you retire or leave law enforcement, then you have no psychological support.
Manky_Dingo4 karma2015-02-25 07:08:17 UTC
That's a shame. Thanks for your answer, I sort of expected there to be some type of 'exit therapy' where they make sure you're doing alright for maybe a year after you leave the position.
Weightlessone3 karma2015-02-25 07:09:31 UTC
you do an exit interview which they ask you your opinions on the department the week before you leave, but it isn't really about you it's about the department.
Kyleeboo10 karma2015-02-24 23:49:14 UTC
Who did you bust?
Did you ever commit a crime so you wouldn't blow your cover?
Were you a high school narc?
Did you shoot anybody?
Weightlessone32 karma2015-02-24 23:55:37 UTC
I mostly investigated Cocaine, but I investigated Molly and Spice as well. They really frown on you committing crimes in order to keep your cover, so I mostly just got really good at talking to people, I was a hostage negotiator before I went undercover so I was already really good at convincing people to see things my way.
I was not a High school narc, but some of the people I investigated used high schoolers to deliver narcotics for them because they knew the high schoolers would get lighter sentences.
As far as shooting people I never had to, thank God. I took guns out of peoples hands who were trying to shoot me (we train for that alot) and I pulled my gun on people, but I never had to actually shoot someone. Although a few times I should have, and actually had some other detectives tell me I was nuts for not shooting people, but it doesn't do you much good to spend two years investigating someone just to kill them.
sweetpea1229 karma2015-02-25 03:41:06 UTC
What is spice?
Weightlessone11 karma2015-02-25 03:43:34 UTC
it is a drug that was once marketed as a "legal marijuana" it is the drug that people keep eating peoples faces while they are on it.
sweetpea12213 karma2015-02-25 03:45:46 UTC
Like super intense munchies, but instead of snacks it's faces?
Weightlessone15 karma2015-02-25 03:48:34 UTC
never thought of it like that. I wish I had asked someone about that, lol
sweetpea1227 karma2015-02-25 04:02:48 UTC
There are some scary drugs, like that crocodile stuff people were doing for awhile. Ewww, how do people come up with this shit?
Weightlessone9 karma2015-02-25 04:04:36 UTC
It is easy to come up with stuff when you realize people are buying it. We wouldn't have any drug dealers if no one bought them. The internet has made the creation of new drugs super easy and has led to the creation of many new drugs.
sweetpea1227 karma2015-02-25 04:09:21 UTC
Yeah but gas in your veins? Thats the stupidest idea out there
Weightlessone8 karma2015-02-25 04:12:35 UTC
Preaching to the choir.
Rebfan1 karma2015-02-25 06:53:25 UTC
Cite one incident of someone on spice eating a face.
It's a terrible, horrible drug, and it ot exists because of the criminalization of safer drugs, but I've read a few face eating incidents, and they all seem to be blamed on drugs initially but not actually the case after toxicologies are done.
Anyone you've seen harmed by spice is a direct victim of people like you. You are the problem.
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 06:58:10 UTC
wow that escalated quickly. I didn't think I was harming anyone on spice, but I guess you know better than me.
Kra_gl_e9 karma2015-02-25 03:36:12 UTC
You were a hostage negotiator? What made you decide to switch into detective work? Does that background help you in any other way?
Weightlessone16 karma2015-02-25 03:39:05 UTC
I actually didn't have to switch. I was able to do both at the same time. It isn't like you are constantly getting called to negotiate with someone, I probably did around one negotiation a month, as long as it didn't interfere with what I was doing undercover.
Ghejt6 karma2015-02-25 03:01:16 UTC
Could you give some examples as to when you should have shot someone but didn't?
Weightlessone25 karma2015-02-25 03:06:46 UTC
I once had a person pull a gun on my confidential informant in the middle of a deal. I grabbed the gun and said the code word which brought my cover team in. When my cover team came in we were still wrestling over the gun, so they could not shoot him for fear of shooting me. He shot a few rounds into the wall, but it could have just as easily been someone else in the room who was hit. I will not say that I wish I had shot him, but I know if he had killed one of the police coming inside or te CS I would never have forgiven myself.
Happy-Bullfrog3 karma2015-02-25 09:39:14 UTC
He who controls the spice controls the universe.
Weightlessone7 karma2015-02-25 09:45:07 UTC
I know very little of the spice trade outside of our own solar system, but if you know of universal spice trade you should do an AMA.
Shivadxb2 karma2015-02-25 05:18:54 UTC
Not sure if brave or crazy!
Weightlessone4 karma2015-02-25 05:48:32 UTC
Digital_House_Fire9 karma2015-02-25 03:00:37 UTC
I've gone through an undercover operation once too. It was definitely an experience and a half, and I was only involved for a few months. For you, was it difficult to keep your identity a secret for that long?
Weightlessone17 karma2015-02-25 03:04:17 UTC
not really, I was high level so it isn't like you have alot of street drug users digging into your background everyday. Thank you for your service, I am sure you are getting alot of flack from the public, I know it makes it very difficult to do your job.
Digital_House_Fire6 karma2015-02-25 03:07:26 UTC
I appreciate that. But for the most part my co-workers are great, very supportive people. Anytime there's a problem one of us finds a way to handle it. Being a detective in a large city is complicated, but we somehow manage.
Weightlessone7 karma2015-02-25 03:08:31 UTC
I feel you. Just don't let them get in your head. That is what ultimately lead to me getting out. Stay strong.
Digital_House_Fire2 karma2015-02-25 03:11:12 UTC
Thank you very much. I'm only 28, so sometimes the job does get really stressful.
Weightlessone8 karma2015-02-25 03:12:58 UTC
If it was easy everyone could do it. The biggest reason I am doing this is so people see we aren't just monsters snatching up children in the night.
Riko32239 karma2015-02-25 06:12:41 UTC
How did you mentally prepare yourself to be something you're not?
Weightlessone10 karma2015-02-25 06:15:46 UTC
Good question. Uhhh.....Not enough. There really isn't any way to prepare yourself. The first few times you go undercover it is to do small stuff to make sure you can even do it, (Go buy drugs on the street corner) but then you kinda get thrown to the wolves.
pricear8 karma2015-02-25 00:04:37 UTC
Thank you for your service. What's the scariest situation you have been in to date?
Weightlessone29 karma2015-02-25 00:16:46 UTC
Alot of the really crazy stories the fear doesn't hit you until afterwards. The most scared I remember being while something was happening was when a low level dealer snapped and just started shooting people. He ran into this house that looked like something from silence of the lambs, all the power was out and the windows were boarded up, he was still shooting people (he shot 12 in total) so I chased him into this house, not realizing it was a place he used to stash stolen stuff. I was following with nothing, but a handgun and the flashlight it was on, and I knew he was somewhere in the house, but I couldn't see him anywhere. While walking down the hallway, there was a body of someone he had killed earlier in the day laying across the hallway, I had to step over the body as I continued after him. Right as I stepped over the body a phone that was on the body rang, I think I jumped 12 feet in the air. The guy who was shooting people killed himself a few seconds later when he saw me coming around the corner.
thatbluesyguy6 karma2015-02-25 06:06:07 UTC
Definition of badass: charges into silence of the lambs house, chasing after a guy who just killed 12 people.
Weightlessone21 karma2015-02-25 06:07:27 UTC
I sure didn't feel like a badass. If I had a picture of me jumping over that body I would be an internet sensation for life.
random_curiosity8 karma2015-02-24 23:50:28 UTC
Were you ever in fear for your life? What happened?
Weightlessone23 karma2015-02-25 00:08:25 UTC
I was in fear for my life a bunch of times. You train to work through it. I got locked in a small apartment with about eight thugs (can't think of a better term) while they called the person I had used as my reference to get in. He was so high when they called him that he just said "yeah I know him we go way back". I thanked him later when we arrested him, but he had no Idea what for.
random_curiosity8 karma2015-02-25 03:03:33 UTC
Great story. Glad you made it through ok.
Weightlessone9 karma2015-02-25 03:07:36 UTC
Thanks so am I.
yellowbana8 karma2015-02-25 04:20:13 UTC
Under what circumstances do you take pictures? Most ridiculous case you had to solve (summarize it plainly, in case it sounds like it invades privacy)?
Weightlessone25 karma2015-02-25 04:26:09 UTC
Everything I did was video recorded. As far as the most ridiculous case I have worked I am still minimized for so I am not able to share the details.
Th most ridiculous one that I can talk about was a coke dealer who kept nine or ten gay servants around to wait on him. He made them all do chores shirtless all day long. He raised exotic animals and had some of the coolest animals I have ever seen, but it was totally weird to walk around his (for lack of a better word) sex palace, and discuss business with a bunch of shirtless young men walking around.
cbrdude5 karma2015-02-25 07:38:09 UTC
Just curious, how was it recorded? Did you have one of those movie-style shirtbutton cameras? Thanks. All The best.
Weightlessone14 karma2015-02-25 07:43:52 UTC
we had a camera and a seperate listening device. I am not going to tell you what they look like, but honestly you could hold one in your hand and not realize what you had.
cbrdude4 karma2015-02-25 08:02:19 UTC
Damn sounds cool! Thanks for the reply man.
Weightlessone8 karma2015-02-25 08:28:54 UTC
thanks for your excitement. It is nice to know some people think it is cool, and not that I am the devil in disguise.
yuckyuck136 karma2015-02-25 04:56:28 UTC
How much input do you have in convictions? I only ask because not all criminals are bad dangerous people just decent people making bad choices even when they choices have a good reason behind them.
Weightlessone8 karma2015-02-25 04:58:59 UTC
Great Question. We don't have input on conviction, but we do have input on prosecution. Ultimately it is a corroboration between a detective and state/federal/district attorney that decides if charges will be pursued at all. They do this so that we are able to get confidential informants.
yuckyuck134 karma2015-02-25 05:36:03 UTC
I full heartedly appreciate what you and other undercover agents do. Confidential informants are helpful in breaking down dangerous organisations and catching those who deserve to be in prison. I sadly must disagree with some police tactics. A lot of police distrust and hatred, you probably can verify that some if not most has to do with prosecution, but sending small time non violent criminals to extended prison sentences isn't solving the problem. I have a few family members, friends, and coworkers, who are condemned by the law for minor crimes and are compared to serious criminals. Possession of a small amount of Marijuana isn't comparable to rape or murder. Not all criminals are dangerous. I hope you keep up the hard work, not a lot of people are willing to put themselves in the situations you're in.
Weightlessone7 karma2015-02-25 05:41:51 UTC
Thank you. I truly agree that the justice system is in desperate need of repair. It is an extremely unfair system, and it would take a very powerful politician to overhaul it.
200bags6 karma2015-02-25 01:23:40 UTC
Weightlessone15 karma2015-02-25 01:30:36 UTC
Some most certainly, all no way. I know of drugs that most people have no idea exist. To legalize some of these would introduce alot of pain into the community. Honestly people are going to use/sell drugs weather they are legal or not, It does irritate me that people make a profit off of keeping the drug addicted community down, but honestly should the government be involved in this or should society look down on these things enough that people aren't tempted to use.
brsmax6 karma2015-02-25 01:30:42 UTC
How common Is the "dirty cop" thing.
Have you seen it play out or is it mostly just fabrication?
Weightlessone15 karma2015-02-25 01:36:09 UTC
I would say less than one half of one percent of police officers are dirty, but that is a total guess. In my whole time undercover I ran into two dirty cops, and they were providing information to drug dealers, not off wrongfully arresting people, in fact in both their cases they had fewer arrests then almost anyone in their departments.
Television has vastly over blown the dirty cop problem, and in many cases invent stories where there aren't ones.
ontopofyourmom6 karma2015-02-25 06:50:43 UTC
Just an incidental question: I believe the percentage of bad apples in a typical police department is pretty low (including both the violent hotheads and dirty cops) - but I also believe that the majority of the good cops know which of their coworkers should be finding a different profession.
Leaving aside the actual difficulty of organizational change (compounded by police culture), do you think that this complacency makes the good cops a little less good than they might describe themselves?
Thanks for an interesting AMA.
Weightlessone5 karma2015-02-25 06:52:52 UTC
Great observation. Most of us know exactly who the bad cops in our department are, but trying to get them fired usually leads to wrongful termination lawsuits and good cops being seen as biased. I guess the thought is if cops turn on each other then we won't be there to help each other when we need each other.
HectorMagnificente7 karma2015-02-25 07:17:21 UTC
U.S Army Vet here, in the military if we see a battle buddy doing some thing wrong, immoral, or improper we are obligated to turn that person in. Why isn't this mentality reenforced in the police? We can not function properly as a team or accomplish our mission when we have team members performing acts that jeopardize our integrity. U.S Army holds itself to the highest standard and you fail that standard by both participating in or tuning a blind eye to these acts. For some reason, I don't see police officers holding themselves to the same doctrine, especially when I see cop tuning their backs on other cops who whistle blow. What are your thoughts on this?
Weightlessone9 karma2015-02-25 07:22:59 UTC
I couldn't agree more. I wish that all cops would hold each other to extremely high standards. I know I held myself to high standards, but we were not encouraged to make sure others stayed to our high standards. If police departments had the leadership the military does they would function much better, however people would be even more afraid of them.
jessos15 karma2015-02-25 05:56:17 UTC
Was there ever a time somebody got suspicious? Also did you ever have to do anything that you really did not want to do just to keep your cover?
Weightlessone5 karma2015-02-25 05:59:20 UTC
There have been times where people got suspicious. I talked earlier about being trapped in a room why they verified with the guy who vouched for me. I was always really good at talking my way out of doing bad things. I tried to treat it like a business, because that is how the people I was investigating treated it. Professional drug dealers don't want to get mixed up in other types of crime.
mcsher4 karma2015-02-25 01:02:25 UTC
did you use while undercover? if so, what did you use?
Weightlessone23 karma2015-02-25 01:06:11 UTC
Actually no I never used. I was high enough level that many people in the business are not using the narcotics they sell. I liken it to the CEO of McDonald's eating off the dollar menu.
mcsher5 karma2015-02-25 01:16:12 UTC
is there SOP in place for if/when you are asked to use?
Weightlessone6 karma2015-02-25 01:20:43 UTC
Yes, but for most of us it was a point of pride to be able to talk our way out of it, but the SOP is most certainly in place.
918b0n4 karma2015-02-25 01:35:07 UTC
Possible to elaborate purely out of interest?
Weightlessone13 karma2015-02-25 01:43:10 UTC
We would use if we felt that there was no way to continue the investigation without using, or if your life was endangered if you didn't use. They would then make us go to the hospital to get checked out after using. Not to mention all of the testimony you could give while "high" was completely invalid. So it is way simpler to just not use.
StoneTehBunny4 karma2015-02-25 07:10:36 UTC
What is the one secret that if anyone knew, could put you in mortal danger?
Weightlessone19 karma2015-02-25 07:17:56 UTC
I don't think it would be smart for me to tell that, lol
soupoftheday53 karma2015-02-25 08:04:39 UTC
is it weird convincing someone your not lying while undercover?
Weightlessone5 karma2015-02-25 08:25:52 UTC
no. Your life depends on it, so It isn't weird. It's survival.
pas463 karma2015-02-25 00:36:36 UTC
Have you any issues with PTSD? and good luck with the Hollywood advisory role.
Weightlessone12 karma2015-02-25 00:39:04 UTC
I definitely have some moments that it hits me, but I wouldn't say I have PTSD. There are plenty of people out there who have seen way worse things than I have, and to call what I have PTSD would really belittle what they have gone through.
macleanpa3 karma2015-02-25 00:37:43 UTC
Did you ever feel like joining the bad guys?
Weightlessone16 karma2015-02-25 00:42:05 UTC
Not even a little. Almost all of what you do is recorded, so there would not even be an opportunity to "join" them. It is sad seeing all the money that changes hands, and know there is no i will ever make near that much money legitimately. But you know what you are signing up for when you go undercover.
kaboodles443 karma2015-02-25 02:57:36 UTC
Weightlessone5 karma2015-02-25 03:02:41 UTC
The test is all about the fourth amendment and search and seizure case law. In my opinion this is the most important amendment for every police officer to fully understand, and the case law regarding it literally changes weekly. If you want to become a detective I suggest you become a police officer first, and set yourself apart as the best police officer in the department. You should be able to teach everyone the law on everything, and if you don't know it you should know where to look. It also helps to have a very strong working relationship with your State/district Attorneys and the assistant State/district attorneys, they will help you alot, but for the most part you need to be a beacon of understanding the law.
MoCJones3 karma2015-02-25 03:35:05 UTC
What do you do if your cover's blown?
Weightlessone14 karma2015-02-25 03:40:49 UTC
Die? It never happened to me, alot of people never realize you were the undercover until(if) they go to trial. The worst I have ever had was someone saying "I knew you were a cop the whole time". But that is just their way of saving face.
Electric_Banana2 karma2015-02-25 03:51:08 UTC
Do you ever stay embedded in the same group after arresting someone in that group?
Weightlessone10 karma2015-02-25 03:54:06 UTC
no, we would do all the arrests at the same time at the end of the investigation. That way they aren't looking for an undercover in their ranks after the first arrest.
MadisonSpencer3 karma2015-02-25 04:09:08 UTC
Did you ever use drugs as to gain trust?
Or just ever use as part of your job?
Weightlessone8 karma2015-02-25 04:12:12 UTC
Nope, I have had this asked a ton of times. I hope I did a decent job explaining it. The worst I ever did undercover was drink alcohol, but I am sure guys who work on the street level have a very different experience than I did.
A_A_A_A_AAA3 karma2015-02-25 04:21:40 UTC
Did you aw,as want to do this type of work?
Weightlessone9 karma2015-02-25 04:28:27 UTC
no, I originally wanted to be in the military, but my Dad was very high up in the Army, and he did everything in his power to keep me from joining.
spaceandbeyond4 karma2015-02-25 04:45:12 UTC
Care to say why?
Weightlessone11 karma2015-02-25 04:49:55 UTC
He wanted me to be a doctor. I got a perfect score on the SAT and had a full academic scholarship through college. Not meaning to brag, just trying to answer your question.
spaceandbeyond3 karma2015-02-25 05:02:49 UTC
Good reason. Still going to get to live your dream of joining the military though. Which specialty have you chosen?
Weightlessone8 karma2015-02-25 05:04:01 UTC
I would like to be an officer so you don't get to pick a specialty before joining. I think intel would be a good fit.
spaceandbeyond3 karma2015-02-25 05:26:40 UTC
Sounds good. Thanks for info. Good luck with everything. I have a friend who wants to be an undercover cop. He served two tours and has had his mind set on becoming a narcotics officer ever since serving. You mentioned how your social aptitude helped you greatly for your job(s). He's also very sociable and can talk to anybody. From your account it could help him greatly in the future.
Weightlessone3 karma2015-02-25 05:44:13 UTC
It will likely help him alot. Have him PM me if he needs any guidance.
Shivadxb1 karma2015-02-25 05:33:56 UTC
given all the answers I've read so far you'd be wasted in Intel until you got high enough up. You're clearly very bright and motivated. You should consult
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 05:42:23 UTC
well if you have the job I'd love to hear the offer, lol.
german_nerd3 karma2015-02-25 07:33:45 UTC
Popular media (TV, video games, etc.) often portray undercover LEOs struggling with emotional ties they develop with the "bad guys" around them, sometimes even losing sight of the mission or refusing to carry it out. Is this a real phenomenon? Did you ever have such feelings?
Weightlessone5 karma2015-02-25 07:40:22 UTC
I tried my best to understand each person I investigated, but there is a huge difference between understanding and feeling what they did is right. Alot of the people I investigated are really nice guys, but at the end of the day would kill there mama if they thought she was going to rat them out. I know that sounds weird, but sadly it's often times the truth.
rel192 karma2015-02-25 05:09:04 UTC
Have you ever run into anyone from your undercover life after you were no longer undercover?
Do you use any code words with family in case there may be trouble in public?
Weightlessone7 karma2015-02-25 05:10:37 UTC
Yes and Yes. I told my family the code word and they all knew to just walk away if they heard me say it. It was weird at first, but they got used to it. It probably happened less than five times.
lolimse2 karma2015-02-25 06:31:58 UTC
Do you watch the Sherlock series and if so, is it in any way relatable to your life?
Weightlessone2 karma2015-02-25 06:33:47 UTC
can't say I have.
mmarielle2 karma2015-02-25 06:22:37 UTC
Did you ever feel like you were starting to identify yourself more as your undercover identity than your real one? How did you keep your identities separate?
Weightlessone6 karma2015-02-25 06:32:14 UTC
It is all you, the difference is what you do in response to things. You can never be someone you aren't you just get to chose your actions in response to things that happen. In order to "turn it off" I spent half an hour just sitting and praying after each day of work, but there were lots of other methods I heard from other detectives.
fatfecker2 karma2015-02-24 23:51:19 UTC
What is the most illegal thing you did whilst undercover?
Weightlessone14 karma2015-02-25 00:56:53 UTC
Thats an interesting question. I guess buy hundreds of Kilos of cocaine, but isn't that kind of the point?
snailien8 karma2015-02-25 02:19:10 UTC
What happens to the cocaine? Asking for...uh...a research paper. ;)
No, but really. Does it go into evidence? Did you have to sell it? It seems likehigh level dealers might kind of catch on that you weren't flipping it, but what do I know?
Also, I used to deal coke and a couple guys who provided to me ended up getting busted in an undercover situation. Around when that started happening, I moved and haven't done it since. Your work helps a lot more people out than people probably realize. So thanks!
Weightlessone9 karma2015-02-25 02:22:46 UTC
Thank you for your sincerity it means alot to me. The cocaine is all destroyed in a furnace after the trial is over. There is a small (super small) percentage used for police operations like buy busts, but I can't emphasize enough how small a percentage this is.
Anablue2 karma2015-02-25 02:43:06 UTC
Does being a detective change your personality outside the job ? Do you always think of things in a more analytical way ?
Weightlessone5 karma2015-02-25 02:46:09 UTC
Absolutely, even my parents say I am a totally different person. Not in a bad way, just everything becomes a piece of another piece. On a more irritating note you start realizing all the crime that happens around you. I can't go to the grocery store without seeing a person shoplifting, not that I stop them or anything, it is just weird that you can't turn it off. Maybe one day once I am out for awhile I will be able to just walk down the street and see things like I used to.
Anablue4 karma2015-02-25 03:25:52 UTC
I can certainly understand that. A family member is a retired undercover detective and whenever we're in his company, he's quiet. In an analytic a way.
Weightlessone8 karma2015-02-25 03:31:17 UTC
If you only knew what was going through his mind.
Kallnosti2 karma2015-02-25 00:08:59 UTC
What are differences between working undercover in Hollywood and real life?
Weightlessone7 karma2015-02-25 00:25:56 UTC
Funny you say that, I moved to Hollywood just recently thinking I would consult people on how to make these movies more realistic. I would say hollywood has everything SOOOOOOOOO wrong that I don't even know how to begin answering that question. In some ways what I did was more exciting, in some ways less.
Kallnosti1 karma2015-02-25 02:23:41 UTC
Weightlessone12 karma2015-02-25 02:31:09 UTC
Well it is kind of like telling people playing football why they aren't playing baseball, but I will do what I can.
We always work with a cover team, there is no lone gunman out doing his thing and just reporting in at the end of the day. I wore a bug and camera any time I expected to interact with anyone. They are so small people wouldn't know them half the time if they saw them.
TV has this notion that you just go in and shoot everyone and that's your investigation. If you shot one person in a cartel it would ruin the entire investigation. You do everything in your power to keep things from getting violent. The whole cowboy mentality just doesn't exist. You would be dead in an hour.
Kallnosti2 karma2015-02-25 02:33:36 UTC
Wow, that must have been difficult, well thanks for the answers!
Weightlessone8 karma2015-02-25 02:35:07 UTC
No problem, always a blessing to get to talk about something I had to keep a secret for so long.
DebDecatur0072 karma2015-02-25 00:06:31 UTC
In the two years you were undercover, could you contact your family to let them know you were okay?
Weightlessone10 karma2015-02-25 00:10:26 UTC
Yeah, I could contact my family. It is high level drug sales, so it isn't like I kept a whole bunch of addicts around me all the time. I went home to my ex wife alot of evenings, and talked to my family at least every few days over the phone.
zantichi3 karma2015-02-25 06:58:51 UTC
You went to your ex wife's?
Weightlessone6 karma2015-02-25 07:01:02 UTC
she wasn't my ex wife then. Sorry for the confusion.
DogChan1 karma2015-02-25 01:24:34 UTC
How realistic is the show "Undercover Boss"? Is it similar to the kind of stuff you do?
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 01:27:04 UTC
I can't say I have ever seen it, sorry. If it is anything like the other stuff on TV it is way off.
Insomnigreen1 karma2015-02-25 03:18:12 UTC
In my early 20's, I performed UC operations with a county task force and state DOJ when working as a surveillance officer for a casino. We had a severe meth problem that the City PD wouldn't do anything about. Despite great surveillance footage, they just didn't really care.
There was one dealer that I wanted to nail to the wall because he was a convicted sex offender (Sexual Penetration Of Victim With Foreign Object By Force). Unfortunately, he knew better than to deal in the casino with the amount of cameras we had around inside as well as the parking lot.
He kept trying to get our UC to go off-site but it was just too risky and we had to let him go.
Did you ever have a dealer that was the "one that got away" that still bugs you?
Edit - Grammar
Weightlessone3 karma2015-02-25 03:23:09 UTC
The one that got away for me was one that they greatly reduced his sentence due to cooperation on a murder trial. Unfortunately the week he got out he went and murdered someone. So we essentially allowed a murder in order to prosecute another murderer.
Meth is a serious problem that police departments are not yet able to combat, because many of the states don't have laws that will allow prosecution without the finished product, and meth is flipped so quickly. It is not unusual for a police department to shy away from an investigation they did not initiate. You should go to your state attorney and talk to him about it, they have the power to arrest without the police department.
alzirrizla1 karma2015-02-25 06:21:15 UTC
here is a list... don't feel you need to answer if you don't want to.
what is your biggest regret from being undercover?
what does it feel like to gain someones trust only to betray that trust in the end?
what is the closest you have come to being discovered as an undercover and how did you avoid it?
what do you see as the outcome if drugs and prostitution were to become legalized, regulated , licensed and taxed?
how do you see officers who break the law while in the line of duty?
using sirens to run a light without cause, parking in no stopping zones the minor stuff
using sirens to run a light without cause, parking in no stopping zones the minor stuff
how many of them have you witnessed doing this kinda of stuff and what did you do about it?
how do you feel about fireman and ambulance generally being more liked then the police?
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 06:30:07 UTC
I will try and answer all of these questions.
1: I don't really have any regrets from being undercover.
2: I never really felt like it was betraying people's trust. Even when caught many of these people said that it is just part of doing business. I didn't exactly hang out with them and their families.
3: The closest I came to having my identity discovered was when the guy tried to shoot my Confidential Source (see my earlier response), it was difficult to arrest him, and keep the investigation going.
4: I think it would be great for the country to have drugs legalized regulated, licensed and taxed. Good luck making it happen.
5: I was a pretty well known goody two shoes and I stood up to officers who broke the law, even minor stuff I would have them think about how it effected others.
6: As far as major stuff, I caught two and both of them are in jail now because of me. It is the duty of all police officers to make sure we don't have law breakers among our numbers.
7: It sucks that firemen and ambulance drivers are like more than us, but at least the firemen and ambulance drivers REALLY like the police. Ask one of them more than likely one of us has saved their life.
Good questions, hope I answered them all.
alzirrizla1 karma2015-02-25 07:34:07 UTC
works for me ... thanks for the answers... assuming you're telling the truth... after all you lie for a living ;) ... you've earned some respect from me ... not that means anything... you've shared so i will ...my view of police is skewed for a number of good reasons but i am working on that ... i understand police are not all the same and that the police are humans with all the good and bad that comes with that ... i grew up and live in "AFFA"-"Nomad" territory but have always walked the line (well mostly) but the police i have known in my life time...have not been the shining examples that the police should be ... so again... assuming your telling the truth [police trust issues anyone?] ;) and for what it's worth... you've earned some respect from me...thanks again for the answers...
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 07:38:15 UTC
Thank you. I appreciate it.
Swarlsonegger1 karma2015-02-25 00:24:15 UTC
what kind of person pays you what amount of money to do what job for that period of time?
Weightlessone3 karma2015-02-25 00:27:29 UTC
Well you get paid by the government, and you get a normal detective salary plus a clothing allowance, nobody does it for the money.
Triforceman5551 karma2015-02-25 04:51:00 UTC
Do you feel like your personality and self-image has changed as a result of being undercover?
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 04:52:34 UTC
A ton. I am almost nothing like I was before I went undercover. My whole family has told me this, and as I said earlier it cost me my marriage. I don't regret it at all though.
[deleted]1 karma2015-02-25 04:42:32 UTC
Weightlessone3 karma2015-02-25 04:44:22 UTC
nope. No one can compel you to testify if you are in fear for your life.
l7_hay1 karma2015-02-25 05:10:37 UTC
First of all, thanks for your service! The reddit community is generally anti-cop and pro-drug legalization so I'm sure you've gotten some flack. I think the fact that you used to do hostage negotiation is the coolest thing ever! What was your first experience negotiating like? Did it ever go horribly wrong, or most of the time did you guys get the desired outcome?
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 05:39:56 UTC
My first negotiation was with a husband who had taken his wife hostage after beating her. I got him to focus on how if he hurt her or himself he would be orphaning his child. He gave up after about 45 minutes.
mygpaiszeropointzero1 karma2015-02-25 05:24:54 UTC
Hi there! I have two questions for you!
What are your thoughts on Tough on Crime laws?
In my Law and Society class, my professor said "Crack cocaine sentences have been much more harsh than those for powder cocaine". What are your thoughts on that as well?
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 05:47:58 UTC
In my experience there is no real standard sentencing for crimes, and it is far to random. Many times you will see the same crime get drastically different penalties. In one severe case I saw a man get two weeks for a laundry list of crimes including Arms trafficking and cocaine trafficking. The judge's reason for giving him such a lenient sentence was that he had not committed a crime in 30 years. The reason he had not committed a crime in 30 years was he had just gotten out of prison for first degree murder.
As far as crack getting a larger sentence than powder cocaine I am not sure I have seen that to be true. I will say that crack cocaine has a larger impact on very impoverished communities.
ontopofyourmom1 karma2015-02-25 06:41:04 UTC
Although this might not have been true in your jurisdiction, it was an explicit part of federal sentencing guidelines for a long time.
For that matter, many if not most states also use standardized sentencing guidelines.
Weightlessone2 karma2015-02-25 06:45:20 UTC
I know the guidelines are in place, but they are extremely loosely followed. I am not trying to be a jerk, there are just tons of legal loopholes when it comes to sentencing.
WickedlyDelicious1 karma2015-02-24 23:56:18 UTC
Are you married/in a relationship? How does your family feel about you working in this field?
Weightlessone5 karma2015-02-24 23:58:32 UTC
I was married. I got divorced while working undercover, which is waaaaay too common. She really really hated it. My family thought it was cool, but they eventually talked me into leaving the police department which I have done very recently.
creepygymsocks1 karma2015-02-25 02:55:19 UTC
What do you do now?
Could you elaborate on the relationship issues with your wife prior to getting a divorce?
Weightlessone5 karma2015-02-25 02:59:14 UTC
Now I am joining the Army. Although I am not in yet. I tried two different sales jobs, and just realized it wasn't for me.
The relationship with my wife was a gradual thing. Neither one of us argued much at all, but I changed so much in the time i was undercover that we both realized I was not the person who she married. It was extremely civil as far as divorces go. Almost as if one day you realized you were married to a stranger. Neither you or the stranger would want to be married to each other so it was just the logical thing to get a divorce.
aburkowsky91 karma2015-02-25 04:33:35 UTC
Did you ever have to take drugs to maintain your cover?
Weightlessone3 karma2015-02-25 04:36:19 UTC
Many detectives do, but I did not ever have to. I was doing high level drug sales, so it is not uncommon for the dealers to not use the drugs they sell.
HairBrushHeroes1 karma2015-02-25 04:18:31 UTC
A detective would be my dream job! How did you get into the field? Would you have any tips on getting into the field/being an investigator?
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 04:21:09 UTC
Be a police officer first. Then be the BEST police officer. Once you are a very good police officer start applying to your departments vacant detective positions. There are no entry level detective jobs (at least not to my knowledge).
HairBrushHeroes1 karma2015-02-25 04:39:39 UTC
Thank you! I know you have to test and apply to be a detective, and of course a criminal justice degree would help, but how much would it help? Do you think spending the thousands of dollars to college would justify the degree that just might help you become a detective?
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 04:43:00 UTC
If I was in college again there is absolutely no way I would major in criminal justice. You could do it as a minor perhaps, but by getting a criminal justice degree you are type casting yourself into law enforcement, which is a a profession that typically does not require you to have majored in a related field. Like I said earlier, my bachelors and masters degrees are in communication, and I advanced through the police department very quickly.
HairBrushHeroes1 karma2015-02-25 04:47:59 UTC
Aha! I see! Thank you for your service and the AMA!
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 04:51:06 UTC
Thank you for your question.
NorbitGorbit1 karma2015-02-25 00:10:52 UTC
what kind of tests do you need to pass before going undercover; do you know of any applicants who definitely shouldn't be going undercover get approved?
Weightlessone1 karma2015-02-25 00:21:37 UTC
They have you do ALOT of psychological evaluation before you do it. Most, but not all, of the Detectives I knew were regular street cops at some point, myself included.
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