published Monday, March 18th, 2013

Deputy who went undercover as high school student for a year discusses sting

ELIZABETHTON, TENN. — An East Tennessee deputy who spent most of a school year on an undercover operation to determine the amount of drug activity in local high schools says it was a difficult first assignment.

In order to keep her cover, Donna Rogan, 22, told the Johnson City Press, she had to temporarily give up some of the most important things in her life: attending church and hanging out with other young adults and friends.

“I am glad I did it,” she said, but added that she would be hesitant to try it again. “It seemed like a lot longer time.”

Rogan spent 10 months posing as a transfer student at four high schools in Carter County schools and fit right into the drug subculture she found. Nine students and five adults were charged as a result of her assignment with the Carter County sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Chris Mathes said he came up with the idea for an undercover operation after hearing complaints about drugs at the schools. He said he met with District Attorney General Tony Clark and they discussed how to proceed, and then launched the investigation.

Mathes said he chose Rogan for the assignment after she came in to try out for the department’s reserve officer program. He said that during the first night of training prospective officers introduced themselves and Rogan talked about her interest in drug enforcement.

“I was interested in law enforcement since early in high school,” she told the newspaper.

Mathes said Rogan continued to be impressive with her work and potential during the training program, and he began to set up the undercover assignment while Rogan went to the law enforcement academy, where she continued to have success.

“We got rave reviews from the academy whenever we checked on her,” Mathes said.

Shortly after her graduation from the academy, she started high school again, which made her a little nervous.

“It was like going to high school for the first time. I was worried about whether I would make friends,” Rogan said.

She said other students were quick to show her around and offer friendship, and she witnessed a lot of good things happening in addition to the bad.

Rogan is currently a senior at East Tennessee State University majoring in law enforcement.

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