No industry is free from individuals that choose to do the wrong thing from time-to-time and this applies to private investigators as well. Unfortunately, there are those limited few that bring discredit to our profession and it often reflects badly on all of us.
Ethical, professional private investigators are always alert to conduct that may breach or violate ethical professional standards. Here is a simple decision making method to determine if your conduct during an investigation is ethical. This method is extremely important when the decision is not clear.
If you answer Yes to any of the questions above then you should not take that action. If you can answer No to all of these questions, there is a great chance that others will not question your conduct.
One question that often comes up from students, "Is there any situation where violating ethics acceptable, maybe more ethical?" This is a tricky question as it seems to imply the private investigator is conducting an unethical act when they learn something that is of such great importance to reveal that it would make the unethical act ethical. Our answer, considering the context of the question, is No - we are not aware of any "excuse" to make unethical conduct ethical. Otherwise the action(s) would be ethical at the time.
The biggest risk a private investigator takes when deciding to pursue an unethical or questionable action in their investigation is the harm that may be done to a client. This is unethical behavior aside from the action - creating risk for the client.
It's unfortunate that a few investigators decide to continue moving in the wrong direction when they know better, or are just not sure. When they do, and get caught, this reflects badly on them and badly on the private investigator profession. Any time the action is questionable, you are not sure if the answer is Yes or No, the best course of action is to find an alternative approach or discuss with legal counsel, or other trusted colleagues in your profession.
For fun, watch New York Private Investigator, Michael McKeever, by clicking here, Fact-Check some private investigator movies.
Some investigations into incidents, criminal or surveillance activity can be difficult to convey to your client in a written report. Establishing a clear timeline in chronological order can greatly assist in sharing information with your client they can understand. Here are a few timeline format ideas to help in your next investigation:
Slip & Fall Jones Retail Store
The parallel timeline clearly demonstrates the two actions as they occur. From the timeline it is easy to see the security officer responded as quickly as possible, as well as, the manager notified the security officer in a timely manner.
Timelines are a great tool to clearly demonstrate, document the results of the facts gathered, making it easy for others to understand what and when something occurred. As a private investigator gathering facts it is important to provide them to the client in a format they can understand, almost visualize what occurred.
There's nothing more rewarding than conducting an interview of a suspect and getting a confession, or completing an eye witness interview that clearly identifies the suspect. But wait, your work is not done.
Even when an interview is completed, the information you are searching for has been obtained, you must verify the information to ensure it is factual, then document it in the report for your client.
Why is it important to verify the facts when you get a confession or eye witness accounts? Because the suspect may change their story, or if court is in the future, they simply plea the fifth amendment and do not testify. Witnesses disappear, they move away or over time their memory recall becomes fuzzy. Also, a defense attorney may seek to poke holes in the information you gained through interviews by pointing out you did not verify information leaving doubt in the mind of the judge or jury.
Following is a simple checklist to verify information from a confession or eye witness statements:
Verifying each piece of information provided by suspects and witnesses will ensure that your case is complete and accurate. Any discrepancies should be investigated further until there is no doubt. This will help maintain the integrity of your case in the event memories of witnesses fade, or the suspect refuses to talk anymore.
As a private investigator have you ever found yourself working day and night with little time for a break? Over time, you find you don't have time to accomplish all the tasks you need for working your cases efficiently. We are going to provide some helpful tips to help you manage your time. Before you continue reading understand that not all of these tips are possible everyday, but if you strive to include as many as possible, when possible, you will be able to gain some more control over the most valuable resource you have...time. So, whenever possible try;
Time management is critical to a private investigator. Properly done, you will be more productive, efficient, and the quality of your work will improve. Take time, to make time work for you!
As a private investigator you often find yourself in situations where your safety may be at risk. Interviewing aggressive suspects; conducting surveillance; and being in unsafe areas. Often private investigators can become complacent about their safety, whether having interviewed several individuals without incident; working in unsafe areas several times without incident; or conducting surveillance without being approached by the target. It is important that you always think "Safety First!!!"
Safety First!!! As a private investigator you have to be aware, identify the potential risks you face and be prepared to take action. Think through the following every time you leave the office:
Unlike law enforcement, most private investigators do not have the assistance of others to rush to their aid in seconds. Private investigators must identify the potential risks and be prepared to implement mitigating responses which can include protective equipment, maintaining an awareness of evacuation routes, surroundings or taking other evasive actions. The key is to always think SAFETY FIRST!!! If you encounter a situation that is potentially dangerous? Exit, evacuate, run if needed to a place of safety. Only use physical force as a last resort to protect yourself.
Here are some other safety tips whether working or off-duty to help you develop habits that will make you think Safety First!!!!!:
Hopefully you have gathered that this article is to get you to think??????? Yes!!!! Think Safety First!!!! At all times!!!!
We are often asked by the public and students new to the private investigations industry, what are the differences or similarities of private investigative work as compared to police detectives. So we thought it would be helpful to compare and contrast both roles.
Although both use the same techniques and methods for conducting an investigation, there are significant differences. If you are a victim of a crime you may work with the local police detectives. If you have the need for assistance with a civil matter, administrative type of investigation or when the police do not have the needed resources, then you will call upon a private investigator. Infidelity, internal company investigations, or even crimes where the local police are unable to dedicate resources, are examples of when hiring a private detective is the right choice.
Chances are as a private investigator you have a format that you use for organizing your case files. Periodically, it is important to ensure your case file is organized to meet your client's needs. Here are a few tips that may help you tune-up your case files, or check to ensure you are providing the best product for your client.
PROPIACADEMY TIP: When proofreading for spelling and proper use of words, try reading the report backwards. This allows you to focus on spelling and proper word use.
Your report is the final product that represents your work. Chances are it will be read by several individuals depending on the type of case. It may be presented in a court of law, read by prosecutors, law enforcement or others. Proper organization will improve your final report product and reflect well on your work.
Private investigators are professional fact finders. They gather information and determine if the information is factual. Here are some tips to ensure you are gathering and reporting the facts:
Gathering and identifying factual information is your job. It is the key to maintaining your reputation as a private investigator and being successful in your job. No one wants to report something as a fact when it may not be.
Reprint/publication with permission from Holmes-Tech LLC
Working less sounds great but how do we do it? Simple answer: Make yourself work less each day by using the Force! Your mind force that is, and "NO Luke, I'm not your father so stop calling me!"
Interviewing is one of the critical skills that private investigators bring to the table in any investigation. Gaining information from witnesses, suspects, and subject matter experts often is the primary method that private investigators use to solve a case.
Establishing rapport with the person being interviewed is the first step in any interview, increasing the chances that the private investigator will gain the information they need. Before an interview, gather information about the individual such as reading statements they have provided prior to the interview, understanding their role in a company, or the reason they are being interviewed. Then;
Building rapport requires effort on the part of the private investigator in an interview situation. Think of building rapport as making an investment in the investigation. It requires a few minutes of time but can provide excellent results.
Pro PI staff
Experienced professionals and trainers.