Recognize the title? It was the common phrase used by Detective Sgt. Joe Friday, not “Just the facts” that is often erroneously attributed to the television series actor. Ok, enough trivia.
In an any investigation the primary responsibility of a private investigator is to gather facts. But what exactly is a fact. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “fact” as; (paraphrasing); the quality of being actual; something that has actual existence; an actual occurrence. Private investigators have the burden of proving something to be factual. So how do you do it?
Although it’s not fool-proof, one method is to verify the “information” from two different sources that are not related to each other, or at least directly related. For example;
Witness stated that the office door lock would not secure properly. Investigator observed the locking mechanism on the office door with a piece of tape over the lock throw preventing it from extending into the door jamb.
The witness said it did not work and the investigator observed that it did not work properly.
A simple model
Verifying a fact with a second source will ensure that the information is factual. Consider that a statement made is just a statement, a piece of information. Verifying the statement from a second source then establishes a fact.
This simple model is important when reviewing witness statements. Further, Witness # 2 could be replaced with observation of video footage, or a document.
Verifying information with a second source, when possible, will establish a "fact" from information. This will improve the accuracy of your final findings in the investigation. Focus on using this simple method for facts that are relevant to the case to ensure you are providing proven information.
Sometimes this can be tricky if you have only one witness. Look for information the witness provides that can be verified from another source. Here are a few examples:
Suspect was in a room at a specific time.
Suspect removed a specific item.
Ok, you get the idea of verifying information. As a private investigator, gathering facts is your primary responsibility in any investigation. Verify that you are providing facts relevant to the case versus providing information only. Failing to verify information to determine if it is factual can end in an incomplete, or worse, faulty investigation.
Pro PI staff
Experienced professionals and trainers.