At PropiAcademy, we offer training for the professional private investigator tradecraft. We provide entry level and continuing education training programs to help you maintain your knowledge, and improve your tradecraft. We acknowledge that industry only learning is not enough to make our graduates successful.
Learning outside of the private investigator profession will build on your personal skills, help you to better understand the environments you work within, and the tools you work with everyday. Let's look at a few learning ideas that are critical to improving your ability to work more efficiently, and effectively.
1. Personal Development - Learning about people, what motivates them, how you can better interact with those around you is personal development learning. Now you can easily see how personal development can better your performance as a private investigator. Consider learning in topics such as psychology, interpersonal relations, social behaviors, or team building.
2. Work Tools - As a private investigator you use a variety of tools in conducting your investigations. Cameras, video recorders, smartphones, computers and the various software programs are all tools you use everyday. Learning more on how to use these tools will increase your efficiency which leads to increased productivity. (Efficiency = Productivity which equals to more personal time!) Better understanding of the tools that you use everyday will improve your overall investigations.
3. Customer Service - Whether you are starting as an apprentice private investigator, or you are a business owner, improving your customer service skills is critical to earning repeat business. Private investigative work is a profit motivated business, but, being customer service oriented is a way to improve your interview techniques, develop information resources, and increase your overall enjoyment of your private investigator work.
These are only a few skill areas to add to your learning curriculum. You can probably think of several more topics. (Feel free to add your ideas by commenting on this article below.) We encourage you to continue your professional private investigation learning while continuing to learn about topics that will help improve your overall productivity which leads to greater job satisfaction.
Our last blog article, "All we want are the facts..." sparked some discussion about the reliability, or lack of reliability, of eyewitness testimony and the importance of verifying statements made by eyewitnesses.
As a private investigator you need to understand the theory of “Reconstructive Memory”. We often think that when we recall an incident we observed, it is a like a video playing in our mind, or a photograph. Our memories of incidents we observe are not that accurate.
The theory of reconstructive memory is our memory recall is influenced by our individual perceptions, social influences, and our knowledge (past experiences and how we interpret information). In addition, our memories are influenced by the stress we feel at the moment, our biases, information inputs we experience during and immediately after the event, and our past experiences.
Watch this news video about eyewitness testimony.
When we witness a stressful event such as a vehicle accident, or an assault, our mind captures some of the information, not all of it. Our view of an incident is impacted by the existing lighting at the scene, sounds we hear, what others at the scene may be saying.
For example; a car drives by and a large bang similar to a gunshot is heard. Others nearby may start yelling, “He’s got a gun!!”. We look at the vehicle and see the driver with their arm hanging out of the window. Our minds, using the information we have received from others, our vision, we now see the driver holding a gun. We run for cover only to learn that the vehicle was backfiring.
Where there are gaps in what we see, hear, or smell, our mind begins to fill in the gaps. Our experiences may be from television, previously witnessed events that are similar. In our example, the stimulus of hearing others shout “He’s got a gun!!!” makes us see a gun in the individual’s hand. We may even think we saw a muzzle flash similar to a movie scene we have watched.
The manner we are asked to recall the information can influence our memory recall. Asking a witness leading questions is one example. “You saw a tall man robbing the store clerk?” Now we have the added the memory stimulus that the suspect was tall.
Our experiences immediately following an incident influence what we recall as well. Consider you are with a group of friends that witness a vehicle accident. Everyone begins to talk about what they saw. Your mind starts to fill in gaps with what you hear others saying they saw whether accurate or inaccurate.
The method in which our mind works to help us recall incidents is impacted by several psychological and neurobiological influences that can reduce the accuracy of our recall about a specific incident. Keep in mind, to the witness, what they recall is the truth because it is what their mind is telling them they saw. As an investigator, you need to be aware of these potential influences. Look for secondary sources to verify what witnesses state they observe as they may not be always accurate.
Still not convinced, watch this video for more information about eyewitness testimony.
As a private investigator, you are responsible for sorting through eyewitness testimony and identifying factual information from reconstructed memory information. Again, it is important to remember that the eyewitness is not being untruthful, only repeating what their mind has reconstructed as a memory in their mind.
Pro PI staff
Experienced professionals and trainers.