Private Investigators and the private investigative industry historically have been shrouded in mystery. The nature of its practice is to acquire information discreetly and covertly utilizing various investigative methods and technology for the benefit of the hiring client. Some of the technological equipment used is commonplace; however the methods are industry specific. The private investigative industry has been glamorized by the film noire genre of movies, mystery, fiction novels and through various adaptations and variances of the theme of the “Hard Boiled Private Eye”. However, the modern day private investigator is inclined to be active in his professional capacity in a corporate environment as much as in the dark alleys frequently depicted in pulp fiction literature.
Private investigators are usually competent individuals who provide their investigative services to individuals, attorneys, corporations and insurance companies to help them find answers and/or address concerns relevant to their interests. The concerned issues can be of a civil of criminal nature which requires the knowledge, experience and skill of a private investigator to resolve or provide clarity. An effective investigator seeks information without bias; the collected data is formalized for the client’s assessment and usage without the investigator’s prejudice or personal opinion. Most private investigators will not guarantee the results of an investigation for as the case unfolds discovery might affect the outcome, negatively or positively, supportive or unsupportive of the client’s objective. The process of conducting an investigation is to uncover and provide the relevant facts and disseminate this information confidentially to the hiring client. The documentation of the findings in the investigative report may be crucial to the Trier of Facts in a court proceeding, provide closure and solace to aggrieved parties or help establish a course of action to management personnel.
The private investigative industry is vast and practitioners usually develop competency in one or a few areas. Many times this is resultant from previous employment in law enforcement or other professions. This creates the body of knowledge and experience from which the investigator taps to assist his/her clients with their private investigative needs. The professional investigator will also keep abreast of industry developments through networking with other investigators, reading industry journals and attending seminars, etc. to expand his knowledge base. This effectively makes the private investigator provide more value to the client which normally results in a higher level of satisfaction and possibly referral to other prospective clients.
The modern day private investigator’s role in society elicits disdain from some people and admiration from others; their role is essential which provides a service and fulfill a need not satisfied by law enforcement, other quasi governmental entities or other professionals. This role has developed parallel to law enforcement in duration with law enforcement sometimes being understaffed or prioritizing its resources for cases of higher public importance. There are times when laws restrict the activities of law enforcement personnel as agents of the government whereas private investigators being private citizens are exempt from these restrictions. However, there are some activities that law enforcement personnel can do that are not authorized for private investigators. Private investigators overall do have more anonymity than law enforcement personnel which can be advantageous to certain case investigations.
The modern day private investigator continues to evolve and adapt to the changing landscape in which his/her services are required. This evolutionary process which affects all of nature ensures the survival of the fittest; those who refuse or are incapable of evolving become extinct. This automatically translates into increase competency in the industry and the requirement to be an effective, efficient top rate private investigator for the ultimate benefit of the hiring client. However, the shroud of mystery still continues and is an essential component of the craft to be effective, but the new breed of private investigators are exponentially more savvy than their predecessors.