Private Investigator

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.

Private Investigator or Private Detective?

In the State of Connecticut

The terms ‘private investigator‘ or ‘private detective‘, are interchangeable. The state issues several types of private detective licenses. Some of these licenses are restricted to a particular area of investigations for example ‘ Arson’.

A private investigator (detective) should be a professional that is trained in investigations, surveillance, and information gathering, to name a few areas. The investigator should have contacts and professional associations with members of law enforcement, private sector investigators, the courts, attorneys and other individuals that can supply information when needed.

Every Private Investigator or Detective agency in Connecticut is licensed, bonded and insured either through the company they work for or as the licensee. If they are not, they can not practice as private investigators in this state. There is a minimum requirement that all private investigators and detectives in Connecticut have to meet.

Applicants for a Private Detective License must be at least 25 years of age, have good moral character and have at least 5 years Full Time experience as a Licensed Private Detective, or 5 years Full Time experience as a registered Private Investigator, or 5 years Full Time experience operating a Proprietary Detective Agency, or 5 years Full Time experience as an investigator with any Federal State of Local Government, or 5 years Full Time experience as a Detective with a Federal, State or Local Police Department or, Any other recognized 5 years Full Time industry related investigative experience or have had at least 10 years experience as a police officer with a federal, state or organized municipal police department. If the applicant is a corporation, association or partnership, the person filing on behalf of the business, must meet all the qualifications detailed above, and shall be an officer of such corporation, or member of such association or partnership.

The commissioner may, at his discretion, substitute up to one year of experience for a private detective license applicant upon proof of satisfactory participation in a course of instruction pertinent to the license. Employment as a security officer, does not qualify as time earned to obtain a private detective license. No license shall be issued to any person who has been convicted of any felony, (2) convicted of any misdemeanor under section 21a-279, 53a-58, 53a-61, 53a-61a, 53a-62, 53a-63, 53a-96, 53a-175, 53a-176, 53a-178 or 53a-181d, or equivalent conviction in another jurisdiction, within the past seven years, (3) convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude, or (4) discharged from military service under conditions that demonstrate questionable moral character.

If a private detective or private detective agency license is granted to an applicant based on the applicant’s experience as an investigator with an organized municipal fire department, such license shall restrict the licensee to performing only the type of investigations performed for the municipal fire department. It does not grant a general investigation license.

No license may be granted to an applicant currently vested with police powers. The license of a corporation may be denied by the commissioner, or suspended or revoked, if it appears that ten percent or more of the stock of such corporation is held by a person who cannot meet the character standards required of the license applicant.

This is where choosing an investigator becomes important. The ability to take photos of an accident scene does not make an investigator an accident investigator. Just as taking a couple of statements and reviewing a case does not make a person a homicide investigator. Investigative knowledge and abilities requires years of practice and learning. When choosing a private investigator ask questions and take your time. It will make a world of difference.

Private Investigator Career

A private investigator career is a fast paced vocation offering tremendous room for upward and lateral movement, as well as fantastic earnings potential. Private investigators provide necessary services for individual and corporate consumers alike. Investigation is a very diverse field with specialties ranging the full gamut of the legal service professions. There are many niche sectors of professional investigation, with specialists using highly developed skill sets to be recognized as experts in their particular focus. Detective work is in great demand across many industries, as well as in the public sector, so now is a great time to join the ranks of working professional investigative specialists.

Private investigation as a career path encompasses many different job titles which are open to interested professionals with the knowledge and experience to fulfill the demanding requirements of a diverse clientele. Beginning a career as a private detective can be challenging, since entry level jobs can be few and far between, but there are still ways of starting a new career in the detective arts for those with the talent and drive to succeed.

Most private sector detective agencies will not hire inexperienced agents, except possibly as interns. The easiest way to become a private detective is to begin honing your skills in the insurance industry. A few years on the job training as an insurance claim investigator or SIU (special investigative unit) agent will prepare virtually anyone for a position in private sector work. Alternately, a background in law enforcement, military service or the legal professions will also qualify an individual for a lucrative career as an investigative professional.

There are a variety of training programs offered to persons who want to pursue investigation as a career path. This training ranges from college level degree programs to accredited certificates to online courses to main order home study programs. Obviously, the investment in a quality training program will help to bring you to the next level in your investigation aspirations, while a lesser course will surely be little more than a waste of time and resources. Always invest in a course which will provide you with skills and knowledge recognized by industry insiders. Never purchase a program simply because it is cheap or easy.

Once you have acquired some basic investigation skills through formalized training or on the job experience, you can then decide which facet of investigation best suits your aptitudes and preferences. Among private investigators, there are infidelity specialists, business investigation specialists, trial preparation specialists, subcontractor insurance investigators, cult rescue specialists, missing persons investigators, crime scene investigators, forensic examiners, medical investigators, fire investigators, maritime investigators, personal injury specialists, surveillance operatives, skip tracers, intellectual property investigators and public record search agents. In the corporate world, there are loss prevention experts, forensic accountants, forensic computer engineers, litigation specialists and internal affairs investigators. Related investigative professions include: bail enforcement agents, bounty hunters, body guards, private security consultants, lie detection specialists, repossession operatives, security equipment contractors and process servers. These are the most common investigative specialties, although there are others and more appear year by year in this constantly evolving industry.

Private investigators have come a long way from the fictional detective roles we have grown accustomed to in the media. In fact, there is such as demand for investigation related services, that many companies are recruiting suitable candidates from among our active duty armed forces personnel and law enforcement agencies. One thing is for sure; if you have the drive and determination to make it in this business, there is certainly room to become as successful as you dream of being. I wish you luck in your future endeavors as a professional investigator and will be happy to help with any advice I can offer.