Archive for October, 2012

Surveillance – Managing the White Space

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

What is “good” surveillance? In insurance defense investigations it is often measured by the bottom-line or end result. How much video was obtained and what does that video depict? To an insurance adjuster managing a heavy case load, the bottom-line is necessarily the focus and ultimate concern. The investigative report’s time entries document occurrences relevant to the case. But for the investigator, what happens in those “white spaces” comprises most of what determines a favorable end result. Simply, it is what isn’t on the page that tells the story of effective surveillance techniques.

A typical report time entry might look something like this:

10:20 a.m. The subject departed the residence.

10:40 a.m. The subject arrived at a grocery store. Videotape was obtained…

The bottom line is a tangible result: videotape was obtained. But success or failure is determined in that seemingly irrelevant 20-minute “white space” between time entries…the active pursuit. In a seemingly uneventful 20-minute pursuit from point A to point B hundreds of variables are considered and a myriad of split second decisions are made.

There are the physical logistics of the pursuit, such as vehicle spacing, positioning, speed, direction, traffic volume, road conditions, traffic signals, road signs, etc. to consider. There is the behavior of the subject. What are his/her driving tendencies – decisive, distracted, predictable, erratic? There is consideration of direction and location. Based on what is known of the subject, what potential businesses in the area might be a destination? The investigator must be several steps ahead mentally in order to act and react quickly in the unpredictability of active pursuit. It requires acute awareness and attention to peripheral detail every moment. It is a nuanced and subtle dance and one wrong move can compromise the investigation or end the day.

Successful pursuit is a cornerstone of useful, effective surveillance. It is skillful management of this “white space” that distinguishes the bad from the good, and the useless from the valuable.

– Richard Q.

How I Became a Colorado Private Investigator

Monday, October 15th, 2012

I have been a member of the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado for nearly 6 years now. During that time, one of the questions I have heard time and time again is how one exactly goes about becoming a private investigator, what steps are required, where can an incoming investigator gain experience, etc. As I talked with other long-time, experienced investigators, I realized there are just about as many ways to gain entry and a foothold in this profession as there are investigators in this profession.

With that in mind, I felt compelled to begin an article series entitled, How I Became a Private Investigator. My goal is to provide incoming investigators with some ideas and inspiration to begin their journey and ensure a long career in professional private investigations.

To begin, I must mention a little bit of the background I had coming into the profession. I did not have a college degree, although I did major in engineering for 2 ½ years at the University of Colorado-Boulder. I also did not have former law enforcement experience, or former military experience. Growing up, I never had aspirations to become a detective or investigator of any type. The most exposure I ever had to anything of a detective or investigations nature was reading Sherlock Holmes stories.

After realizing I did not want to be an engineer, I went out into the work force and worked in construction for a couple of years. Those years of working in construction made me realize what I truly wanted out of a career. I wanted a career that would be more mentally stimulating and challenging than construction, but I also liked being out in the world, not being confined in a cubicle or office environment all day, every day.

I began looking in the newspaper ads for jobs that fit the criteria above. I came across an ad for a company in Castle Rock that was hiring for an insurance investigator. The ad specified that there would be regular travel in Colorado, no experience necessary, will train the right person, and bilingual was a plus. I thought to myself, “I would love to see the state, I’m bilingual (Spanish), and if they’re willing to train, I’m willing to learn.”

I put my application in, and even though the ad stated that no experience was necessary, I still thought I’d never have a chance. As I mentioned before, I was not former law enforcement or former military and I had zero schooling in criminal justice or investigative related fields. I had not even so much as taken a course in private investigations. Actually, at the time I was not aware this position was considered private investigations.

Much to my surprise, the manager of the company called me and asked for an interview. He interviewed me, tested me out on my Spanish, and afterwards I still thought I had no chance of being hired. I can’t begin to explain the excitement I felt when I was hired. When I switched careers from construction to investigations, I initially took a drastic cut in pay. I started out at $12/hour in investigations over 10 years ago.  However, I knew that my training with this company was worth something, so I didn’t mind the cut in pay.

Over the first two weeks, I went through an intensive field training program, and after those two weeks it was a trial by fire in working actual surveillance cases and process serves with no assistance. I still remember that for a month or two after beginning my career, I did not know I was becoming a private investigator. I had been hired as an insurance investigator, that’s what my boss referred to the employees as, and I didn’t make the connection to private investigations initially.

I think back now to what it took for me to get to where I am now. I intuitively guided myself to a career that was well suited to my personality. I feel tremendously fortunate to have found a company that was willing to train me from the ground up. The rest was perseverance, determination, and a never ending fervor for learning as much as I can about investigations. Actually, I’m still learning to this day. My goal is to learn one thing that is investigations related every day. Learning how to become a professional private investigator has been one of the most challenging experiences that I’ve been through. Being a business owner in this profession, well, that’s another challenge of its own. Actually, it has been the most challenging journey I’ve undergone, but also the most rewarding. I’ve been in this profession for over 10 years, and God willing, I hope to be in this profession for another 20 or 30.

Colorado Springs Private Investigator Conference Schedule

Friday, October 12th, 2012

2012 PPIAC Conference Schedule

Thursday, October 18th

8:00 – 8:30           Registration

8:30 – 9:15           President’s Welcome – State of Association – Introductions

9:15 – 10:30        Lindy Frolich:  Ethics for Investigators

10:30 – 10:45      Break and Vendor presentations

10:45 – 12:15      Zak Barron:  The Media of Social Networking

12:15 – 1:15        Lunch on your own

1:15 – 3:00           David Wymore:   The First 100 Days of a Homicide

3:00 – 3:15           Break and Vendor presentations

3:15 – 4:30           Stason Ikenouye:  To Conceal or Not Conceal


Friday, October 19th

8:30 – 10:00         Dean Beers:  Death and Injury Causation in Autopsies

10:00 – 10:15      Break and Vendor Presentations

10:15 – 11:45      Frank Cavanaugh:  E-Evidence Retention and Applicable Evidentiary Rules

11:45 – 12:45      Lunch on your own

12:45 – 2:15        Mike Miranda:  What is an Accident Investigator?

2:15 – 2:30           Break and Vendor Presentations

2:30 – 3:30            Investigator Panel:  TBD

6:30 – 9:00           Keynote Speaker and Banquet


Saturday, October 20th

8:00 – 9:30           Gene Ferraro:  Self-publishing- How to Become a Successful Author and Get into Print for Fun and Profit

9:30 – 9:45           Break

9:45 – 10:45        Ellis Armistead:  Interviewing In-Custody Witnesses

Private Investigator Core Curriculum Schedule

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

PICC (Private Investigator Core Curriculum) October 2012

PICC is a seminar provided by the PPIAC (Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado) offering information on the PPIAC and providing education on some of the pressing issues surrounding the industry of investigations.

PICC is offered as a free seminar on October 17th, 2012 at the Antlers Hilton in Colorado Springs, 8am-5pm.

Attendees must RSVP to and receive a confirmation email, no later than October 10th, 2012.  Seating is limited, so don’t wait!

Seminar Schedule

8:00-8:30     Registration/Welcome

8:30-9:30     Eugene Ferraro: What’s new in FCRA/ Permissible Purposes

9:30-9:45     Break

9:45-11:00   Dean Beers:  Database usage/Basic Skip Tracing

11:00-12:00            Lunch (on your own)

12:00-1:30   Robert Orozco and Ryan Johnston :  Surveillance Investigator Safety

1:30-1:45     Break

1:45- 2:45    Tracers Info:  How to get the best from your database

 2:45-3:00    Break

3:00-4:30     Gene Ferraro: Marketing your business


Please note that lunch is on your own.  Notebooks are provided to attendees.

Questions?  Direct them to:

Tan Smyth

VP of Training, PPIAC


Colorado Process Servers Annual Conference and Education Seminar

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Process Servers Association of Colorado

Annual Conference and Education Seminar Agenda

Oct 13, 2012 – 8 am – 5 pm


8:00 – 9:15 am PSACO State of the Association PSACO
9:15 – 10:00 am Selecting the Proper Entity Type and Independent Contractor Rules Victor Amaya – ClearPath Accounts
10:00 – 10:15 am NAPPS Promotion and Growth Ruth Reynolds

NAPPS Director

10:15 – 10:30 am Break  
10:30 – 11:00 am Effecting Service at Hospitals


Richard Reed

Denver Health


11:00 -12:00 pm Mr. Gadget – Devices available covertly documenting service, surveillance and interviews (Live Demo) Stacy Smallwood

Smallwood Investigations

Noon Lunch Break

  • Process Server Stories (Begins at 12:30 pm, in the Meeting Room for those who want to share)
1:00 – 1:45 pm Risk Management – Protecting Your Business and Your Personal Assets Eric Vennes

Pacific Coast Insurance

1:45 – 2:30 pm Online Marketing Trent Carlyle ServeNow
2:30 – 2:45 pm Break  
2:45 -3:15 pm Completing Tough Serves – Techniques Marshall Wolf

Risk PI

3:15– 4:00 pm Handling Contact by Local Law Enforcement and Reporting Process Server Assault Russ Hickmon

Russell A. Hickmon, LLC

4:15 – 5:00 pm
  • Getting Service By Refusal through the Courts and Testifying In Motion to Quash Hearings
  • Closing Statement
Steve Glenn


  • Questions regarding our Industry (Developed by Ron Jamison)
  • Affirmative Defense
  • Trespass
  • Harassment/Stalking



Process Servers Association of Colorado

PSACO Business Meeting Detail

Oct 13, 2012 – 8 am – 9 am


8:00 – 8:15 am Welcome and PSACO Officer Introductions Cindy Johnson

Vice President

8:15 – 8:30 am PSACO Committee Reports

  • Treasury Report
  • Arbitration Committee
  • Education Committee
  • Legislative Committee
  • Membership Committee


Committee Chair
8:30 – 8:45 am By-Laws Amendment(s) Votes Emanual Najee-Ullah
8:45 – 9:15 am State of the Association Steve Glenn