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Archive for November, 2012

GPS Tracking in Colorado

Sunday, November 25th, 2012
Advanced Professional Investigations has cautioned against the misuse of GPS tracking technology for years. Why is GPS tracking technology such a grey area for the typical consumer as well as for private investigators in Colorado? API has compiled some recent news articles on GPS trackers and high tech stalking.
 
In this first article, a journalist contacted several California private investigators under a pretext to see if they offered GPS tracking services. The initial responses of the PI’s were disturbing. The journalist likely chose California because of their strict laws on GPS tracking.
http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2012/11/gps_trackers_to_monitor_cheating_spouses_a_legal_gray_area_for_private_investigators.html
 
This next article talks about how stalkers are going high tech to do their dirty deeds. Please note the statistics compiled in a study of how victims are being stalked. The video/digital camera statistic is particularly alarming. The GPS tracking statistic has likely gone up several fold since this study. Over the years, our agency has received many phone calls from individuals whose intent was suspect. Private investigators can never be too careful in screening those cases.
http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121113/NEWS/211130335
 
Of course, like any technology or piece of equipment, there are some perfectly legitimate uses and not everything is for malicious purposes. Here’s a couple of articles that highlight those uses. The second article shows how one Minnesota county is turning the use of GPS tracking against the stalkers. As the use of GPS tracking and other investigative technology expands, API and other professional private investigators will potentially take on the role of educators for the public, and perhaps providing consultations on the proper use of the technology.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/garden/tracking-family-with-gps-dont-forget-the-dog.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
http://www.startribune.com/176700931.html?refer=y

The Importance of Private Investigator Conferences

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

The Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado recently hosted the annual Conference as well as a Private Investigator Core Curriculum day. At these two events, I referred to a recent New York Times article which points out that professionals in different fields and industries are realizing the need to constantly adapt, to retool, and to train to remain competitive in their fields. Workers and business professionals alike are having to figure out what new skills will make them move valuable or simply keep them from obsolescence. The article went on to explain how being a generalist is unwise, and why workers should strive to cross train.With that in mind, PPIAC held topics and presentations at the PICC and Conference designed to provide investigators with current investigative trends, techniques, and specialized training.

The Conference included an investigator ethics presentation which had an electronic instant polling questionnaire. The wide variety of answers at the beginning of the presentation proved to be an eye opening experience for attendees. However, towards the end of the presentation, the answers became much more consistent among the attendees. The conference also included presentations on social media, homicides, concealed carry, death and injury causation, e-evidence retention, vehicular accident investigations, a panel discussion, self publishing, and inmate interviews. The vendors provided some excellent profession-specific products and services. The keynote speaker provided a loose, lively presentation on the history and progress of Westword magazine. I thank all the conference sponsors, vendors, notebook advertisers, material/prize donors, attendees, and last but not least, the presenters who helped make this conference a success.
 
While at the conference, I had the privilege of presenting this year’s Lifetime Membership Award to Dean Beers for his outstanding contributions to PPIAC. From his Board contributions as the VP of Membership, to Board Chairman, as well as his contributions to the PI licensing effort, to his well attended and received presentations at PPIAC monthly meetings and conferences, the Board had an easy decision in approving Dean for this well-deserved award.
  
The details for the PPIAC Holiday party have been finalized! This year PPIAC will be holding the party on December 15th from 6-9 p.m. at Water 2 Wine located at 9608 E. Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village, CO 80112. Water 2 Wine will be offering a cash bar with any glass of wine from their menu at $5/glass. Parking is free with easy access off I-25. There will be food catered by the Food Guy Catering. In order to plan for the food catering, entrance to the Holiday party will be limited to PPIAC members and 1 guest only, and RSVP’s are REQUIRED. Here is the website link to Water 2 Wine: http://www.water2wine.com/dtc/
 
Are you a private investigator and not a member of PPIAC? Contact PPIAC and apply for membership TODAY to take advantage of the great benefits PPIAC offers to its members! Here is the website for more information: http://ppiac.org

Responsible Locate Investigations

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

As professional private investigators we receive many requests to locate individuals. Over the years I’ve received requests to locate old college roommates, adoptees looking for birth parents, witnesses, beneficiaries, war veterans looking to be reunited with their fellow servicemen and friends and family members that have lost touch with one another. Although it may give us a warm, fuzzy feeling to be part of a joyous reunion we should always keep in mind the possibility of a worse case scenario such as those unwilling to be found. In my experience, approximately 70% of individuals fall into this category. Our office’s policy is not to report information about such individuals without their permission. Two exceptions are attorney-requested witness locates and skip trace information – both of which have a legal basis for the relinquishing of information.

It’s the investigator’s duty to conduct these searches responsibly and keep in mind that there is a reason contact was lost and perhaps it was the choice of the person being sought. For example, adoptees may have a romantic idea of learning where they came from, envisioning a joyful, teary reunion, but the reality is that it may have been a traumatic event resulting in shame and secrets for the birth parent and might disrupt a current household and family. And your client may not be forthright with the entire truth, either. The man looking for his long lost son due to a bitter divorce may have actually been the abuser and unreported domestic violence was the reason they lost touch. The brother that says he wants nothing more than to be reunited with his sibling after 25 years, may be omitting that there were undisclosed psychological and physical assault issues that left that sibling afraid and forced him to go into hiding. These are all real life cases I’ve encountered over the years that repeatedly reinforce our policies. It is the private investigator’s responsibility to conduct due diligence on these, as on all cases. Ask for supporting documents. Is the person truly behind in child support? Is there a judgment or court case involved? Don’t just take your client’s word as gospel. The “truth” can be tricky and the perception of it may vary from that of another person in a story.

Let the other 30%, the subject being sought, give you that all-too rare career high in a business that is by nature serious and often cynical: the war veteran revisiting those he fought alongside; a parent being reunited with a kidnapped child; the high school sweethearts who lost touch for decades. There is a personal side to what we do.

Our ability as investigators to find people can make a difference in someone’s life. It’s critical to remember that it may be good or bad and could potentially create liability if not handled correctly.

This article was published in Pursuit Magazine at http://pursuitmag.com/responsible-locate-investigations-by-private-investigators/