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Posts Tagged ‘private investigator’

Continuing Education and the Licensed Investigator

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

In order to make the most efficient use of time and energy at work, most people in this day and age make use of the latest technology and knowledge. For example, if you’re driving an unfamiliar route, you might make use of a GPS navigation device in your car or on your smartphone instead of stopping at a gas station and asking for directions. You’ve hence adapted to the most recent technological advancements.

Likewise, licensed professional investigators are constantly striving to stay abreast of the latest technologies, trends and legal changes to ensure their efforts are completely lawful and make the most efficient and effective use of time and effort. Both the client and the private investigator are rewarded with the advancement, skills and knowledge earned by continuing education. Are you using a licensed private investigator? To verify if the private investigator you are using is licensed in Colorado, or for more information on Colorado’s PI licensing program, please visit http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?c=Page&childpagename=DORA-Reg%2FDORALayout&cid=1251632358945&pagename=CBONWrapper .  To locate a qualified professional investigator through the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado, please visit http://ppiac.org/find-a-pi .

Expanding Your Presence as a Private Investigator

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

In the last several months, the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado has made a push to expand its presence and earn greater recognition across the country. One of the ways PPIAC has done this is by being involved and partnering with other associations, whether they are other state associations, regional associations, national associations, or specialty / certification specific associations.

I recently returned from the National Council of Investigative and Security Services Conference which was held in Boston. PPIAC was represented by several PPIAC members, including past Presidents. There are many reasons why Colorado private investigators should consider attending national investigator association conferences and events. With NCISS, for example, you have an organization which provides an effective voice on federal legislative issues. Also, by attending these events, you can network with investigators across the country. These are just two of the many reasons for being members of and attending events such as what NCISS offers. For more information on NCISS, please visit http://www.nciss.org .

I have often heard of local, small investigator agencies wonder how they can possibly be competitive against national investigative agencies which have investigators available in most if not every state in the US. Being a part of investigator associations, some of which have a national presence, provides an answer to this dilemma. By forming networks with investigators in other states, local investigators can expand their reach. You no longer have to wonder how you can pull a record from a court in California if you have an investigator in that region you can turn to. Better yet, if you get to know the board members of the state associations, CALI being the example of California, you are able to expand your reach to cover literally every city and county of California for which you might ever need to fulfill an investigative request. 

PPIAC’s website now has a page with a list of Colorado’s licensed members. Here is the link to the page: http://ppiac.org/find-a-pi/colorado-licensed

Last but not least, the PPIAC annual conference is just one month away! Please get your payments sooner than later in if you plan to attend the conference. By doing so, the conference committee can better plan for the total number of attendees. For the latest information on the conference, go to http://ppiac.org/training/private-investigator-conference-colorado-springs . New this year is the Private Investigator Core Curriculum which will be held on October 17th, one day before the start of the conference. This unique program is free to attend but an RSVP is required. Details are on the conference web page. Thanks for your continued support of Colorado’s professional private investigator association!

Colorado Private Investigators July Update

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Even though there was no monthly meeting in July, the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado has been busy with other events, activities, and updates. For those who were anxiously awaiting for Colorado’s PI license to take effect, that date finally arrived on July 1st! I’ve already heard from several Colorado licensed private investigators who have received case work directly attributed to being licensed. One of the goals of bringing licensing to CO is to restore consumer confidence in the use of private investigators. It seems like that goal is already being realized. Of course, obtaining a license is no guarantee that a private investigator will receive more work. However, the way I see it, at a price of $320, all I need is half a day’s work to recoup my cost. With that in mind, I like my chances.

Currently, DORA shows there are 47 Colorado licensed PI’s. In speaking with several private investigators, the two main reasons why those who are otherwise qualified have not obtained licenses are cost and lack of time. For the cost portion, the fee is one factor that could not be controlled by the investigative community. DORA, being in charge of administering the program, set the fees. I know that with the economy, times have been tough for many of you. Please bear in mind though, that with just one case you can potentially recoup that cost. For those of you who have not been able to make the time to get your licenses, I’m glad to hear that you’re busy with work and personal activities, including enjoying the always-too-short summer season. However, make no mistake, your support and participation in Colorado’s licensing program is absolutely crucial to the program’s success! In fact, the participation of each and every investigator who is qualified for a Colorado PI license is needed to ensure a long-lived program and the potential for lower fees in future years.

The DORA PI License Program Manager, has agreed take time out of her schedule to be at the August 1st PPIAC meeting to provide information about the licensing program, as well as to answer any questions. Please pencil this date in your calendars and plan to attend if you are interested in learning more about what it means to be a licensed professional.

I was fortunate enough to be able to be a guest presenter at PPIAC’s training seminar on July 13. I always embrace any opportunity to gain more experience in giving presentations. I also learned a lot from the other presenters, and even learned a few new investigative tricks from some of the attendees. The fresh, creative techniques that new investigators bring to the profession never fails to amaze me.

The Conference committee has just released information for the upcoming conference to be held in Colorado Springs this coming October 2012! This year’s conference will showcase the amazing quality of professional investigators that call Colorado their home! Many of these names will already be familiar, some may not. If you’re thinking that you’ve already heard some of these presentations, think again! This panel of speakers will present information that will no doubt be valuable and worth your time and money. Please go to http://PPIAC.org/training/annual-conference for more information.

I have started a new column on the home page of the PPIAC website. The column is entitled President’s Recommendation, and to kick off the column, I chose to profile a book that I recently read. It is entitled Trials and Tribulations of a Real Life Private Eye by John Lajoie. I recommend any private investigator, both highly experienced as well as new to the profession read this book. This is not a how-to book on investigations. Rather, it is a book that provides a no-nonsense insight into the life and mindset of what it takes to be a professional private investigator and business owner. See if you can spot the PPIAC member whose work in a high profile case is mentioned in the book! Please visit http://PPIAC.org/info/presidents-recommendation for more information on the President’s Recommendation column.

The August PPIAC meeting is a little over a week away. Jeff Saviano of JDS Criminalistics in Colorado Springs will be providing a presentation in Forensic Photography. This is a can’t miss meeting that will provide valuable information to help you not only take better photographs but to also help you analyze photographs. Practically every investigator provides some type of photographic documentation to a client at least once in any given year, or otherwise has to analyze photographic documentation/evidence. I look forward to seeing you on August 1st at the PPIAC meeting in Englewood, CO! Please go to http://PPIAC.org for more information and to RSVP.

Integrity in Private Investigations

Monday, July 9th, 2012

In private investigations, integrity is commonly referenced. Practically all investigators espouse and profess to have “it”. It’s a part of many business slogans, models and mission statements. The word is often used, but less frequently practiced. Why is that? Colonel Slade, a character in the movie Scent of a Woman, stated it best: “because it’s just too d*mn hard”.

You either have it, or you don’t. Claiming to have it has seemingly become a business necessity, particularly in investigations. So what is “it”, and what makes “it” so difficult for some to practice? Most importantly, how does investigator integrity affect legal case work? There are many definitions, but essentially integrity requires one to act according to a moral code, a code which extends well beyond the practice of investigations to life itself. It encompasses values like honesty and ethics; and if you have “it” you don’t compromise. Therein lies the difficulty. If you don’t compromise, and adhere to a higher standard, sacrifice is required. The absolute truth can be painful, difficult, brutal and it is human nature to avoid. Integrity occasionally requires one to venture down that road, to open oneself up to criticism. To act with integrity is ultimately not a business decision, but rather a conscious one.

An investigator becomes the eyes and ears of the client. Results presented with integrity involve the facts, and only the facts of the case presented equally. The “good” are not overly highlighted, and the “bad” are not sugar-coated or omitted all together. You need the facts, clear and unbiased to make proper decisions on a case. Do you have absolute faith in your private investigator? Does he/she consistently accept responsibility for his/her actions?

An impressive resume, a slick presentation, a convincing sales pitch: none of it matters without integrity. To truly find a private investigator with integrity, look past this overused word. Instead, look your investigator in the eye and see the person. How do they conduct themselves in this world? That’s what really matters.

– Richard Q.

The Significance of PI Licensing

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Now that private investigator licensing has been restored and implemented in Colorado, many investigators have begun the process of obtaining their Colorado licenses, and some are not quite sure if a license is a worthwhile credential, or a necessity for this profession.  Several previous attempts at a mandatory PI license in the last 34 years had failed to convince Colorado legislators of the critical importance of licensing. In 2011, Colorado legislators finally agreed to pass a law that they felt was acceptable. Colorado, unlike every other state in the country, is unique in it’s licensing law in that it is a voluntary license. What this means is that every private investigator in Colorado has to make the individual decision whether to obtain a license. Some investigators are probably going to wait to see what type of benefits licensed investigators will have before they apply for a license of their own. Let’s take a look at the significance that licensing will have on the investigative profession in Colorado.

The first one is probably the most obvious reason for licensing. Every state with licensing, Colorado included, has statutes restricting licenses to individuals with criminal histories. Different states have different standards. An individual convicted of a felony will have a difficult time ever qualifying for a PI license in any state. Some states are more lenient with certain misdemeanor convictions, or the time that has passed since the misdemeanor conviction and the time of application for a license. Some states do not allow for any misdemeanor convictions at any point for an investigator to obtain and keep a PI license. Besides a background check, state licenses have an experience component for qualifying. States have differing experience provisions, so as a result some are more restrictive than others. By obtaining a license, an investigator can have the distinction of having met the minimum hours for obtaining the license.

As a business owner for a short 6 years, I’ve received many calls in that time span from colleagues across the country looking for a Colorado private investigator. Many of those colleagues, with mandatory licensing states, expect the same standard in a Colorado investigator, and would ask me if I was licensed. After explaining that there was no licensing in Colorado, many of those colleagues were shocked to hear of a lack of licensing standards. It didn’t take too many of those conversations for me to realize I needed to be licensed, regardless of Colorado previously having zero standards. My company obtained licenses in the states of Utah and Kansas. The reason for choosing those states was a practical one. Since my company’s main specialty is surveillance, I wanted to be licensed in bordering states. This way, if I was conducting a surveillance in western Colorado, my case wouldn’t be hindered with my subject crossing into Utah. Likewise if I was conducting a surveillance in eastern Colorado and the subject drove into Kansas. Mind you in my 10 years working as an investigator, I’ve only ever worked one case that originated in Utah, and one that originated in Kansas. It is the peace of mind of knowing that I can follow my subject from Colorado into Utah and Kansas that makes licensing in those states worthwhile. So what does a CO license mean for our colleagues across the country? It means they can readily find an investigator who has undergone similar licensing standards.

Another impact that licensing has for Colorado private investigators is in the legal based work that investigators are involved in. PIs are often hired to work cases that have a legal basis or purpose. Many times those cases will culminate in providing testimony in court or hearing. Licensed investigators can spend less time being qualified to provide testimony, by simply identifying themselves as licensed private investigators. Attorneys and their clients can likewise spend less time qualifying an investigator for their cases.

Another reason for a private investigator to be licensed is for records and database access. In Colorado, for example, there was previously no definition for a private investigator anywhere in Colorado statutes. As a result, there was nothing to distinguish private investigators from the general public. The only way that investigators typically identified themselves to records custodians and database providers was with business cards or business registration documents. There was the potential for an unscrupulous individual to deceptively identify themselves as a qualified investigator to obtain access to a desired record, or worse, gain access to an entire database.

So why should an investigator in practice voluntarily obtain a license when that person readily meets the state requirements and qualifications? A license serves as a credential, a recognition, a distinction, a designation that simply cannot be bypassed if that investigator is committed to being a professional. For those young, up-and-coming investigators that do not yet qualify for a license, the benefits of licensing will hopefully serve as a goal worth working towards. It is the responsibility of experienced, licensed investigators to guide new investigators towards the goal of obtaining their licenses and ensuring the future of this profession for generations to come.

For more information on Colorado’s private investigator licensing program, please visit http://www.dora.state.co.us/private-investigator/index.htm

To find a qualified professional private investigator in your area, please visit http://ppiac.org

Death of the Private Investigator

Monday, October 31st, 2011

For several months now, I’ve seen growing concerns from investigators across the United States regarding the direction of private investigations. These concerns have been raised perhaps as a result of the economy, privacy laws, and even national investigative agencies.

Let’s assume for a moment that those concerns are valid and the scope of the investigations work as we know it will soon be gone and will never be the same. Assume that the private investigator will even cease to exist, as many concerns have been expressed. Does that mean that society simply has no use for the services that investigators provide? Let’s examine the role of the private investigator.

At its core, the private investigator is an information locator and gatherer. The right type of information can be very valuable and powerful to the client. Information therefore is the key to the value a private investigator has to his/her client. However, most clients are becoming more demanding with the information they want. No longer is it enough to provide a client with information simply to satisfy the client’s curiosity. Most clients of the private investigator are looking for a PI because they need information for a current legal action, a pending legal action, or to minimize the possibility of a future legal action. Private investigators must make sure that the information they provide to their clients can withstand legal scrutiny if need be. The investigator who can obtain valuable legally and ethically obtained information will continue to be in demand regardless of outside factors driving the profession. We are, after all, in the information age.

So what should the private investigator do to not only survive, but perhaps thrive in the coming years and even decades? A good start is for us to change our mindset of who we all are. Rather than private investigators, we should look at ourselves as professional investigators, or professional private investigators. The private investigations field will continue to bring never-ending changes. Some changes will be better than others. Some changes should and will be challenged.  Today’s investigator must be willing to embrace the challenges of the changing scope of investigations. For the changes that are inevitable, the successful investigator must be willing to embrace or at the minimum adjust expeditiously to those as well.

Today’s successful investigator must be not only an investigative professional, but a business professional. Being well-versed in business and marketing practices is critical. Many clients, including the private clientele involved in domestic matters, are seeking out investigative firms with a more professional, corporate look and feel. Every facet of the investigator is scrutinized by the client, from the website to the equipment to the knowledge of laws. Even the style of dress is scrutinized. Clients are moving away from choosing investigators with websites containing scandalous, salacious photos of couples “caught in the act” or websites filled with assertions that the investigator is willing to “dig for dirt.” Investigators who maintain a professional demeanor will have a competitive advantage in today’s world.

So are we all witnessing the death of the private investigator? That is unlikely. Rather, I believe that private investigations will continue to evolve and is constantly progressing more and more towards a professional field. For those who already view and hold themselves as professionals, the evolution should be manageable and even welcoming.

Social Network Investigator

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Can Social Network Investigations Make a Difference in Your Cases?

By now, everyone has heard of social networking. It’s not a fad or something restricted to teens. Private investigators utilize the social networks to help them
develop leads, locate individuals, and follow the information to confirm and document the findings. All of this sounds good, but how can it be applied to
your case? Is social networking just a nicety?

Social networking is quickly becoming a massive part of nearly every private investigator’s case. It is an integral part of most people’s lives. Not only do
people open their networking sites almost immediately upon starting up their home computers or netbooks, but many people now use their social networking
applications (such as Facebook and Twitter) on their smart phones 9% more often than they use it on their computer. The need for people to stay connected with
others outpaces their need for privacy.

Private investigators can use this to their advantage. Advanced Professional Investigations checks dozens of social networking sites for your cases, but for our example let’s look at Facebook. Many subjects are among the 800 million active users on Facebook. Facebook posts can provide leads, confirm information, supply photos and hobby data that will help to fill out a case profile that can save both time and money in confirming or denying questionable data.

API is keenly aware of how much time, effort and money social network and internet investigations can save. Subjects that have a prolific presence on the internet use more than one social networking site; searching these sites may provide invaluable information. It is due to these recent developments that API has created the cost-effective Advanced Social Profile Division. If you would like a more extensive search package added to one of your cases, please contact us for pricing. The information gleaned from this often-requested search greatly helps the chances of the case being resolved quickly.

Investigations Rules

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Unwritten Rules of Private Investigations

What do professional private investigators think about?  Here is a checklist for scrutinizing the investigative process:

The Private Investigator is an Extension of the Client.  Advanced Professional Investigations represents you, the client.  Whether it’s in the courtroom or in the field, we always remain aware of the fact that we are your representatives.  We dress professionally, behave accordingly, and never forget that our credibility stems from the way we present ourselves as your representatives in the aspect of investigations, from the beginning of the case to the end.

The Private Investigator must withstand legal scrutiny.  Legal scrutiny may come from at least three different areas:  the investigator themselves, the investigation process, and the evidence produced.

Investigator:  How well do you know your private investigator?  How well do you know their background?  Do they have anything in their past that may come up on the stand?  Restraining orders, stalking and harassment charges and convictions are just a start of what you should know about your investigator’s past history. Do they have a professional demeanor?  Believability and credibility in the eyes of the judge and jury are dramatically affected by the impression that an investigator creates on the stand.  Could your investigator pass this scrutiny?

Investigations:  The methods of investigating a case may come under intense scrutiny when brought to court.  Legal ramifications must always be at the forefront of a private investigator’s thought processes.  Does your investigator know the differences between surveillance and stalking?  Do they know Colorado’s statute regarding harassment?  Do they understand what ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ entails with regard to a surveillance or other private investigation?  Do they understand the pitfalls of GPS tracking devices and certain types of searches in social media? 

Evidence: In this case, evidence describes any documentation produced for a court case. Examples might be a word document, pdf, video or electronic communication.  Will the evidence stand up in court?  For instance, is there a date and time stamp on the video or photo?  Has any documentation been altered or edited?  Was the evidence obtained in a legal manner?

There are many other considerations that we as professional private investigators must take into account. Where does your investigator fit into the process?

Colorado Surveillance Specialists

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

What defines and distinguishes Advanced Professional Investigations is specialized expertise and ethical standards that set the bar in the private investigator field. What we do and how we do it are core to our mission and working philosophy.

Observe

Whether we’re conducting surveillance or another type of private investigation, our purpose is to observe objectively. Our impartiality is your greatest strength.

Record

We obtain expert video surveillance evidence and audio statements that are recorded professionally and legally. We do not use wiretapping or GPS tracking devices.

Report

The culmination of our observations and recordings are delivered to you in a professional and concisely written report.  No opinions.  No speculation.  No suppositions.  Our objective reports provide you with the facts and support you need to make your best case.

Advanced Professional Investigations is a Colorado owned and operated private investigations company, with highly experienced investigators conveniently located throughout the Denver metro area.

We are Denver surveillance specialists, and for that matter we are Colorado surveillance specialists: we wear that hat proudly. Our private investigators each have 10 to 30 years of field surveillance experience. Field experience has a large impact on your bottom line.

Fast Turn Around – Time is money. The quicker we can turn over the results and completed documentation to you, the better. Upon completion of surveillance we send you the report and video within 48 hours.

Did you know API offers Statements and Interviews?
Interviews help you uncover information from potential witnesses that is critical for litigation and to support the facts for your case. API can provide video or voice recorded statements for your cases that have a legal purpose.

Client Interviews and PI Equipment

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

The client will most likely feel like they are being interviewed by the private investigator or detective prior to taking on a case. Ethical and smart private investigators will make sure that the case request is genuine and there is a legal purpose for doing the investigation. The client should be prepared prior to contacting the PI by having a court order, a court case number, attorney contact information, and any other information pertinent to the case to demonstrate the legality and legitimacy of the case. The PI must safeguard against the results being misused. Investigative agencies will likely use a contract which will detail the type of case that is being requested, the uses for the investigation results, and a release of liability holding the private investigator harmless if the results are misused.

An important consideration in hiring a private investigator is to ask what equipment the investigator has pertaining to the specific type of case being requested. Investigators who specialize in electronic bug detection should have equipment on hand to discover wire taps and hidden cameras. Surveillance investigators and operatives who specialize in child custody, family law, employee misconduct, infidelity, court order violations, etc. should have video cameras, still shot cameras, and covert/body worn cameras on hand to conduct surveillance.