Note: this is the first part of a multi-part series on private investigations basics.
If you want to be able to gather information, you need to develop some skills in the human interaction department. To a lot of people, these skills come naturally. Whether it is because of how they were raised, or because they have a personality that helps them interact with others. The rest of us have needed to learn some of these skills, to become professional investigators.
I cannot tell you all of the reasons that people like or dislike others. Nor can I tell you why people trust or fear other people (in each case). Sometimes it is even difficult to understand why people are attracted to or repelled by others. There are many college courses and books on these subjects, but it usually boils down to past experiences, yours and theirs.
If you want to become an effective investigator, you must be aware that there are many things in your whole basic make-up that can make an impression upon others – be it good or bad. This can come down to your choice of shoes, the type of deodorant or cologne/perfume you use, your facial expressions, the kind of body language you display, and of course your voice tone and phrasing. We cannot fail to mention your sex, race, and your upbringing. These all factor into how people see you.
The basics of investigation pretty much is gathering and analyzing information. The information you most often get is from others’ statements. Of course, there is the obvious evidence (like photos and video) but usually most of the evidence you gather will be the statements made by people themselves. No case can be “solved”, assets recovered, or missing people be located without the investigator successfully gathering information. There is no one skill that will make you a good investigator, you need to develop many skills, know your strengths and weaknesses, and be aware of how you have been fooled in the past.
Things are not like they used to be. Today when someone hires a private investigator, or private detective, it is often their last hope to get resolution to their issues or find out what has gone on behind their backs. You biggest cases often will be driven by strong emotion on the part of the client. As an investigator, you may not be solving a crime, but simply trying to discover the truth from a past incident. Anyone who has worked criminal cases knows it is usually easier to solve the crime than it is to discover the truth in a case.
More often than not, the client does not need to solve a crime, but wants to find the truth. You may never be able to find the truth, but you can often find enough facts and evidence that can let the client feel they now know the truth. This is often the case in domestic cases, whether it is the cheating spouse or the family members that have concerns for a child’s welfare. Of course, we all have come across the client that was not satisfied until we “catch” someone cheating or mistreating a child.
It is true that things are not like they used to be. Yet in many ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same. There really isn’t a big difference in how people behaved 100 years ago and how they are now. People are pretty much the same, they have the same “blindness” to issues (though the issues are often different) and the same deceptive tendencies. Another thing that has not changed is the information you need:
Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
Before you start the investigation, you need to know what questions have already been answered. And you need to know if they have indeed really been answered. Then you need to get the answers to the unanswered ones. That sounds simple enough. It often is simple, but usually never easy.
Investigators always have at least these three methods or techniques to use to update information:
· Researching public records
· Interviewing individuals who possess relevant information
· Surveillance of individuals to learn about their behavior
There are occasions that all of the key questions can be answered without having to do all three of the above methods. On many occasions, I have solved a multitude of cases with information from public records and interviews. However, you need to be able to do all three methods to be a successful investigator.
Whatever you do - stay safe!