Police Detective to Private Investigator – the transition


Early private investigators were hired for cases that clients thought the police were not able or willing to handle. One of the larger roles of private investigators was to investigate labor disputes. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency was one of the largest established in 1850 and the first known to hire a woman in 1856. Pinkerton became famous when he foiled a plot to assassinate President-Elect Abraham Lincoln. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency has grown and changed over time.

Making the transition from a police investigator to a private investigator is not always an easy one. The first step is to separate fact from fiction, what exactly is a private investigator and what are the parameters. Much like being a police investigator, private investigators are people who are paid to gather facts. The only difference is instead of working for a government agency they work for private citizens or businesses. Although you can help solve crimes as a private investigator, your primary responsibility is to your client, to gather facts, collect information and evidence. Facts and evidence can then be provided to your client as well as police to support their investigation for a possible arrest and prosecution. Establishing trust between law enforcement and the investigator is important step in being successful.

Police detectives often receive requests from citizens asking for help on their individual cases. As a private investigator, there is an opportunity to use what you know in order to help those in need of your expertise. Most of these requests come from citizens who feel the police are too busy to give their concerns the personal attention they crave. Unfortunately, police agencies are overwhelmed and overworked and even with the best intentions, cannot always give their cases all the time they would like.   It’s important to remember that most officers do the best that they can with the circumstances they are provided. If you establish your willingness to work with the local police and share information, they will do the same with you. The end result is always to establish the facts and resolve the case.

The client will not always be happy with the conclusion of a case, but if you do a thorough investigation and provide an accurate account they are more likely to be appeased, no matter the outcome.

Lisa Schoneman is an investigator for Peeler Group International who has over 25 years of law enforcement experience in major investigations. Peeler Group International telephone: 888.842.8274


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