Whether it is an investigation in Orlando or in Costa Rica, I think it is important that my clients and potential clients have a basic understanding of the scope and nature of what an investigation is. Investigation is defined quite simply as a systematic fact finding and reporting process. It is derived from the Latin word investigare, to “search after or trace,” and encompasses a patient, step-by-step inquiry (Collins English Dictionary). Investigation is fact finding; it is closely related to research conducted in the academic arena. Investigation is a multi-disciplined field of study. It encompasses law, the sciences, communications, and a host of other things. Investigation requires attention to detail coupled with an inquisitive mind.
Investigation is a key part of what private investigators do; development of skill sets that allow for, making useful observations. In Florida law enforcement agencies use the practice of drawing personnel for the detective division from the patrol division (FPCA). This generally works well as investigation capabilities are developed within patrol officers.
However, there are those instances where it is counterproductive. A patrol officer in a police or security department may be ill-suited for investigative work. So may a person whose primary training and skills were developed in the military. The skill sets required to quell a disturbance, direct traffic, fight a war or restrain an aggressive subject are not the same as those needed for investigation. An action-oriented person may dislike the occasionally painstaking attention to detail that investigation requires.
Consider the selection process for investigators in public law enforcement. Police departments in Orlando as well as other parts of Florida and the United States select their investigators from the patrol ranks. One of the main requirements used in the selection of an investigator is the ability to write. A great deal of emphasis is placed on this skill as it is crucial to adequately record observations during an investigation.
In Costa Rica the selection process is similar and the writing skills are emphasized as well.
To a large extent, investigators are evaluated on the basis of the reports they produce. Accomplished investigators tend to be accomplished writers. Thomas Byrnes’ writing was complete in detail and description. So too was that of Allan Pinkerton. Henry Fielding was better known as the author of Tom Jones than he is for his management of the Bow Street Runners. A highly developed literary skill is a common trait of investigative CEO’s.
Writings and the use of popular literature have facilitated the development of criminal investigation. For example the writings of Vidocq, Pinkerton and Hoover helped to make them famous. Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels were accurate predictors of future criminality discoveries. One work, A Case of Identity, had Sherlock Holmes tracing a document to a specific typewriter years before this was possible. Leading criminalists, such as Alphonse Bertillon, the developer of Anthropometry, were avid readers of the Sherlock Holmes series.
Individuals with strong ethical standards seem to outlast those that don’t have similar qualities. There are various historical examples of this; yet many instances of unethical behavior occur “under the radar screen”. They are not known to the public or even to researchers. This is particularly true in foreign countries such as Costa Rica. Since there are no licensing requirements in Costa Rica for private investigators it is difficult to know if the investigator is trustworthy. If you speak with someone who does not have a method to accurately report how they spend your money during the course of the investigation, leave that person alone. If they want you to send money via Western Union or Money Gram, leave that person alone as well. I can’t begin to tell you how many frauds are committed via advance payment fee schemes that use Western Union or Money Gram. A legitimate private investigator will have both, a regular bank method to accept retainers and an accounting system to provide you with a detailed accounting of time and expenses.
Thus a good investigation will start with a well seasoned and experienced investigator who develops a plan to accomplish the objectives of the investigation. He will patiently and methodically document his observations and write a comprehensive report specifically detailing those observations. He will keep you, the client informed on a regular basis as to the progress or lack thereof during the course of the investigation. He will seek and encourage your participation before and during the investigation.