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  • Private Investigators?

    Private investigations is a career field that interests me. My main goal is to become a police officer, but there is a possibility that wont work out. Regardless, I would like a career in law enforcement, and a PI job seems interesting. I do have some questions about it.

    How similar is police work and private investigator work? Would it be more similar to a police detective?

    Right now I'm going to college for Business administration, would a PI position favor a degree in Criminal Justice? I really would have no problem switching my degree to CJ if it would help me obtain a position in law enforcement better.

    Is the hiring process similar to that of police departments, or as thorough?

    What about weapons? Are PIs usually expected to carry a concealed weapon? I know this most likely differs from state to state, I am in Virginia.

  • #2
    You need to find out what state agency is responsible for licensing PIs in Virginia and go to their website and look up the minimum qualifications needed to get licensed.

    A CJ degree won't do anything for a PI. If you want to be a PI, I assume eventually you want your own business instead of working for someone else, so stay with the business degree.

    Your work depends on your cases. A lot of it is following people around, taking photos and film, etc. of what they are doing and who they are with.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by RaiderIII View Post
      Private investigations is a career field that interests me. My main goal is to become a police officer, but there is a possibility that wont work out. Regardless, I would like a career in law enforcement, and a PI job seems interesting. I do have some questions about it.

      How similar is police work and private investigator work? Would it be more similar to a police detective?

      Right now I'm going to college for Business administration, would a PI position favor a degree in Criminal Justice? I really would have no problem switching my degree to CJ if it would help me obtain a position in law enforcement better.

      Is the hiring process similar to that of police departments, or as thorough?

      What about weapons? Are PIs usually expected to carry a concealed weapon? I know this most likely differs from state to state, I am in Virginia.
      Private Investigator's have been the grist for numerous movie and television plots. Some were pretty good. In the real world, most Private Investigator's are retired Law Enforcement Officers. They are usually regulated by a State Agency, which can vary from state to state. There are many local requirments as well. Business licenses, office rent, the list goes on. Some of the more successful PI's have ongoing relationships with Attorneys, especially those who do contested divorces, or other litigation. For example, a person may claim he is disabled due to injuries sustained in an accident. Attorney engages a PI, who video's our incapacitated hero playing the back nine at a local golf course. Claim for damages goes out the window. As far as concealed carry is concerned, a PI will be governed by all applicable state and local laws. A retired LE Officer could probably carry under HR 218, but he'd be subject to all applicable laws with respect to use of the weapon. These thoughts are by no means all inclusive, and I'm certain you'll recieve some additional information.

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      • #4
        My wife was a PI for a while. The biggest problem was the attorneys not paying up. She was in court 2-3 times a month, filing against the attorney's who had hired her.

        And it ain't like TV. The hours are lousy, it's hard to get paid, there is zero glamor, the clients are uniformly ugly, and they hang out in dumps. No high speed chases, gunfights, cuffing people (unless you are also a bail bondsman), and most cops have a low opinion of PI's.
        "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
        John Stuart Mill

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        • #5
          On the plus side, unless you're working as an agent for the police, you won't have to worry much about the 4th and 5th amendment rights of others when you're out privately detecting.

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          • #6
            You may also be investigating accidents for lawyers. Taking statements, photos of cars and the street...boring stuff.
            The lawyer makes themselves look good to the client by saying "I've got my investigator on it already"..
            You MAY serve PFA's or subpoenas, depending on your client base. A lot of sitting in you car waiting for a subject to exit a building.. darn you missed the shot..... Gotta follow them around again....

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            • #7
              "On The" is right - to an extent. You can still get sued for depriving someone of their civil rights - in Federal Court.

              Plus - enter a home without a search warrant - could be charged a burglary or even home invasion. Try to arrest someone, could be charged as agg. assault.

              And, you usually have no backup, and the lawyer you are working for will NOT defend you for free.

              No Sir, not at all like the movies. An acquaintance of mine got sucked in for some 'bail bond' work - the couple got killed, turned out is was a home invasion gang run by a bail bondsman. He is now doing life without parole.
              Be afraid, be very afraid.
              "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
              John Stuart Mill

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              • #8
                In Texas most PIs are glorified security guards. I dont know any agency that has any respect for PIs unless of course the PI is a retired LEO. As far as im concerned they are in the same class as bounty hunters. They get no respect from me.
                Conduct every traffic stop extending the olive branch of peace; while having a tactical plan to kill everyone inside the vehicle. - Gordon Graham

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                • #9
                  Haven't been doing this for very long, but so far working as a PI (criminal defense) is very similar to working as an investigator when I was a LEO: interviewing witnesses and writing up their statements. There is the issue of hot, sultry women in the new job, but (as a non-smoker) I really try not to get involved with them so much. (Besides they always end up trying to kill you. )
                  "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

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                  • #10
                    Check out these sites:
                    http://www.asisonline.org/
                    http://www.ifpo.org/index.html
                    http://www.acfe.com/
                    http://www.losspreventionfoundation.org/about_us.html
                    http://www.crimetime.com/licensing.htm
                    http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/how...vestigator.cfm

                    While you will not qualify for most of the programs they mention, they do have information, publications and links to other sites with in the field. You can use the information from the sites to gain a better understanding of a PI.

                    Also a CJ degree may be used in place of some of the experience requirements in some states. Other states may exempt you from some training requirements with a CJ or related degree. I didn't see anything for this when I skimmed through the VA web site.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RaiderIII View Post
                      Private investigations is a career field that interests me. My main goal is to become a police officer, but there is a possibility that wont work out. Regardless, I would like a career in law enforcement, and a PI job seems interesting. I do have some questions about it.

                      How similar is police work and private investigator work? Would it be more similar to a police detective?

                      Right now I'm going to college for Business administration, would a PI position favor a degree in Criminal Justice? I really would have no problem switching my degree to CJ if it would help me obtain a position in law enforcement better.

                      Is the hiring process similar to that of police departments, or as thorough?

                      What about weapons? Are PIs usually expected to carry a concealed weapon? I know this most likely differs from state to state, I am in Virginia.
                      PI's have nothing to do with LE.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In PA you must have been an ex-cop or current cop with XXX hrs of work experience to be certified.

                        You CANNOT serve PFA's or arrest warrants.

                        Most that I personally know are retired state troopers with great connections and well respected and make boo-koo money working for insurance companies investigating fraud.

                        G-man
                        1*

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