Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bonding and Busting

When you are an Investigator and you meet another Investigator, there's an instant bonding.

I did not notice this in my previous professions in the corporate arena.
In those, it felt like alliances were dalliances... two potential opponents in the ring sized each other up and sparred.
It took a while for working friendships to develop and those alleged friendships often remained subconsciously or overtly suspect due to the nature of the business.
The working world is hugely competitive and in most professions, people are as busy watching their own behinds as they are their employers'.

I think Investigators, we P.I's especially, are a different breed.
Even when we are employed by a larger entity -- like a federal, state or county investigative agency, a public defenders office, a detective agency -- we spent most of our time alone.

First there's the driving.... endless driving.
We are acutely aware of the amount of gas in our tanks, the air in our tires, and the health and well being of our beloved GPS.
We travel to and from people's homes or coffee shops when they're too uncomfortable to let a stranger --especially an Investigator -- in their homes. 

Most people... I'd say about 75%-80%... let me in their homes, because they feel more comfortable discussing private issues there, than a coffee shop.
And in their own homes, they can have people present, protection from the unknown.
There's usually at least a second set of ears listening somewhere.
Sometimes those ears are on people you see, seated next to the person you are talking to... a spouse, kid, neighbor, parent.
In many cases, people you can't see are listening... with other ears strategically placed and hidden behind doors and walls when I conduct my interviews. 

More than once, I've been told upon exiting a residence, that our conversation was tape recorded or video recorded.
This, of course, pissed me off  to a huge extent, though I contain that and simply say, "You know that's not allowed in Washington state. This is a two party consent state and recording me without my consent is illegal. In other words, it's a criminal action."

I take it no further than that, just exit.
I'm not there to cause any more trouble than these people already have.
And every time I walk into a contained environment, be it an apartment, trailer, or mansion, I imagine Chris Hanson and his Dateline team in another room, recording every word.

I am always aware, whenever I interview anyone... witness, defendant, plaintiff, there is a possibility my words and presence are being recorded without my consent. That my words could appear in front of a jury or in a newspaper.
So I always say and do the right, legal things.
No matter what.

I will not cross the boundaries that federal or state law have in place for Investigators to protect others' privacy. I  will not push, demean, berate, disrespect the subject of my interviews.
The closest I ever come to turning up the heat, is offering a reluctant, yet pivotal witness, the opportunity to give me that statement, or to be served a subpoena and be deposed for their statement.
They usually choose the former, because the latter is no one's idea of a good time.

On an average work day, which can be any.... as I am on call 24/7.... I often travel hundreds of miles daily to meet people. To enter their homes. To see their lives. To investigate a case. Get a statement. Or gather evidence. Whatever the reason, there is often more time spent getting to the job than doing the job.

Which means much isolation on the road for a self-employed Private Investigator.
Hours and hours alone.
You know every rest stop, truck stop, weigh station, gas station and radio station as you cruise I5 and the  high speed corridors that lead there. 

Then when you get the back to the office, or home office.... the day's case notes must be written up. Other cases must be attended to. Calls have to be made. The work continues to stream until you put a stop to it. So much buzzes through the head of a busy PI, there is little time for talk of the things we see, the injustices, the cruelties, aberrations.

So when you get two or more PI's together, there is a brother/sisterhood there with implicit confidentiality. We know if we can trust no one else, we can trusts the other PI's we have worked with over the years on all kinds of investigations -- from high visibility cases covered by media, to low profile, down and dirty domestics.

That's why we call each other when we need a second opinion, an expert witness, a different point of view. We investigators, we are kindred spirits. And while we score victories every day, the general public seldom sees it.

The case I am linking you  is current and to tells you more about how pivotal a P.I.'s work is in the justice system.
And how for some of us, confidentiality is so necessary, attorneys will work with us to keep our names out of the public arena.

The link to the story that follows is an example of this.
In this article, please note... the arms that knocked down the alleged house of cards belonged to Private Investigators.
You will also notice the Investigators' names aren't mentioned in the article.
Most of us like it that way.

Here's the link:

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