Since 2018, the number of working private investigators in the United States has been expected to rise exponentially in the coming years. The continued development of the internet, ubiquity of information technology, and the budding applications in both the professional and private sector are all factors that have directly influenced this rise. The private investigation industry has seen a lot of professional transplants, in which individuals who previously worked in a similar or completely different industry have begun the process of getting their private investigator license and opening their own private investigation firms.
Two professional areas that are seeing a lot of transplants are journalism and law enforcement. In their pursuit of the truth behind a good story, journalists are realizing that they can apply private investigator methodology to their journalistic pursuits, and vice versa in applying journalistic integrity to private investigations. In the same process of application, law enforcement officers are finding a third act in their professional lives by transitioning from law enforcement to private investigations.
Private investigator methodology is often compared to that of law enforcement. This is because fact-finding and following leads typically demand the same approach. This makes former law enforcement officials often ideal individuals to become private investigators. Police officers and detectives in particular are natural doers—professionals who thrive on action and progress. As such, many law enforcement officials find retirement disagreeable, and seek to apply their professional knowledge to private investigations.
Police turned private investigators can continue their careers of service to the community. While police turned private investigators can also apply their due-diligence and methodology to corporate investigations, their expertise is best put to use helping families get justice. Former police officers know the system, and in many cases, they remain living in the communities where they served during their retirement—so not only do they know the system, but also THE system in local law enforcement that might have failed to get justice. The reasons why criminal investigations fall apart are not exhaustive. Sometimes local police departments do not have the resources at their disposal to carry out a comprehensive investigation. They might lack the manpower to properly exhaust every lead. As a result, evidence disappears, witnesses disappear or cannot remember details accurately, and the trail towards the truth goes cold.
Police officers and other investigating bodies often run into bureaucratic or jurisdictional issues that prevent them from moving forward with a case. And the lack of communication between departments in different jurisdictions allows suspects and subjects to move between jurisdictions. The result is the same—the trail goes cold. Private investigators are not members of law enforcement. They are not bound by jurisdiction. They are only bound by their limits of licensure. As long as a private investigator is licensed in the state in question, they can follow tips and subjects wherever they lead. Private investigators don’t need substantial evidence to follow someone, nor have to clear their next step with a bureaucratic ladder of command. Private investigators can strike when the iron is hot, and increase the chances that answers will be found.
Police officers’ knowledge of the system allows them to collect evidence and witness accounts with great detail and discipline. They know exactly what law enforcement would be looking for and how thorough to be. They can take special professional care that no evidence is mishandled for later use in a criminal trial, and preserve the integrity of witness testimony by serving as an expert in the courtroom. Testimony of a former police officer always adds another veneer of integrity to the case.