A common misconception (often perpetuated through media and entertainment) is that there is a fundamental animosity shared between law enforcement and private investigators (PI’s.) There may be some truth in that amongst the countless law enforcement agencies and PI firms across the nation, but, each entity realizes that they serve a distinct purpose and can benefit from a working relationship with the other. A professional PI firm is valued by law enforcement as an extension of the investigative process to provide assistance with follow-up interviews, individual background research, surveillance, and evidence processing. At any stage of the investigative process the private investigator can step in to assist. So, what’s the difference in regulations and laws for each?
First, it’s important to know some of the general rules regarding conduct for law enforcement versus private investigators. As a matter of law, police and federal law enforcement agencies have specific rules and regulations they must follow when conducting official business. During the process of investigating a complaint, law enforcement agents (both local and federal) are held to specific laws and standards, which, if broken, can result in sanctions as a deterrent to future inappropriate actions. That is, for example, any evidence originating from an action deemed illegal, such as an illegal search, can be eliminated from trial as “fruit of a poisonous tree.” Throughout the years, federal and local case law has evolved in an attempt to clarify the broad definitions of the Constitution, designed to protect citizens (and noncitizens) from an over-intrusive government. As a matter of common knowledge, most people understand that law enforcement must “play by the rules” or suffer the consequences. However, many people don’t consider the differences between citizens conducting an investigation (PI’s) and sworn law enforcement.
So, what makes for a healthy law enforcement / PI relationship? In a word, rapport — and that doesn’t come easy. Establishing rapport requires mutual trust and a willingness to engage, not to mention respect. Not all private investigators are made from the same mold – qualifications, experience, and ethics vary. The good ones often stand out and develop a solid reputation with law enforcement in their respective communities. Whether it’s exculpatory information helping to exonerate an innocent suspect, or new evidence shining light on an unidentified suspect who might have otherwise escaped justice, the well-established professional PI develops that ever-elusive rapport with law enforcement to build necessary respect.
FORLETTA Investigative/Security Consultant employs a team of experts comprising over 100 years of investigative experience, many of whom have trained entire law enforcement agencies. Larry Forletta is a former DEA agent and Maryland State trooper and has worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between private investigators and law enforcement. As a private investigator, he has consistently worked alongside law enforcement and continues to contribute regularly to ongoing criminal and civil investigations. If you need the services of a well-respected private investigator, call FORLETTA today at 1-877-874-9394 or look us up at http://www.fcisllc.com/.