What exactly do you do? We all have ideas about private eyes from the movies and TV.
We all get company Ferraris, and Hawaiian shirts are mandatory. Although, I’ll tell you I don’t look as good as Tom Selleck in a moustache.
Do you have a moustache?
No, I don’t. I couldn’t grow one to save my life. It takes me all of November just to grow some stubble. But you know what, in reality, being a private investigator is just another job with a different twist. We’re here to gather information to present to our clients. And really, down to the basics, it’s just a job that anybody can do with the right training. It’s just like any other job where you go to your office and do the task that you are tasked to do.
In terms of training, are you an ex-police officer?
Typically, a lot of PIs come from ex-law enforcement because in their career they have their training as an investigator. And really, what they’re trained to do is look for details, be inquisitive and see the world from a slightly different perspective. It’s not a different world, it’s just that we look at it from a different angle. A lot of training comes from there, but in reality, a lot of individuals will come pre-trained, in that they have the skill sets to pay attention, to recognize details, to remember the differences from here to there. The rest of it is just some minor tweaking before an agency would be able to hire a person and be able to train them. But with new legislation, the government is putting together a course that would assist with training individuals with just the basics.
So the government is introducing standard training?
They are. I think it went into effect in the beginning of July. So, basic training, standardized for all individuals wanting to entre the PI field.
How long have you been doing this?
This is coming up to my 15th year.
How many people work for your company?
We have a team here that ranges from about five or six people.
Does your company have a specialty?
We fall into two major categories. One is insurance fraud investigations. You know, the typical rear-ender, whiplash, slip-and-fall injuries. The other one is, of course, cheating partners — spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends etc.
I’m sure you’ve seen some interesting things. Anything stick out?
Well, you know a lot of the work is, for the most part, mundane. A lot of the files are similar. Go out there, gather evidence, do observation, document it and return it to the client. Occasionally you get some doozies on the domestic side. In the past we’ve caught people having sex in a parking lot in the car. We have the camera on and we try to be as respectul as we can, as discreet as we can in terms of footage, but the footage clearly shows that the two people in the back are not there just to have a conversation. Then you present that to your client and it causes an emotional breakdown in the client. But I would say, good or bad, I think the clients are always better off having honest information; truthful information gathered by someone who’s objective.
Does your business fluctuate with the economy?
Not so much in terms of the economy. More so on the time of year. Certain times we’re busy in certain areas. Such as, Stampede just passed. We have a high demand for domestic investigations during Stampede because there are more parties, there’s more drinking and there’s just more people being at ease with indiscretions. In the summer time we get a lot of insurance investigation because people are out, people are out playing ball, they’re out building fences and whatnot. And they say they’re hurt. Alternately, in the winter, people are shovelling their driveway, their sidewalk, going skiing. I think that an investigation business doesn’t go up and down with the economy as much. It doesn’t swing as wildly as other kinds of business. It is, in some ways, recession proof.
Is this a dangerous profession or is it fairly safe?
It’s fairly safe. It’s not like anything on TV in the States where we carry guns and people are shooting back at us and whatnot. Although it’s mysterious and it sounds exciting, really we’re here to observe. We are hired to make objective observations — good, bad or ugly. If a person claims to be injured, the client just wants to know if, yes they are injured, or no, they aren’t injured and to what extent. And on an infidelity investigation, if the wife suspects the husband of cheating, well, they just want to know the truth. So we’re there to observe and to report back. Generally it’s non-confrontational. We don’t get into their faces. Generally we’re in and out and they’re not even aware that we were there.
I guess that’s the goal isn’t it?
That is the point to it all, yes. Kind of counter-productive when everybody knows they’re being followed by an investigator.
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