Largely influenced by movies and TV shows, there is a widespread misconception that private investigators get in the way of the authorities and solve crimes on their own by breaking laws. The truth, however, is that private investigators are valuable assets in criminal investigations and often work with the police and other law enforcement agencies when the situation calls for it.
You might even find instances where the police force becomes the client of a private investigator. This is because the police may have some of their actions restricted, as officers and enforcers of the law, that a PI, as a private individual, may not be limited by.
Without sufficient evidence to build and support a case, law enforcement can’t step in and take the reins of the investigation. With the help of a good private investigator, enough evidence can be obtained and handed over to the police, so that the latter can take over, pursue the case, and make an arrest.
It’s important to remember, though, that while private investigators aren’t restricted by the law, they are not above the legal system. If a PI acquires evidence by breaking the law, it will most likely be inadmissible in court and would derail the investigation.
Sometimes, a police department can get overwhelmed with a huge volume of cases. They can even be undermanned in some situations. This is where the assistance of private investigators come in – while the police are pursuing priority investigations, they can acquire the services of PIs who can already begin gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses, among others, so that law enforcement can make headway in their other caseloads.
Some private investigators have previously worked on the police force or have military training and/or experience, making their skill set a useful resource when they assist in police investigations.
A Fresh Perspective
Because a private investigator’s working methods usually differ from that of a police detective’s, PIs can uncover things that the latter can immediately find out. They also have resources that may not be as accessible to law enforcement, such as their own previous case files and personal contacts. If need be, a private investigator can even go undercover to collect evidence that may otherwise be unreachable for police officers.
Some PIs may also have certain fields of expertise that the police may need. For example, if the investigation involves intellectual property theft, private investigators are most likely more informed about patents and trademarks compared to police detectives.
Locating People, Serving Warrants
There are some people who have reservations talking to authority figures, especially law enforcement, sometimes out of fear that they would get in trouble, sometimes out of distrust. This makes a private investigator more effective in locating and talking to witnesses and other persons involved in the investigation, as people may be more open to talk to private individuals (and therefore share more details) rather than the police. It is this reason that PIs may also be able to more effectively serve warrants, subpoenas, and other documents.
As an added bonus, private investigators are also an excellent source of lawyer referrals, which can come in handy for witnesses and the police themselves.
Movies and TV shows don’t always get things right, and private investigators are among the “victims”, though there are some PIs that do give the profession a bad rap. However, one shouldn’t be quick to judge private investigators and lump them together as unsavory lawbreakers. In fact, if the police are stumped and keep hitting dead ends, PIs are more than ready to help them catch a break and eventually solve the case.