People sometimes hire Private Investigators to work on cases that are concurrently being investigated by law enforcement. In certain instances, law enforcement may provide a welcoming environment for Private Investigators, but they may also resist their efforts. A good Private Investigator knows their limitations and how to work with law enforcement in a productive way.
Police and Private Investigators Work Independently
An example of when a person might hire a Private Investigator is when he or she becomes a victim of burglary. A person who has experienced a burglary may hire a Private Investigator to solve the crime if they believe the police are not doing enough to find the perpetrators. Since police will treat the burglary as an open investigation, they may not divulge police reports and other relevant information to Private Investigators. In these cases, Private Investigators will often conduct their own investigations independently of local law enforcement.
It can be difficult to independently conduct investigations in certain types of cases, such as in homicide cases. Private Investigators should understand that if they do not have sources inside law enforcement, they will likely not become privy to any non-public or confidential information law enforcement possesses. Some members of law enforcement are reluctant to cooperate with Private Investigators in such cases.
Private Investigators should make specific considerations before accepting a case that law enforcement is actively involved in. Often, Private Investigators face a conflict between reporting pertinent information relating to crime and maintaining client confidentiality, although the law in this regard is clear: client confidentiality takes precedence. A client may waive certain aspects of privacy, but other parts will always remain in force, such as the identity of clients. This is particularly true when there is more than one client, and each one has waived different degrees of confidentiality.
Legal Limits for Private Investigators
Private Investigators should inform law enforcement that they and their clients will cooperate with them to the fullest extent and that they will report any crimes they discover. Investigators should also be careful not to divulge to the media any information about a case that could harm its integrity, and they should inform the media that they are cooperating with the police.
These professionals should understand that law enforcement will often consider them adversaries. Investigators should always act professionally, and they should never work against law enforcement in any way. They need to remember that they foremost represent their clients and their clients' best interest.
Education for Private Investigators
The National Investigative Training Academy, Inc. (NITA) provides continuing education courses for Private Investigators. Our State-and Board-approved continuing education and professional development courses can help anyone in the field accomplish their career goals. The exciting world of Private Investigation is ever-evolving, so your education should not stay stagnant. Find out what NITA’s courses in Private Investigation can do for you by calling 1-800-730-NITA or complete our contact form.