How To become a private eye
A Private Eye (often abbreviated to PE and informally called a private eye), a private detective or inquiry agent, is a person who can be hired by individuals or groups to undertake investigatory law services. Private detectives/eyes often work for attorneys in civil cases.
In 1833, Eugène François Vidocq, a French soldier, criminal and privateer, founded the first known private detective agency, "Le Bureau des Renseignements Universels pour le commerce et l'Industrie" ("The Office of Universal Information For Commerce and Industry") and hired ex-convicts. Official law enforcement tried many times to shut it down. In 1842, police arrested him in suspicion of unlawful imprisonment and taking money on false pretences after he had solved an embezzlement case. Vidocq later suspected that it had been a set-up. He was sentenced for five years with a 3,000-franc fine but the Court of Appeals released him. Vidocq is credited with having introduced record-keeping, criminology and ballistics to criminal investigation. He made the first plaster casts of shoe impressions. He created indelible ink and unalterable bond paper with his printing company. His form of anthropometrics is still partially used by French police. He is also credited for philanthropic pursuits, he claimed he never informed on anyone who had stolen for real need.
After Vidocq, the industry was born. Much of what Private Eyes did in the early days was to act as the police in matters that their clients felt the police were not equipped for or willing to do. A larger role for this new private investigative industry was to assist companies in labor disputes. Some early Private Eyes provided armed guards to act as a private militia.
In the United Kingdom, Charles Frederick Field set up an enquiry office upon his retirement from the Metropolitan Police in 1852. Field became a friend of Charles Dickens and the latter wrote articles about him. In 1862, one of his employees, the Hungarian Ignatius Paul Pollaky, left him and set up a rival agency. Although little-remembered today, Pollaky's fame at the time was such that he was mentioned in various books of the 1870s and immortalized as "Paddington" Pollaky for his "keen penetration" in the 1881 comic opera, Patience.
In the United States, Allan Pinkerton established the Pinkerton National Detective Agency a private detective agency in 1850. Pinkerton became famous when he foiled a plot to assassinate then President-Elect Abraham Lincoln in 1861. Pinkerton's agents performed services which ranged from undercover investigations and detection of crimes, to plant protection and armed security. It is sometimes claimed, probably with exaggeration, that at the height of its existence the Pinkerton National Detective Agency employed more agents than the United States Army. Allan Pinkerton hired Kate Warne in 1856 as a private detective, making her the first female private detective in America.
During the union unrest in the US in the late 19th century, companies sometimes hired operatives and armed guards from the Pinkertons. In the aftermath of the Homestead Riot of 1892, several states passed so-called "anti-Pinkerton" laws restricting the importation of private security guards during union strikes. The federal Anti-Pinkerton Act of 1893 continues to prohibit an "individual employed by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, or similar organization" from being employed by "the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia."
Pinkerton agents were also hired to track western outlaws Jesse James, the Reno brothers, and the Wild Bunch, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The Pinkerton agency's logo, an eye embellished with the words "We Never Sleep," inspired the term "private eye."
About The Private Investigative Profession in Florida, How is it managed?
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Licensing, licenses and regulates the private investigative industry in accordance with Chapter 493, Florida Statutes. Private Eyes and private investigative agencies serve in positions of trust. Untrained and unlicensed persons or businesses, or persons not of good moral character, are a threat to the public safety and welfare. The private investigative industry is regulated to ensure the interests of the public are adequately served and protected. This information has been made available to inform Florida citizens about licensing requirements.
A Private Eye is any individual or agency who, for consideration, advertises as providing or performs the following activities. Individuals or agencies providing or advertising as providing these services for consideration must be licensed.
- Subcontracting with the government to determine crimes or wrongs done or threatened against the United States
- Determining the identity, habits, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, reputation or character of any society, person, or group of persons
- The credibility of witnesses or other persons
- The whereabouts of missing persons, owners of abandoned or escheated property, or heirs to estates
- The location or recovery of lost or stolen property
- The causes or origin of fires, libels, slanders, losses, accidents, damage, or injuries to real or personal property
- Securing evidence to be used before investigating committees or boards of award or arbitration or trial of civil or criminal cases
- Individuals or agencies providing or advertising as providing these services for consideration must be licensed.
How many Types Of Licenses For Individuals
- Class "C"- Private Eye
- Class "CC"- Private Eye Intern (Approved Courses)
- Class "M" or "MA"- Manager of a Private Investigative Agency
- Class "A"- Private Investigative Agency
- Class "AA"- Private Investigative Agency Branch Office
Private Eye Reciprocity
Florida has entered into reciprocity agreements with several other states, clearing the way for how Private Eyes licensed in Florida and to conduct business in those states. Similarly, investigators in those states that are parties to these agreements have the right to pursue investigations in Florida.
These agreements are intended to facilitate the investigative process. For example, an investigator initiating a case in one of the reciprocity states can now follow the case across state lines into other reciprocity states until that investigation is successfully concluded without having to obtain a license in those states.
This reciprocity initiative benefits both the private investigative industry and the general public by eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic oversight and reducing operating expenses for investigative agencies.
What Does a Private Eye Actually Do?
- Assist attorneys in preparing court cases. In civil cases, they might work for either side. In criminal cases, Private Eyes almost always work for the defense. (The police have their own investigators on staff; they are called detectives.) They locate participants, document alleged crime scenes, and interview witnesses. In short, they do anything that’s needed for the case. And by the way, it’s their job to be impartial, not to advocate for any side. Sometimes they end up delivering bad news about witnesses or evidence to their attorney clients; it’s the attorney’s job to decide what and how to deal with the court case.
- Child custody cases, where they determine who is actually caring for the children and if they are in a safe and healthy environment.
- Cases of business fraud, where they document shady behavior such as secret meetings with competitors and sales of “exclusive” franchises to multiple buyers in the same areas.
- Insurance fraud cases, where they sleuth out the “disabled” who claim they are too physically injured to work but can still miraculously go snowboarding or load cases of beer into their trucks.
- Counterfeit merchandise or stolen merchandise cases, where they often pose as buyers to document the transactions and get the physical evidence.
- Locations of individuals for a multitude of reasons, often happy reasons like inheritance or long-lost friends or relatives. They always check out the client carefully in locate cases, because they do not want to facilitate a stalker; and while they are happy to pass on the client’s contact information and relay any message back, they will not deliver the located person’s contact information to the client without permission from the located person.
- Workplace investigations, where they do their best to document internal theft, lack of security, or harassment issues within companies.
- Difficult process service, where the individual to be served court papers has been evading normal service.
- Deal with paranoid schizophrenics. Sadly, some potential clients who call them for help soon reveal themselves to be mentally ill and are usually off their medications. In these cases, they try to reassure them that government agents are not camped out in their backyards, aliens are not beaming x-rays at their heads, and/or their neighbors are not breaking into their apartments at all hours of the day and night. They recognize that these individuals are truly frightened. They also try to find a relative, medical professional, or appropriate social service to help get the person back into proper care.
- And yes, they do occasionally surveil suspected cheating spouses and domestic partners, but only in cases where there is no history whatsoever of violence or threats between the two parties. Just like locates, they carefully check out the client because they do not want to facilitate a stalker or promote aggression. Some of these cases have to do with divorcing spouses suspecting the other of hiding assets prior to a divorce being finalized. And in many cases, they find the person in question to be innocent of the accusation.
Unlike Private Eyes on television, in real life Private Eyes have no special powers. They cannot legally break into buildings, trespass on private property (except in certain cases of process serving), or threaten or intimidate anyone, and they certainly don’t run around shooting guns, although some Private Eyes carry weapons for protection. In general, they have to be even more careful than the average citizen not to break any laws, because they are more likely to be sued or prosecuted for any violations.
The World Association of Professional Investigators, WAPI, is a professional body formed by professionals, for professionals practicing in all areas of investigation. WAPI meets the need for a worldwide organization which can provide a focal point for investigators. WAPI promotes the investigative profession internationally and provides networking opportunities through which members can exchange ideas, knowledge, methods, advice, education and working assignments.
What are the aims and objectives of WAPI?
The Association’s aims and objectives are:
- To promote and uphold the image and status of investigation as an international profession.
- To provide educational facilities and resources through associated organizations leading to internationally recognized professional, academic and vocational qualifications.
- To publish and abide by a strict Code of Ethics.
- To present a unified ‘voice’ for the Profession.
- To provide an arbitration service to resolve disputes between members.
How to become a Private Eye
Research the requirements in your area. Almost all US states and many countries require a certain level of education or experience to earn a Private Eye license. The information below will help you qualify in most cases, but it's best to check the law in the area where you plan to work.
Study applicable subjects in college (recommended). Many regions do not require a four-year degree, but it is still highly recommended for anyone without relevant work experience. Complete a two- or four-year degree in criminal law, criminal justice, or police science.
Evaluate your character traits. Your idea of Private Eye work is probably a lot more glamorous than the real thing. Most of your work will involve online research, surveillance, and preparing records for court presentations. This takes someone with particular skills and temperament.
Prepare for boredom. You may think of being a Private Eye as working in a smoky, dark office in a sketchy area of town while damsels in distress line up at your door. In reality, you'll be spending hours in your parked car in the middle of suburbia unable to make a run to Taco Bell even though you're starving because Joe Schmo could come out at any minute. You'll get bored.
Get stealthy. While it depends on the specific line of work you get into, odds are you'll get a case at least here and there where you have to be sneaky. Wherever you go, you need to blend in. Being loud and proud won't get you anywhere on your case
Take training courses (recommended). As valuable as a criminal justice degree can be, it may not cover the practical side of surveillance and database access. Experienced PIs say that hands-on training is the most important step for someone entering the field. Many courses are relatively cheap and only last a few days.
Apply to entry level positions. Existing detective agencies often have open entry-level positions, although this might not involve a steady paycheck. The agency should provide on-the-job training until you gain enough experience to become a proper Private Eye. This typically takes a few years.
Get your license. If a license is required in your area, take the exam as soon as you qualify. Your license will permit you to work as a Private Eye, with the right to access certain databases and perform surveillance. You may continue to work for a private agency, or apply to Private Eye jobs at corporations, government agencies, and law firms.
PRIVATE DETECTIVE AND EYE CAREER
Investigators and private eyes discover facts employing a number of different methods. Different types of surveillance and search techniques are used to conduct investigations. Detectives or eyes may place phone calls or visit places of employment to verify facts about someone’s work or income. They conduct interviews in order to generate as much background information on someone as possible, especially when conducting background checks or searching for missing persons. Private individuals, lawyers, and businesses all receive assistance from Private Eyes and detectives regarding a number of money, law, and personal related issues.
Personal protection services for celebrities, businesses, and corporate executives by investigators and private detectives. They may also aid in background checks, fact verification for employment, investigations concerning injury lawsuits and liability, child support and custody battles, fraudulent insurance claims investigations, and a variety of other situations. An increasing number are being hired to investigate a spouse or partner’s fidelity.
Detectives and investigators typically have received some training with regards to on-site surveillance, often stationed for long hours in a car observing a property or person. They pursue the required evidence by using cell phones, binoculars or scopes, and video recording equipment.
Computers provide instant access to much personal information that may be relevant to an investigation namely, phone numbers, criminal history, club or group memberships; car registrations; etc.
What exactly a detective or investigator does depends on the client. In an investigation sponsored by an employer into a suspected fraudulent compensation claim, detectives may observe the employee for long periods of time; when the employee did something that provided evidence that the claim was fraudulent, the investigator would take video or photographs to report the findings to the employer.
Many detectives and investigators choose to specialize. For example, those specializing in intellectual property theft track pirates and assist their clients in stopping the illegal activities. They also provide evidence for lawyers in court proceedings. Others focus on financial and estate affairs, conducting interviews, researching public documents, and carrying out investigations to profile someone’s assets or resources.
Legal investigators typically work with court cases and are paid by attorneys and law firms. The assist with preparing defense cases, conducting interviews of the police that handled the incident and witnesses, collect and analyze evidence, and deliver papers and files. These investigators also prepare documents for courts, conduct background investigations on persons involved in the court case, and may even give testimony in court.
Corporations may employ investigators, aptly named corporate investigators, to investigate internal and external circumstances and situations. In-house, these investigators may look into suspected workplace drug use, merchandise theft, or misuse of company funds. The primary focus of external investigations involves crimes committed against the company, such as false billing by suppliers.
When a large amount of money is involved with a company transaction, financial investigators may be hired to look into the financial backgrounds of individuals and businesses involved. Many of these investigators are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and have experience with banking and accountancy. Court-mandated damages to be paid may be recovered by careful investigations conducted by financial investigators into financial assets.
The primary focus of store detectives is to protect merchandise from theft and hinder thieves and shoplifters from successfully stealing company property. Loss prevention agents, as some store detectives are known, also help stop suspects from destroying store property. They are responsible for apprehending anyone caught stealing, including store employees, product representatives visiting the store, and delivery persons. As part of their duties, they may inspect areas of the store as well as help close and open the store each day. Store detectives help prepare security reports and testify against shoplifters they have apprehended. Hotel detectives ensure safety and order on hotel premises, as well as protect hotel guests’ belongings. These detectives may prohibit certain known thieves or otherwise undesirable persons from entering hotel property.
Career and Education Opportunities for Private Eyes in Miami, Florida
There are many career and education opportunities for Private Eyes in the Miami, Florida area. Currently, 4,170 people work as Private Eyes in Florida. This is expected to grow by 15% to 4,790 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for Private Eyes are expected to grow by about 22.0%. Private Eyes generally detect occurrences of unlawful acts or infractions of rules in private establishment, or seek, examine, and compile information for client.
A person working as a Private Eye can expect to earn about $19 per hour or $40,050 per year on average in Florida and about $20 per hour or $41,760 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for Private Eyes are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Police and Security in Florida and not quite as good as general Police and Security category earnings nationally. Jobs in this field include: investigator, security analyst, and asset protection manager.
There are two schools within twenty-five miles of Miami, Florida where you can study to be a Private Eye, among ninety-eight schools of higher education total in the Miami area. The most common level of education for Private Eyes is an Associate's, or other 2-year degree. You can expect to spend about two years studying to be a Private Eye if you already have a high school diploma.
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Private Eye Training
Broward College - Fort Lauderdale, FL
Broward College, 225 E las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301. Broward College is a large college located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 33,527 students. Broward College has a less than one year program in Criminal Justice/Police Science which graduated 263 students in 2008.
Miami Dade College - Miami, Florida
Miami Dade College, 300 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, Florida 33132-2297. Miami Dade College is a large college located in Miami, Florida. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 57,106 students. Miami Dade College has a less than one year program in Criminal Justice/Police Science which graduated 108 students in 2008.
LOCATION INFORMATION: Miami, Florida
Miami is located in Miami-Dade County, Florida. It has a population of over 413,201, which has grown by 14.0% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Miami, 140, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Miami cost $273,500 on average, which is near the state average. In 2008, thirty-seven new homes were built in Miami - Florida, down from seventy-three the previous year.
The three big industries for women in Miami are health care, accommodation and food services, and educational services. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and administrative and support and waste management services. The average travel time to work is about 28 minutes. More than 16.2% of Miami residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 7.7%, is lower than the state average.
The unemployment rate in Miami is 12.5%, which is greater than Florida's average of 11.3%.
The percentage of Miami residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 39.6%, is less than both the national and state average. Church of Resurrection, Church of the Ascension and Church of the Incarnation are all churches located in Miami. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
Miami is home to the Edison West Little River Neighborhood Center and the Miamarina South Pier Light as well as Belle Meade Park and 54th Street Mini Park. Shopping malls in the area include Central Shopping Center, Northside Mall and Northside Shopping Center. Visitors to Miami can choose from AmeriSuites Miami / Kendall, Four Seasons Hotel Miami and Airways Airport Inn & Suites for temporary stays in the area.