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How Oklahoma Private Investigators Can Write Effective Surveillance Reports

Oklahoma private investigators often perform surveillance in a variety of situations.  From investigating cheating spouses to custody cases and more, private investigators often need to write up reports for their clients.  This is particularly important, as Oklahoma private investigators’ reports often end up before judges and elsewhere in courtrooms.  Private detectives need to know the best practices for writing reports.  By doing so, it will help their clients, too.  Oklahoma Judicial Process Servers www.OklahomaJudicialProcessServers.com examines some tactics which can help with writing these special reports.

First and foremost, it is vital that private investigation companies that are writing reports include the facts and exclude opinions.  Commentaries have no place in formal written reports, and they can often do more harm than good in the courtroom.  It is indeed as  they used to say in the television show Dragnet, “Just the facts, Ma’am.”

The formal presentation of the written investigative report is also just as important.  The following is an outline which is often helpful to private detectives in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Norman, Moore, Yukon, Tulsa and elsewhere.  While there is no set format per se, the following can be helpful for a private investigator to use:

Summary Report – Surveillance Performed for [Insert Name Here]

It is often helpful to include the name of the person for whom the private investigator has prepared the investigative report.  The word “for” can be changed to “on” and the name that follows thereafter may also be different.

Location:

This is an important place for an Oklahoma private detective to note the location(s) where the surveillance took place.  The areas may include several places, and the private investigation company should also note the times that the surveillance took place.  All reports should accurately reflect the date and time stamps of any video recording devices the private investigator used.

Purpose:

This is the place where an Oklahoma City private investigator should note the purpose of the investigation.  Was the purpose to find out if a married husband was visiting a special lover?  Perhaps there is a court order that specifically prohibits a husband or wife from cohabitating with anyone else while divorce proceedings are in progress.  Whatever the reason for the private investigation, the person conducting it should carefully but succinctly note the purpose(s) of conducting the investigation itself.

 

Integrity:

Some Oklahoma private investigators prefer to make note of integrity footage they took while on surveillance.  This time and date stamped video footage can show which times that the private investigator was still out there.  This way if a private investigator is ever asked how he or she knew if someone was at a particular place all night long, then the integrity shots can help prove the private detective’s continued presence in the area.

 

Observations:

This is the perfect area for the Oklahoma private detective to denote what he or she saw.  Who was there?  What happened?  When did these events take place?  Where did everything happen?  Once again, it is important for the private detective to be thorough, but also clear and concise.  Commentaries and opinions are not necessary.

 

Identification of the Subjects:

This is the perfect spot for an Oklahoma private investigator to list how he or she identified the subjects in the video.  Did he or she have photographs of the individuals in the video footage beforehand?  Perhaps the client provided photographs or at least a physical description of the person beforehand.  It is important for surveillance purposes for the licensed private investigator to be able to properly identify the person or individuals he or she is conducting surveillance on.  Of course, sometimes this is not always possible, especially if the subjects are not known.

What if there are people in the video that the private detective could identify but others that he or she could not?  Sometimes other people who are not known to the client or the private investigator unexpectedly appear.  If there are unidentifiable people in the video footage, a private investigator definitely needs to note this in the written report.

All Oklahoma private investigators should be sure to include their names, private investigator license numbers, and private investigation agency license number(s).  This is extremely vital, if others are to view the report with any credibility.  A report, which should include the date it is signed, is not official unless signed by all private detectives involved in the case.  Private investigators should take great care to do so in front of an Oklahoma notary public.  The signature area can look something like the following:

_________________________         _________________________

[Insert Private Investigator’s Name Here],         Date:

         Licensed Private Investigator

         PI License #: [Insert # Here]

         Agency License #: [Insert # Here]

 

All private detectives should ensure that a notary public has authenticated the signature of their investigative reports.  This makes a formal written report more credible, and it helps the judge know that the client or some unknown party did not unlawfully forge the private investigator’s signature.  A sample notary statement that reports can include is as follows:

 

Signed and affirmed before me, _______________________, a notary public for the State of Oklahoma, by [Insert the private investigator’s name here], on this _______ day of _______, 2013. 

 

Each investigative report should also include page numbers (i.e., Page 1 of 3) and places on each page for the private investigator or private detectives to initial.  This helps to ensure the integrity of the report, and it makes it harder for someone to change out pages for unethical purposes.

 

Private investigation reports can really help to present the findings in the best possible, accurate, organized light.  They can greatly complement video footage, photographs, and courtroom testimony, if applicable.  All Oklahoma private investigation agencies should ensure that their private detectives prepare and write professional reports for their clients.  Doing so not only benefits the people they serve, but it also adds to the professionalism of those working in the field.

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