Whenever an Oklahoma private investigator is going to conduct surveillance for a client, there are several things he or she should do to maximize success. The professionals at Oklahoma Judicial Process Servers www.OklahomaJudicialProcessServers.com suggest that these include items that private investigators should do before, during, and after conducting surveillance. By following these best practices, private investigators will help their clients get the biggest bang for their buck and the most success with their cases. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City private investigators will also profit through customer referrals and continued business with the clients they already have. The following is a short, non-exhaustive list of things every Oklahoma private investigator should follow:
Properly Assessing Clients’ Needs:
Private investigators need to begin by properly assessing what the real needs of their clients are. By having a checklist and/or via a thorough conversation, the private investigator and the client can work together to determine the best course of action, can troubleshoot, select the best methods, analyze budgets, etc.
This assessment also includes the responsibility that private investigators have to not unnecessarily spend clients’ money, if they are visibly suffering from a mental illness. While most private investigators are not dually licensed as therapists, sometimes such indicators of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, etc., can sometimes become blatantly apparent. Good judgment and common sense are key elements.
Determining the Appropriate Number of Private Investigators for the Job:
It is also necessary to determine the right number of private investigators for the job. How many Oklahoma private detectives are really needed to complete the surveillance successfully? What will best work within the client’s budget? These are all questions that an Oklahoma private investigator and his or her client should discuss together in advance.
Signing a Written Contract That Clearly Outlines Everything:
Signing written contracts can often help eliminate confusion, can limit liability for the private investigator, and can generally assist everyone in staying on the same page from the beginning. Verbal agreements/contracts are often very difficult to prove, and they can lead to unnecessary conflicts, unrealistic expectations, and confusion
Obtaining a Retainer in Advance:
In most circumstances, clients should pay their private investigator in advance. This helps keep clients from trying to cheat a private investigator. If, for example, an Oklahoma private investigator spends fifteen hours conducting surveillance on a house where a person lives and no one ever comes back home, the client may not want to pay. This can potentially lead to a rather large and unnecessary legal conflict. Private investigators will want to make sure that all personal or business checks clear prior to starting services.
Preparing, Bringing and Maintaining the Proper Equipment:
Oklahoma City private investigators should always bring what they are going to need for the case. The following constitute a few of the many important items that private investigators generally need:
- An abundance of surveillance tapes
- Various recording devices
- Charged batteries for the recording devices
- At least one cell phone
- Cell phone charger
- Flashlight with strong batteries
- Notepad and Pencil/Pen
- Food, drinks, and something to urinate/defecate in
- Tinted car windows
- Pillow, warm/cool clothing, blankets, etc.
- Phone numbers for local law enforcement agencies
- Address, identifying information, photos, etc., of the area and people being watched
- Car that does not readily stand out from the surrounding vehicles
- Gun or other protective equipment for which the private investigator is licensed
This is not an all-inclusive list. The needs for each surveillance case may vary greatly, and they should be brought on a case-by-case basis. It always helps to have something on hand and not need it than to need it and not have it!
Alerting the Police and Other Oklahoma Staff About Your Presence:
Private investigators who call the police in advance to let them know about their presence can benefit in many ways. Once the police already know the general location of the private investigators, their physical description, a description of their car, how they can be reached by phone, etc., they often feel better about the situation. This can potentially benefit both the Norman, Oklahoma private investigator and the police.
If someone calls about a “suspicious car” or an “unusual person” outside of a home or business, then the police may or may not come out to investigate the matter. However, sometimes the police, if they know about the private investigator in advance, may simply drive by the car without stopping, getting out of their car with the lights flashing, etc. This can really help to save a private detective’s cover! However, it is important to remember that privacy laws which protect the client still apply when interacting with the law enforcement personnel.
Also, it is always important for those conducting private investigations to let at least one other staff member know where they are at any given time. This way if something bad happens and things go south, someone else can at least know the private investigator’s general whereabouts. Private investigators should also check in with someone else from time to time.
Selecting a Decent Observation Point:
Private investigators should always try to choose an observation point whereby they will attract the least attention to themselves. Of course, they can only assume a position/location they have the right to be on (i.e., a public street), and they may have to move or change places from time to time.
Keeping Free of Distractions:
While conducting surveillance, it is imperative that private detectives keep themselves free from distractions. Playing with cell phones, sleeping, or other unnecessary items are disruptive to the process. It can take mere seconds for something to happen, and it is vital that these precious moments are not lost to an “LOL”.
Taking Integrity Shots/Footage or Collecting Continuous Video Footage:
Often surveillance can take many hours to complete. Clients and judges often want to know that their Oklahoma City private detectives were there the entire time. If clients do not want and/or need their private detective to run continuous video footage the entire time, then integrity shots become important. One can obtain these by simply turning on the video camera, stating the date, time, location, what is happening, etc. The private investigator should also have the camera’s setting to where it should automatically note the date and time on the video, too. Integrity shots are quite helpful for a variety of reasons.
Many clients who do not want continuous footage run on a place want to know that their private investigators did not go home. By taking integrity shots, a private investigator can show that he or she was indeed there at the location at the intervals noted on the camera. This way the client cannot come back and demand money for surveillance the private investigator supposedly did not conduct.
Judges also like to see integrity shots for similar reasons. They, too, want to know that the private investigator did not just pack up and go home. That way someone under surveillance who arrives home at 10:00 p.m. and stayed there all night, would have greater difficulty in court claiming she had left at midnight. This would be particularly true if the woman had parked her car or truck outside in the driveway the entire time. The judge could easily ask, “Why then, do we have video footage of your car being parked there all night?” Once again, integrity shots can help for many reasons!
Use Night Vision Cameras When Appropriate:
If it is even remotely possible that surveillance could occur when it is dark, then special video cameras can certainly help! Cameras with infrared detectors can help determine if people arrive home at night. While they cannot provide clear visual images of the faces of those entering and exiting an area, they can at least help show that people arrived, left, etc. Once again, these can become helpful to clients who are seeking to know the truth.
Effectively and Timely Communicating Information With Clients:
Private detectives should take the time to communicate with their clients on a regular basis. The amount of communication may vary from client to client. Some people may want continual updates whenever possible, while others just want to know the final result. Oklahoma private detectives who communicate information and evidence discovered during their surveillance with their clients, can also help collaboratively determine the best course of action for the rest of the assignment. Oklahoma private investigators should always discuss the amount and type of information disseminated and to whom, before beginning surveillance.
Writing Effective Reports & Delivering Evidence:
Oklahoma City private investigators should take care to ensure that the reports they write for their clients are clear, concise, truthful, and to the point. Those working for private detective agencies should take great care to only state the facts and to eliminate opinions and commentaries from their reports. These are legal documents that could very well end up in a courtroom as evidence, so they need to be as accurate and professional as possible. Also, private investigators should take care to turn over any other evidence that belongs to the client (i.e., video footage), too.
Testifying in Court, if Asked:
Oklahoma private detectives who have served in the field long enough will likely attest to the fact that courtroom testimony sometimes becomes very necessary. Sometimes an attorney will need more than a written report, and testifying is often considered a billable part of the written contractual agreement. This is sometimes just a routine part of surveillance and is something a private investigator needs to prepare for.
These are just a few of the many things that those operating an Oklahoma private detective agency should consider. Sometimes items on the aforementioned list may not apply. In other circumstances, one might need to add extra items not mentioned above. However, by following this general list of necessities, Oklahoma private investigators and their clients will generally enjoy much more success!