Private Detectives

It’s probably just glorified on TV, but do private detectives really waltz in on private property to ask some questions…and everyone’s willing to cooperate? And, if no one cooperates, what do private detectives do? Strictly surveillance??? - Jinx

Private Dicks can do anything you can do.

It is not illegal to walk up to a door, knock on it and ask the people inside for information. Those people might tell you to screw-off so you leave.

Likewise sitting on the street and photographing people as they walk along is perfectly legal. If a guy is dumb enough to make out with his mistress in the park then he deserves a picture taken for his wife.

Presumably a good private detective will be able to pull disparate pices of info together that will lead them to more and better info. They also might use the info they have to ‘convince’ people to talk to them (which may skirt or go over the legal line depending on how they twist the arms of people they want info from).

Kicking in doors, making someone suck on the barrel of a gun to get info and the like is for Hollywood. In real life that’d be a great way to get yourself hurt and/or arrested.

Do you get to drive the Robin Masters’s Ferrari?

So what about licences? True P.I. have to get licenced or something don’t they? I always kind of wondered about that.

I had a friend who was a PI. Had to pass a test to get licensed. It’s state-regulated down here (Hooterville).

Here is a list of non fiction books by real private detectives. Marilyn Greene’s * Finder: The True Story of a Private Investigator* is a great read as is Josiah Thompson’s Gumshoe: Reflections in a Private Eye. Thompson was a Philosophy professor at Yale and Harvard before becoming a private detective.

My understanding is that, at least in the state of Georgia, all a private detective’s license really does is exempt you from certain parts of laws against stalking people. Although I am not a lawyer, so I suppose it is possible that you could be arrested for practicing detective work without a license.

The “guidelines” of what a P.I. can do and the licensing requirements vary among states. All but a few states require a P.I. license and most require at least a training class. The main reason for a license is to regulate the business.

I was a huge Magnum and Simon and Simon fan, and in the late 80’s was hired by a P.I. for surveillance work. He was a real greaseball, but I had visions of being Rick Simon, strapping a .44, mingling with hot chicks, smacking creeps around, and getting into high speed car chases without fear of the law. It was made clear to me that a P.I. is anything but above the law and since I didn’t have a license, I was even less so, but legal as I was “in training”. But cash under the table is sweet dough. Plus I still had visions of eventually living on a boat and in general, being ultra cool.

Tailing slobs and crackwhores around Orange County in the wee hours, taking pictures of them and well, a few less than legal things, to prove that they were screwing around, stealing from their company, crap like that, got very old very quickly. It wasn’t long before I figured out that he hired guys like me to do his job while he hung out in bars. There may be some high priced P.I.'s that have the glory life, but figuring that this guy was the basic P.I. in the country, and doing the basic work of a basic P.I. cured me of ever wanting to that for a living.

I was only doing it as a second job, but it was still really crap work. Struck me as a career that guys take up when there is nothing else they can do for a buck. Private security is much easier, and much better paying, so IMO, you have to be an ex cop with serious connections or have money in the first place and have serious connections to want to do it, be able to do it and be good at it. Or you are a bum with nothing left, have very few morals and have no problem screwing people out of money. Sort of like a cabbie who takes the scenic route.

I think a profession that’s closer in real life to a TV-style private detective is a bounty hunter. There was a documentary being shown (on A&E maybe?) about modern-day bounty hunters. They seem to do a lot of the things actors on TV do as far as searching for people and dealing with the dregs of society. According to the show, they do seem to have special privileges as far as tresspassing and roughing people up goes - and the documentary started off with a family who was outraged by some bounty hunters getting the wrong address of a criminal they were looking for, busting in and terrorizing a teenaged girl, and then simply walking away after the cops showed up and sorted everything out.

Even this profession seems over rated though, as they showed all the other things these people do… spending hour upon hour on the phone talking to friends of aquaintances of relatives who lie most of the time about maybe seeing the person of interest a few weeks ago, driving all over the place chasing down bum leads, often getting a few hundred bucks for a month’s work, and walking into situations with 2 or 3 partners and no other backup that are likely to get you killed, all for the sake of catching some wannabe small-time crook who skipped bail. Seems to me that you’d meet more hot women working as a mall security gaurd :D.