Surveillance Investigators performs a wide range of duties for various types of law enforcement agencies. Many of the duties will overlap and some duties may be performed by different individuals. The goal of every surveillance team is to achieve the maximum degree of effectiveness and productivity. There are four primary functions that are most often performed by a surveillance team, and any given agency may have additional functions as well.
When assigned to a case, surveillance investigators work within the scope of the law enforcement agency they are employed with. Specific duties and responsibilities will vary, however, and there are many core tasks related to the job, such as: conducting on-site interviews, conducting background checks, obtaining witness information and other evidence, interviewing witnesses, collecting data, preparing reports, advising the attorneys, and closing cases. There is typically an extensive amount of paperwork that is required to be submitted to court claiming privileges, legal discovery and other discovery, meeting deadlines, interviewing witnesses, preparing reports, filing court papers, and closing investigations.
Background checks are very important for surveillance investigators. They conduct numerous background checks on potential candidates that have been enlisted to serve as “undercover” agents for legal professionals. These individuals are employed by the firm that is conducting the investigative activity. Every successful investigation depends on efficient investigative personnel to successfully complete the work required and obtain and document the results.
Surveillance investigators also obtain information in other ways besides conducting on-site interviews. Surveillance teams may use investigative computer technology and data analysis tools to collect evidence. Often, surveillance investigators use digital video equipment and software to obtain video surveillance of a scene or subject, monitor activity with a subject, and gather other evidence during the investigation. Additionally, surveillance investigators are trained in locating hidden subjects, examining recorded media for any deleted information, locating the target of an investigation through personal information, and locating the subject by using GPS technology. These investigators are also trained in numerous other areas, including forensics.
Surveillance investigators may also rely upon other sources of information to assist them in their investigative missions. Many private investigators maintain confidential relationships with other individuals and companies that are in a position to provide valuable information regarding legal activities. In exchange for a fee, these sources of intelligence allow the investigator to tap into the target’s computers or other devices. Some private investigators even use GPS trackers to track their subjects.
Communication skills are a crucial component to becoming a successful surveillance investigator. Surveillance teams communicate with subjects on a daily basis. Each member of the team must know the location of all surveillance investigators and all members of the team must be able to correctly identify their targets. This coordination and communication skills can be further compounded when utilizing video equipment and other tools. A thorough understanding of verbal and non-verbal cues is a prerequisite to effective communication skills with your targets.
Many private investigators use background checks as part of their investigative tools. Background checks are conducted on employees, applicants, and current employees. Performing a background check is necessary in determining whether or not a person is suitable for employment. Private investigators rely heavily on the results of background checks to determine if a person is a suitable surveillance investigator, or if they should continue to seek employment elsewhere.
The video recordings are another area in which private investigators rely heavily. Surveillance teams monitor and record video footage. They analyze the video recordings and any other information that are pertinent to their case. This information is then used to aid the surveillance investigators in their investigation. While video recordings may be a bit more difficult to decipher than speech, the combination of decipherable text and surveillance video makes it extremely difficult for an individual to cover their tracks.