Surveillance Investigators are employed by various law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to gather evidence during investigations. A surveillance investigator collects information on a subject, or suspect, in the course of an investigation. Surveillance investigators can work as an individual private citizen or as a employee/contractor for a law enforcement agency and frequently use hidden cameras, wiretapping devices, and other surveillance techniques to conclude investigations. Surveillance is used in all types of investigations from missing persons to tax frauds to child pornography investigations. Surveillance is sometimes combined with other types of investigation techniques to provide the best evidence possible.
Today, many people assume that surveillance investigators are responsible for conducting illegal spy techniques. This is far from true. Today’s surveillance investigators are trained and experienced in conducting lawful surveillance techniques. Many of these surveillance techniques have been implemented into law enforcement training programs over the years. The training programs teach surveillance investigators to follow a chain of command in the event of a joint investigation, give warning immediately if their client’s rights are being violated, document the discovery process, maintain confidentiality of the evidence, interview potential witnesses, use GPS tracking devices to locate the subject involved in the investigation, obtain and preserve all evidence and communications related to the case, and obtain the suspect’s permission to search electronic media such as cell phones and PDAs.
Surveillance Investigators needs a license to conduct surveillance on individuals. To get a Surveillance Investigator’s license, a candidate must successfully complete a training program that is approved by the Texas State Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Training requires thorough knowledge of the laws regarding investigations, background checking methods, surveillance techniques, ethics, computer crimes, telecommunications frauds, crimes against children, as well as probable cause and search warranting procedures. Surveillance Investigators are also required to successfully complete a federal terrorism training course.
Today, it is much easier for people to communicate secretly and remain under the radar of law enforcement. Surveillance Investigators relies on modern surveillance techniques to catch criminals. Surveillance Investigators uses a variety of surveillance tools including GPS trackers, computer spy tools, cell phone spying software, hidden cameras and other high-tech surveillance equipment and tools to collect evidence from subjects. Modern surveillance techniques allow investigators to document the information and obtain legal authorization to conduct surveillance. To meet their obligations to law enforcement agents, surveillance investigators are required to be knowledgeable about legal issues and local laws.
Although many private investigators specialize in a particular area such as corporate security, human resources, litigation, insurance, or computer crimes, a majority work in all different areas. In the business world, surveillance investigators collect information and intelligence that will help the company improve its operations and make the company more competitive. In the human resources department, private investigators to gather information that will help the human resources department with employee selection and training.
Private investigators provide investigation services to individuals, corporations, organizations, and government agencies. Some investigation services include investigations into missing children, employee theft, employee fraud, contract frauds, procurement of illegal substances such as drugs or alcohol, invasion of privacy by intruders, theft, residential and business security, tracking individuals who commit crimes, obtaining information to aid the prosecution, and the investigative process (such as interviewing witnesses and suspects). Obtaining documentation, both verbal and written, to support your case is also essential to obtaining successful results. You may also have to obtain records, such as bank and credit card statements, to support your case.
There are various types of surveillance investigators. There are investigations that are conducted by a single investigator (one that is responsible for only one case), which involve long term surveillance on a suspect. Long term surveillance investigators can often become emotionally attached to their targets and become too involved in the case to be able to work effectively on short time assignments. The preferred method is to hire several surveillance investigators to work on a case concurrently. The investigators coordinate their efforts and divide their time accordingly.
Surveillance investigators will utilize surveillance equipment such as video recording equipment and video cameras. They may use GPS tracking equipment and cell phone trackers to locate a suspect. Sometimes they follow a vehicle from a traffic accident to an address where the suspect resides. With modern technology, surveillance investigators have the ability to record voice messages to obtain key information about the suspect. Cell phone forensic examinations and video recording equipment are also becoming commonplace in many high security locations.