Detectives and Private Investigators


Who Are Detectives?

Detectives are plain cloth officers who are tasked with collecting facts and evidence. Their main tasks include conducting interviews, keeping an eye out for suspects and taking part in raids to arrest criminals. They generally specialise in one field, like homicide, forensic, theft, etc. and work on cases till a verdict is given by the court.

In what fields can one become a detective?

A person can become a detective in any one of the fields like a legal investigator, a corporate investigator, a computer forensic investigator or even a store or a hotel investigator.

Financial investigators are used to make a secret financial profile of people who are party to large financial transactions.They are usually certified public accountants.

Legal investigators usually work for law firms, and their work include helping prepare a criminal defense, locating witnesses, serving legal documents and interviewing them, and they can testify in court if required.

Corporate Investigators work for corporations and carry out investigations both externally and internally. Internally they check for things like drug use at work, stealing of merchandise by employees etc., while external investigations include checking out if suppliers are not charging excessively.

Computer forensic investigators specialise in recovering data from computers and presenting it as evidence in courts.

Hotel and store detectives ensure that all the customers/guests and their belongings are safe, and they ensure that no damage is done to the property. They also keep negative elements away and check for shoplifting etc.

Who is suitable for a career as a detective?

People who have a knack for solving mysteries and have good observation skills are the most eligible for taking up a career as a detective. However there are many work hazards and difficult work conditions in an investigators’ job.

For the police officers, becoming an investigator is a natural step in their promotion through the ranks.

What are the work hazards and working conditions associated with the job of a detective?

Work conditions can vary for different detectives. Work places can change from posh boardrooms to dull dingy bars. Work that may keep some out on the road, when they have to collect evidence, while the same work may keep them behind the desk when they have to submit reports. As far as the dangers are concerned, sometimes detectives have to follow a target at night, which can be dangerous. They can call for backup, but it might be too late. In some cases, the detectives have to be armed to ward off an ugly situation.

What other services do detectives offer?

Detectives also provide services like protection to celebrities, pre-employment background checks etc. People can hire private investigators to check on the fidelity of their partners, while corporations hire detectives to check out if any employee is committing fraud. They also provide assistance in criminal, civil, insurance, fraud and child custody cases.

How can one become a detective?

In some departments, the rank of an investigator is achieved by clearing a test after achieving necessary requirements of becoming a police officer.

In some areas, you can become a detective after you have successfully passed the competitive exams, which cover a wide variety of subjects like interrogation of suspects to practices of investigation etc.

Still in some areas, like Britain, you can become a detective after you have spent at-least 2 years as a police officer. You can apply for this post after that. They must clear the National Investigators’ Examination to become eligible for the next rounds of Criminal Investigator Development Program to qualify.

But in some countries, detectives are college graduates who become a detective straight away, bypassing the need to clear tests first.


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