COP vs COP
The other day I was reading from a Private Investigators blog site about Private Investigators. The topic went from hourly fees charged, to the type of individuals doing Private Investigations today.
At one point, there were a couple of comments made regarding this blog that some ex-COPs shouldn’t be working as Private Investigators.
I am a retired Law Enforcement Officer having worked in Criminal Investigations for over thirty years and I agree with them.
In fact, this is a topic I battle all the time with attorney clients.
You talk to someone about cops, they immediately vision the person in uniform driving a patrol vehicle with the emergency lights on top.
The general public doesn’t understand that there is a big difference between a cop and a detective and/or an investigator.
And, when you find retired Law Enforcement individuals in the private investigative business, at least in Idaho, the greatest percentage were patrol officers.
Actually, there is a big difference between a patrol officer and a criminal investigator and/or a detective.
The patrol officer is the one that responds to a complaint of a crime, he secures the scene, takes notes and preserves the evidence for the investigator.
You will find there are very few uniform officers that can say that they were the case agent on a major case and successfully assisted in the prosecution of it a courtroom.
It is the criminal investigator that does the investigative work on the case and hopefully solves the crime.
Do you really want to trust someone that has the limited background, expertise and ability assisting your attorney with something that may affect you the rest of your life?
An arrest record will follow you and hurt you when it comes to employment, promotions, and even your education.
You need a good criminal investigator that has a background and numerous years of experience in criminal defense investigations, evidence identification, knows the evidence as it relates to the crime, knows how to collect it, and if it relates to the case. Sometimes even more importantly, knows when evidence is missing from the crime scene.
Your investigator should know what exculpatory evidence is: Evidence that is favorable to the defendant.
Know about Brady issues: Does the law enforcement have information as to the truthfulness or untruthfulness of a particular officer.
When it comes to the evidence in your case does he/she know evidence and how it relates to the case. Was the evidence collected properly? Is there a proper chain of custody listed with the evidence? What are the rules of evidence as it pertains to this specific case.
In today’s courts, you will always see forensic evidence, DNA, and smart phones used as evidence against a defendant during a criminal trial. An experienced defense investigator has to be educated and have a background as to how this evidence will be used in the case and how it was obtained.
Every major case that I have assisted defense attorneys these past years have had DNA evidence and a smart phone as items of evidence.
The identification, collection and preservation of DNA evidence is critical. DNA can be easily contaminated if not properly collected by the crime scene tech.
See an earlier article that I wrote on “DNA as evidence”.
In many of the cases I have been involved in, DNA was used to exonerate the defendant.
There are also the witnesses. Did the patrol officer identify all the witnesses? It is usually left to the lead investigator to assure that a proper canvas was conducted in the area and any possible witnesses located.
He/she should know the proper procedure for contacting these individuals. And it’s not always door to door, but how to locate and identify a potential witness that could prove the defendants story and/or be an alibi witness.
Then there is the interviewing of the witness. Did the officer conducting the interviews obtain all the pertinent information?
The cases I am working currently it appears the law enforcement officers are taking limited, incomplete statements. They fail to interview all the witnesses before making an arrest, which often is a wrongful arrest.
Let me put my years of experience to work for you, at least a case review that can identify possible issues with the investigation.