Private sector detectives differ greatly from law enforcement detectives, and other types of governmental investigation professionals, although there are certainly many similarities in their vocations, as well.
Private sector investigators work to fulfill their client’s needs, rather than uphold code or law imposed by the government. Therefore, there are many separate specialties within the private detective sector and a great diversity of service offerings available to individual and business clients.
Entering the private investigation business is a natural fit for many professionals in related vocations, such as police, military or government service. Opportunities abound for qualified detectives and the vast majority of private eyes can earn much more money working in the private sector than they could ever hope to earn in public or governmental service positions.
The scope of this article is to detail the similarities and differences between private and public sector detectives. We will also show how the transition from public to private sector can be a natural and profitable one at the end of a police, military or other related governmental career.
Private Sector Detectives and Police Detectives
All types of detectives have one main goal in mind. This objective is to solve mysteries, puzzles or unknown situations by uncovering facts and evidence which reveals what actually occurred. Detective work is a very cerebral career, with strong cognitive abilities taking precedence over brute force.
Detectives can specialize in many different fields, in the police department, military and in private sector work. Each will have their own focus, as far as the types of cases they excel in resolving, since the skill sets in advanced detective work are very specific indeed.
Regardless of their employment, the main goal of any good detective is to reveal the truth about their assignment and answer any questions which remain as obstacles in determining the facts of the case. The ability to gather intelligence, think fast, adapt to any situation and deal with people are all important skills for detectives regardless of the capacity of their present employment.
Training in any related profession will help a novice private sector investigator to handle assignments efficiently and competently. However, there are certainly differences in working within the private sector that need to be explored and disclosed, as well.
Private Investigators and Law Enforcement
Police and military detectives are law enforcement officers and are therefore very different than private sector investigators. Police are primarily charged with protecting public safety and solving criminal investigations.
Police have certain rights which are not inherent to the private detective profession, such as the ability to carry firearms and use deadly force, the ability to utilize the powers bestowed upon them to solve cases and the protection and cooperation of the entire law enforcement community.
Private detectives do not have these special abilities, but they do have other useful advantages, such as: the ability to work in any locale without restrictions of authority, the ability to utilize far more methods of solving a case than are available to police and the most important difference, the power to choose their case assignments and determine their own salary.
Making the leap to the private sector is ideal for police and military operatives, since retirement ages are low, leaving plenty of time to successfully work for in the free market economy, often while simultaneously collecting a nice municipal or governmental retirement pension.
Private Sector Detectives Career Path
Police detectives already have all the skills and training needed to make exemplary general private investigators. Being that most police jobs allow early retirement with a considerable pension, a great number of former law enforcement officers choose a second career in private investigation once they leave active duty on the force.
As long as these professionals maintain their contacts in the police department, district attorney’s office and with area attorneys, and choose to focus on niche assignments in the criminal investigation sector, they are almost sure to succeed. However, if network connections are not strong, then the new P.I. may experience the most common problems facing former police officers who become private sector investigators: the lack of clients and case assignments.
Likewise military police and investigators should network extensively with current and former armed forces personnel who can help them to successfully integrate into the private sector once they leave active duty.
I personally know of many former police detective who are excellent investigators, but do not get enough cases to keep them active. So, for all you aspiring private detectives currently working for the force or military, be sure to make all the contacts you will need to keep you busy when and if you make the transition into the private sector. This is advice to succeed or sink by.