I’ve been delving into the world of private investigators (PIs) in the USA recently, doing research for my next book.
The stereotypical PI, lurking in shadows to catch cheating partners, or picking locks to access private files, is a long way from the truth.
The range of cases that a PI can work on is extensive. Yes, they follow suspected cheats, but it’s by no means the only thing they do. Some of the tasks they carry out have surprised me, mainly due to the level of skill required. These people are not amateurs – they’re trained professionals.
So, what does a PI do?
What don’t PIs do?
Break the law to get results.
Whatever you may have seen on TV, PIs are bound by the law and there are severe penalties if they break it. They don’t sleep with their clients, tap phones, break into warehouses, or put GPS trackers on cars. In most states in the US, PIs have to obtain a licence, and unlike the image above suggests, they don’t wear deerstalkers and smoke pipes as they search for clues with a magnifying glass. Most don’t carry guns, either.
My characters live in one of the states that require a licence to work as a PI. They would have had to complete sixty hours of training which includes an exam, and have had their fingerprints taken and checked before they were granted their licence. Some previous experience in law enforcement can count towards the training, but the exam is a must. When they renew their licence every two years, they must complete another eight hours of training. It’s not something you can simple decide to do one day, and off you go!
I’ll be sharing some more information about PIs in future posts, and in particular, details the kinds of things my characters will be doing in their jobs. Next week will be about finding missing people, and locating those who don't want to be found.
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