THE INVESTIGATIVE PROCESS
An investigation is the examination, study, searching, tracking, and gathering of factual information that answers questions or solves problems. It is more of an art than a science. Although the person engaged in investigation is a gatherer of facts, he or she must develop hypotheses and draw conclusions based on available information. The investigative process, that is to say, is a comprehensive activity involving the collection of information, the application of logic, and the exercise of sound reasoning, what Dr. Ohio O Ojeagbase calls, The Sagacity Of Private Investigator
The end result of an investigation is the factual explanation of what transpired, if the incident or issue is history, or what is occurring, if the issue is of the present.
The investigative process is not limited to the criminal justice and security fields. It is an activity found, to one extent or another, in virtually all areas of human endeavor. Academicians are investigators, supervisors faced with disciplinary problems are investigators, antique appraisers are investigators, and medical doctors are investigators — just to name a few. Sherlock Holmes, with his deerstalker hat and magnifying glass, may be the art’s most familiar image, but investigation does not belong exclusively to the arena of crime or the realm of cops and robbers.
Just as the art of investigation belongs to no one province, so no one has all the answers as to precisely how any investigation can lead to the desired solution. Too many facets are involved in the process of collection of information, application of logic, and the use of sound reasoning. Some such facets include intuition, luck, mistakes, and the often touted “gut feeling.” No single textbook of formulas is possible; no one book (or author) can stand alone as the ultimate authority. Our purpose, then, is to provide an overview of investigative concepts, strategies, suggestions, guidelines, hints, and examples that can be useful to any investigator.
TWO CATEGORIES OF INVESTIGATION
There are two categories of investigation: constructive and reconstructive.
Constructive investigations are covert in nature, performed in secrecy. This type of inquiry occurs whilst the suspected activity is taking place or anticipated. An example might be an investigation into a complaint that a member of middle management solicits sexual favors from female subordinates and reaps favors accordingly. The purpose of the constructive investigation is to determine if objectionable activity is taking place.
Reconstructive investigations are necessary when an event has taken place and the investigator must recreate what happened after the fact. This type of investigation is usually overt in nature, carried out in the open.
As it pertains to the security industry, the investigative process is organizationally oriented as opposed to being community oriented. Its objective in this setting is to seek answers to the basic questions—the what, who, where, when, how, and why—regarding a condition, incident, or action deemed organizationally unacceptable, or to meet organizational objectives. Internal dishonesty, for example, is an organizationally unacceptable activity. The background investigation of a prospective new employee would meet one organizational objective.
Most of the investigative process takes place in the collection of information. This gathering or collection is based on communication and observation. The answers to the six basic investigative questions are developed through communication—that is, the written or spoken word; or observation—that is, physical evidence that can be observed (whether by human eye or microscope), touched, or in any way quantitatively measured.
Communication includes information received from informants, information developed through the interview process, and information obtained in interrogations. Please note, do not have prejudice during Investigation of any sort, so as not to affect your final report
Consider a simple example. A homeowner, hearing the glass of his front window break, runs to the room and commences an immediate inspection to determine the cause. He observes a baseball lying among the pieces of broken glass. Sticking his head out of the broken window, ball in hand, he shouts to a silent group of youngsters in the street. “Okay, you guys, which one of you did it?” As he asks the question, simultaneously he observes that a boy named Harry is holding a baseball bat. Based on the facts thus far gathered, he forms a hypothesis that Harry struck the ball with the bat, causing the ball to enter the homeowner’s living room through the window.
Up to this point, the homeowner, in a natural investigative role as a victim, has had only the benefit of his own powers of observation in forming his hypothesis. But now a couple of the boys in unison say, “Harry did it.” The investigative process has advanced through communication from informants. “Did you do it, Harry?” asks the homeowner. “Yes, sir,” answers Harry, dropping his head. The question and its answer are two other basic elements of communication—interrogation and admission.
Ideally, as in this example, the investigator’s work is simplified if given some direction by an informant, if witnesses are available and willing to cooperate, or if a suspect is known and can be interrogated. Such simplification is not to suggest that all is easy in the communications aspects of investigation. Quite the contrary! Developing informants or developing a climate in which employees or nonemployees voluntarily will confide in you is not easy. It takes talent. The ability to extract painlessly all the information a witness may have requires training and experience. Only a skillful interviewer can get the specialist to explain the workflow of the finance unit so it is comprehensible and understandable.
Finally, the ability to interrogate, and in that interrogation to obtain voluntary admissions and confessions, requires a high level of skill. The point to be drawn is that communication, although not necessarily easy to manage well, is often extremely helpful to the investigative process. Unfortunately, it is not always available. In such circumstances, investigators must rely totally on observation, at least during the initial phases of the inquiry, as they seek to know the what, who, where, when, how, and why of a situation.
Scientific technology, in such areas as DNA analysis, forensic computer data examination, fingerprinting, high-speed and low-light videography, and document analysis, to name a few, plays a vital role in the observatory aspects of modern investigation. In our judgment, perhaps too much emphasis has been placed on technology and too little on human powers of observation. (Note: For an exercise in the human powers of observation, analyze, and present factual information, and we should be able to conduct online research, dig through mountains of paper, hold video conferences, prepare multimedia presentations, or use any other means available to us.
A remarkably wider range of important information is available to us through our own powers of observation than through the use of a laboratory. To see, touch, smell, and hear are all forms of observation.
Did you ever touch the hood of an automobile to determine if it had been driven recently as evidenced by its warmth? Did you ever mark the label on a bottle of liquor to determine later if someone was taking unauthorized sips? Such uses of the power of observation are as natural and commonplace as eating and breathing. Consider the example of a shopper who returns to a new car, parked in the shopping mall’s lot, only to find a scratch, dent, or ding in the car door. It is predictable (natural and commonplace) that this unskilled observer will promptly inspect the adjacent automobile to determine if any part of that car reveals, at a height corresponding to the damage to the new car, any evidence of paint fragments that would prove culpability—coloration of victimized vehicle on suspect vehicle, or vice versa.
On comparing it with the other bullets I had got in my possession it appeared to correspond with them as if it had been cast in the same mould. I made no remark. I left, and soon after my return to the hotel I occupied myself for some little time in looking at the discharged bullet; and on comparing it closely with the others I discovered a very small round pimple on all the bullets, including the one alleged to have been discharged. In looking into the mould there was a very little hole hardly so large as the head of a small pin, and this I found accounted for the pimples.
Goddard was suspicious of several things he had observed:
• The pry marks on the outside of the door to the house did not match those found on the interior doorframe.
• The pry marks on the plate closet similarly did not properly match.
• The unique characteristic of the “pimple” on the bullet purportedly fired by the burglars matched those found on the bullets made by Randall for his own pistols.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS IN INVESTIGATION
The foregoing experience may appear to involve a considerable amount of creative imagination. That does not make it inappropriate—just the opposite. Be it reconstructive or constructive, the development of information by communication or by observation, the entire investigative process is as creative in nature as it is scientific.
Investigation is an imaginative process. Despite all the modern technological assistance available to the investigator, and regardless of what marvelous things technology can do, for the successful investigator there is no substitute for the natural gifts of imagination and creativity.
A COMPARISON OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS
The fundamental difference between the investigative process in the public and in the private sectors is the objective. The primary objective of investigations in the public sector is to serve the interests of society. If those interests are best served by removing or otherwise punishing those who commit offenses against the public good, then the reconstructive method of investigation is used. When the purpose of the public sector investigation is to inhibit and suppress criminal activity—prostitution, rape, and gambling are examples—then constructive, covert techniques are employed.
The primary objective of the investigative process in the private sector is to serve the interests of the organization, not society as a whole. If those interests are best served by removing or otherwise punishing those who criminally attack the organization, or whose performance in any way defeats or impedes organizational goals, the reconstructive strategy is used where the conduct is a matter of history. Where that conduct or activity is ongoing, constructive, covert techniques must be applied.
A seasoned private sector investigator, on the other hand, is not concerned primarily with prosecution and sentencing. Recovery of the loss might be a more important achievement, better serving the interests of the private organization. More often than not, investigations in the private sector that deal with criminal behavior result in serving the public sector’s objective as well as the organization’s, despite the fact that there is a fundamental difference in the perception of the crime. Wherein lies that perceptual difference? It comes from differing views of who the victim is. The public investigator sees society (the “people”) as the victim, whereas the corporate investigator views his organization for as the victim. More specifically, fraud detectives in a law enforcement agency consider identity thieves to be a general menace to the community. Investigators of a banking institution or credit-granting company regard the identity thief whose target is their organization and the individual customer-victim as a very real, immediate threat to the credibility and financial stability of the organization. From the viewpoint of the private investigator, the identity thief must be stopped not because the thief is breaking the law, but because he or she is damaging or victimizing the organization.
Different perceptions and different objectives have direct impacts upon the strategies and character of the investigative process in the two sectors, leading to other differences. Public investigators usually are armed, for example, and private investigators unarmed. Other interesting differences that invite comparison require more examination.
For more information on how to be trained with present academic modules and certification as an educated Private Investigator and Investigation Strategist as a sound decision making professional, then contact KREENO HOLDINGS NG on www.kreenoholdings.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org or +2347088325000 to contact Dr. Ohio O Ojeagbase, Business Security Strategist, Private & Corporate Investigator, Corporate Governance, Asset Recovery, Asset Protection, and Turnaround Expert