No, being a Private Investigator is not dangerous. A Private Investigator mitigates the possible on the job risk through skill, intelligence, and experience. So for an unqualified PI, yes this industry would be dangerous. These dangers are comprised of two things: traffic and criminals.
How dangerous is traffic to an unqualified Private Investigator? In 2018 alone, over 30,000 people died in automotive accidents in the United States. Furthermore, Private Detectives spend the majority of their time on the road, this amplifies the risk. However, as mentioned before, a qualified PI can greatly reduce the risk of an automotive accident. This is accomplished by mastering surveillance driving methods.
The Investigator will utilize three methods of driving when performing mobile surveillance:
The Investigator uses “threshold driving” to drive as fast as possible while still being in the margin of safety for all conditions, seen and unseen. Defensive driving is utilized by the Investigator mostly when in active mobile surveillance in lighter traffic. There are many sub points in this method:
Looking ahead, monitoring for everyone in traffic to observe different driving behaviour and or distracted drivers
Observing and planning for the expected and the unexpected
Being alert and distraction free
Being aware, monitoring other drivers in the Investigator’s flow and other surroundings that might have an impact on maintaining surveillance
Preparedness for all sorts of actions and reactions of other drivers and pedestrians
Not expecting the other drivers to do what is necessary to conduct surveillance and maintain surveillance
Maintaining a safe following distance
Considering weather and road conditions
Adjusting speed before entering a bend, in order to avoid applying the brakes in the middle of a bend
Repeatedly tapping on the brakes (activating brake lights) to make the vehicle more visible to cars in behind
As you can see, a PI who masters surveillance driving can greatly reduce the risk to themselves to a very safe level.
From time to time, Private Investigators will have to investigate known criminals or perform investigations in high crime areas. A bad neighborhood can expose a Private Investigator to all sorts of criminal danger, such as carjacking. However, working in crime ridden areas is not as dangerous as traffic due to the fact that performing investigations on and around criminals is more infrequent. As with traffic, an experienced and capable Private Investigator can reduce the risk that comes with being around criminals. This is done through due diligence, mastering surveillance techniques, and adhering strictly to the risk vs reward principal that PIs follow. As with performing an investigation on a subject, criminals will be unaware of the presence of the experienced Private Eye.
Now you can see why being a Private Investigator is not dangerous. Being safe on the job is something that comes naturally to Private Investigators. Performing investigations safety is intertwined with performing investigations properly. This is true for mobile vehicle surveillance and performing investigations around or on criminals. After you gain PI education and experienced, safety will become second nature.
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About the Author
Peter Sandru is an Instructor & Co-Founder of NDIL with over 16 years as a Professional Private Investigator. Peter has spent more than a decade conducting investigations and security operations throughout the world, primarily for corporations, law firms, and government agencies. Peter has assisted in the creation of numerous investigative & security training programs in various capacities.