Private Investigator education is a common issue in the private investigation industry. What is the issue with PI education? It is the private investigation industry focusing on private investigation educational topics that appear interesting and “flashy” but do not move the industry forward. This is why our industry is plagued with PI training programs that do not include practical PI subjects. It is not that the training programs are poorly constructed, they just focus on topics that seem exciting but do not provide useful information to new Private Investigators or the tools of the trade.
Examples of this can be found when we attend Private Investigator conferences. The topics of discussion typically revolve around exciting subjects such as DNA collection, fingerprinting, polygraphing, interrogation techniques, corporate espionage, and so forth. Furthermore, this is mirrored in the training programs offered to new Private Investigators. What is not focused on is practical and tangible Private Investigator subjects such as solo surveillance. Generally, we as Private Investigators will spend the majority of our career performing or managing surveillance files. Yes, surveillance is taught in numerous Private Investigator training programs, but it is almost always large team surveillance that organization such as the FBI would perform. Also, this surveillance education only makes up a small portion of the training program. We as Private Investigators mostly perform solo surveillance, a topic that does not get the attention it deserves.
The PI industry’s discussion on the tools of the trade is another prime example of how we focus on what is exciting but not practical. Think of all the mentions of drones and their place in Private Investigation surveillance. There is a near endless number of articles on this topic with very few Private Investigators utilizing this tool and almost no new PIs. On the contrast, arguably the most important tool, the minivan garners no interest. In 1983, Chrysler came out with the first modern minivan, a spacious yet compact vehicle that was immediately used by Private Investigators. It can be argued that this revolutionized the industry and that this was one of the most important milestones of Private Investigation, aside from the invention of the compact camera. Sadly, in the 1980s, there were no articles on the minivan and its place in PI surveillance. Even today, there is not a lot of content regarding this subject.
What is disappointing, is that what we do is exiting and interesting. There is no need to pump it up with “flash.” Think about all the interesting and exciting stories we have performing solo surveillance for insurance fraud investigations. Furthermore, not focusing on practical topics is detrimental to new up and coming Private Investigators. New PIs need training and education on what we actually do, solo surveillance. If a new Private Investigator is trying to break into the industry, they need at least 30hrs of education on how the industry actually works and at least 100hrs of solo surveillance education. Maybe someday there will be a Private Investigator conference on the topic of solo surveillance for insurance fraud files.