Why Former Law Enforcement Officers Make Good PIs

What Types of Cases Do Private Investigators Work On?
December 9, 2013
How Do I Find Someone and How Much Does It Cost?
December 18, 2013
Show all

Why Former Law Enforcement Officers Make Good PIs

It is no surprise that many private investigators are former law enforcement officers. They are in many ways using the training they received as police officers to serve as private investigators. That is one of the benefits of having been in law enforcement before you become a private investigator.

From Law Enforcement Officer to Private Investigator

Private investigators who previously served in law enforcement bring their experience, expertise and education into their new careers. Having carried a gun and a badge to protect the public prepares people for a role in private investigation.

You probably haven’t met many PIs, unless you happen to be in a field of work where you interact with them. Experience with the public and with investigations performed as law enforcement officers can serve them well in a career as a private investigator.

There are many situations that people come across in private investigations that are connected to previous work in law enforcement. This is not to diminish the work done by federal, state and local law enforcement. Many people who move on to private investigations do so after they have retired from a career in law enforcement. They still have connections in the community that can help them in their new roles.


Private investigators need to have proper knowledge of good techniques of detecting. They are familiar with the procedures used in investigations. Interviewing techniques are already well developed in people who have served in law enforcement. People who have served in this capacity will also be familiar with gathering information, although the procedures are different once they are not “on the force” anymore.

Gathering Information

Private investigators actually gather information in different ways than do those in public service. They learn to gain information without the authority of a uniform. PIs will not be able to access the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) criminal database, but they can use other ways to gather the information they need.

If people have served in law enforcement, they are more aware of the ways information is gathered. People with no experience in this area do not have the same resources as those who have previously worked in the field. Some investigators work with sources that they may have used when they were law enforcement officers.

Experience Is Important

Those who have worked in law enforcement or security can use past experience to help them as private investigators. They will conduct background investigations using proper sources. They may also engage in due diligence investigations or work on the defense team of those accused of crime.

Private investigators are in the business to gather information, in ethical and legal ways, in order to help clients. Former law enforcement officials are not allowed to use their old positions to leave the impression that they are still in law enforcement, but the skills they have achieved over years of public service will serve them well as private investigators.

Experience as a law enforcement officer isn’t essential to becoming a private investigator, but it is a step in the right direction. Learning to discretely examine the past of someone they are investigating is important. They learn of a person’s reputation, income, assets, education and criminal history.

With minimal information on a subject, PIs bring together information to create a complete profile. If the person in question is being investigated prior to employment or for some other reason, a private investigator can evaluate the accuracy of a job candidate’s fitness, character and qualifications.

Experience in investigations is helpful for PIs when they locate people for their clients. They may need to find missing children, missing persons, witnesses or debtors.

Surveillance is also a common task for PIs, and it will be an ingrained skill if they previously worked in law enforcement.