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  1. #1
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    Pursuing Rewards

    This is probably something I'd have to ask the Texas Private Security Bureau, but just thought I'd run it by you to see your comments:

    As some of you know I was taking a introductory Private Investigator's course which just concluded (only 12 hours so we just scratched the surface - I will take advanced courses later if I decide to persue it).

    I was asking the PI's whether they ever locate wanted felons for the purpose of pursuing rewards (such as CrimeStopper rewards) when business is slow... Turns out they do... the PI's said they consider it a public service but that the rewards almost never cover expenses.

    Since I'm kinda inclined to do that sort of thing, I just wondered what y'all thought of all that.

    I'm sure there are cases where a PI flubbed up an investigation, but also cases where a PI followed up on leads that the police detectives simply don't have time to persue... But the difference betweek totally screwing up a case and solving it may depend on the level of coordination between the PD and the PI - Do PD's ever coorporate with licensed PI's persuing the reward, to keep them from stepping on each other's toes, or is it just a constant turf battle between the PI and the police all the way?

    I asked a Lt in our PD about this, and he asked the Chief about it... Also about training and possibly licensing volunteers as PI's and/or Security officers as necessary to do mundane things like going around and checking on Sex Offender information ever how often that's required, etc, if the volunteers or the CPA alumni organization paid for their training and licensing, and used the rewards, and/or billed small fees for each job to the PD to recover training costs.

    Predictably, the Chief informed him that the PD would not be cooperative at all, due to liability concerns, but they wouldn't say whether the help would be welcomed or frowned upon, benificial or an impediment, even if the volunteers are trained to do it right - Just like they are very reluctant to comment on whether private Neighborhood Watch patrols are frowned upon or not, but they certainly don't want to supervise them.

    I've come to the conclusion that they are simply NEVER gonna want volunteer help of ANY description, because I guess they don't want to be wrapped up in a lawsuit if a volunteer does something stupid - So I tend to belive it's best not to even ask them, and do whatever we decide to do on our own anyway, without even consulting them for advice. Maybe they'll be happy as long as we don't create more work for them than we save them...

    It's almost like asking a poker player what his hand is - you know before you ask that they're not gonna give you a complete answer, so you have to read between the lines on what little info they DO give you

    Oh well... I've come not to expect any open arms, so I wasn't too disappointed this time.

    The other part of my question I had for the PI's was whether you actually have to be licensed to do that in Texas, especially if you conduct the trace via Public Domain information available (such as court records), and aquaintence interviews, with a minimum of observation and avoiding direct contact. Of course the answer was that it was better to have a license than not... However in Texas there's only 3 ways to take the PI test and apply for a PI license after you've had the training:
    1. You can apply for a PI company license after 3 years in Law Enforcement
    2. You can apply for a PI company license of you have a 4-year BS degree in Criminal Justice
    3. You can apply for a individual PI license (but not a company license) if you're employed by a PI firm - But you cannot persue cases on you own until you've worked there for 3 years and then apply for a PI Company license)

    Texas law says that you must be licensed as a PI to conduct such investigations "as a business", but it is unclear as to whether tracking fugatives would be a "business", since there is no client and usually the reward from the occasional capture almost never covers total expenses of all the traces, many of which are dead-ends.

    Of course I'd probably go for Option #3 anyway, because it's already legally risky to trace fugitiaves for rewards, since the PI's don't have a contract with the person they're trying to locate, and therefore the persued person has not forfeited any of his rights (whereas a Bounty Hunter does have that legal protection when his clients' customers skip bail).
    Last edited by TXCharlie; 03-05-06 at 07:42 PM.

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  2. #2
    Billiardnut's Avatar
    Billiardnut is offline Attack Pug Dog Handler
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    My opinion is a PI should stay within their realm. PIs are useful for insurance fraud investigations, and other civil type ordeals. Leave police investigations to the police

    As far as a PI chasing fugitives I think you are asking for trouble. PIs have no powers of arrest and (like you said) dont even have "rights" of a bondsman / bounty hunter. For that matter - bondmen / bounty hunters have little to stand on themselves.

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  3. #3
    FishTail Guest
    Do PIs have a power to arrest on a felony warrant? Certainly here only a person addressed in the warrant (the Chief Constable of [county] or any Constable) can arrest on the warrant.

  4. #4
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  5. #5
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    Quote Originally Posted by LongTail
    Do PIs have a power to arrest on a felony warrant? Certainly here only a person addressed in the warrant (the Chief Constable of [county] or any Constable) can arrest on the warrant.
    As I understand it (someone correct me if I'm wrong), any citizen in Texas has the power of arrest if they actually witness a felony or breach of the peace in progress - However, no they probably wouldn't have the power of arrest on a warrant alone, although in some cases I suppose flight to avoid an arrest may be a felony so it may stand up on a flimsy technicality - But I wouldn't want to be the test case

    Many PI's are certainly trained for arresting people since they're ex-cops, as my instructor was (he's a retired Federal LE agent), but I'm not trained for anything like that, so I'd definitely call a 911 for the actual arrest if I found one.

    One thing they stressed over and over in class was that a PI's role is collecting evidence, perriod - A professional PI will avoid direct contact with his subject at all cost, both for safety and because of liability reasons.

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