Is it a Private Investigator's Duty to Uphold Moral Values?
Posted by Pamela S. on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
Unlike the depiction of private investigators in popular culture, real life professional investigators follows a code of ethics, respect moral values, uphold the law and constantly weigh the ethical considerations while working on a case.
Fictional private investigators, like Philip Marlowe may be able to take the law into their own hands, or break that law by using their fists, weapons, or lock picks to trespass and break and enter, but we don’t operate that way.
It is true that during the course of an investigation we are gathering information that would be considered an invasion of privacy if obtained by someone who was not an investigator. We have a duty to uncover evidence for our clients that may prove deception, fraud or other crimes.
The Internet has made it possible for anyone to obtain information about a person. What they do with that information and how we use our information are what separates the professional investigator from the unscrupulous, or even the criminal element.
We have no control over what a client does with the information we provide. Where does our responsibility end? Let’s say a man wants to locate his ex-wife, who won’t tell him where she lives. Is she hiding out
because she has been abused by this man? How do we know that he isn’t hunting her down to kill her? The ethical investigator takes these questions seriously, because the last thing we want is for an investigation to cause harm to another person.
A tragic example of this is the case of Liam Youens. Youens planned to kill a number of people. He wrote about his obsessions online. In 1999, Youens plotted to kill Amy Lynn Boyer, a young women he had gone to high school with, but didn’t really know. Boyer went away to college and Youens started cyberstalking her.
Boyer did not post personal information online, so Youens hired an online company, Docusearch to obtain information about her. Docusearch provided Youens with Boyer’s place of employment. Docusearch obtained this information through a pretext call conducted by a contracted private investigator.
Youens attended at Ms. Boyer’s workplace and killed her, then took his own life. The Supreme Court of New Hampshire found Docusearch liable for the criminal acts of its customer, Mr. Youens, in February 2003.
This is the problem with many companies that only operate in cyberspace. They are interested in volume and not in conducting quality investigations. They don’t have investigators with a background in law enforcement, such as the team at Sheer Investigations. A savvy, educated and experienced investigator would be able to get a feel for this client. One quick check on the Internet would have shown that he had a collection of weapons and was writing deranged posts on his blog about killing people.
Let’s be frank. We are in the business of selling information. We are also in the business of investigating many issues that require us to delve into our personal moral values, and quandaries often arise. Everyone can make a bad call, viagra canada and lawyers, police, physicians and others who have the weight of a person’s life in their hands understand the consequences and think about their actions.
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are involved in, chances are that there are those who operate on a moral platform and those who don’t.
The FBI’s Office of Integrity and Compliance and the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association hold a yearly Compliance Academy for compliance professionals in various fields to learn about ethics and integrity. The FBI is the first federal agency to launch a compliance program or office.
Private investigators conduct much of their work for lawyers. Lawyers are governed by the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC). Licensed private investigator must also follow a code of ethics. We believe in justice and moral values and work hard to ensure that our industry promotes these values.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.