Why I Do What I Do!
Private Investigation work is hard work. It is emotionally taxing many times. It is stressful almost all the time. The hours can be rough on a person. Often times Private Investigation work can take a toll on one’s family and/or home environment. And every Private Investigator will find themself with at least a few detractors if they stay in business for only a small amount of time; sometimes the Private Investigator is just not a popular person. There are certainly some liabilities in Private Investigation work. Well all of this is true for the Private Investigator that actually works at being a Private Investigator; anyway. So I guess that a fair question to ask is “why do the work if it can be so difficult and dreadful”? I know that the answer to this question will vary from Private Investigator to Private Investigator. For me there is a single defining moment that made me realize why I continue to do Private Investigation work. I could say it is the money because I have made some pretty good money at this line of work. I could also say that it is the opportunity to manage and own my company. But while those two explanations may be good reasons to stay in this business they are not why I have stayed in this business.
Before I explain that one defining moment that has kept me in the Private Investigation business let me also say that sometimes I get frustrated in this business. Sometimes I get annoyed and irritated in this business. I know that this business has made me more of a callous person that I was before I started doing Private Investigations. I know that I am not a very trusting person now because of some of the things that I have seen and encountered in the Private Investigation business. I fully understand that no business is perfect but yet I do expect competency and integrity from my fellow Private Investigators; and not just as “buzz words” on a webpage but as standards that are practiced in such a way to show that my fellow Private Investigators know what they mean and understand how important they are. I also know that I have become a very “high-strung” person from years of seeing things that I just don’t believe to be fair to other people. There is no doubt that I have become quite outspoken about many of these things; but I am not so sure that this is a bad thing because I think that it does show that I still have a sense of fairness, and compassion for people who are treated unfairly.
Despite all the issues that I have just listed in the past two paragraphs that I seem to grapple with constantly; I still love this profession. I still know that one can make some significant differences in this profession. I still believe that the people in this profession can truly make a difference in people’s lives for the better. And that one defining moment that I mentioned in the first paragraph made me certain of these statements.
In 2004 I received a call from an attorney in Los Angeles, California. This case is 7 years old, so I can write about it now. She had a client whose daughter had been “abducted”. Now this incident was not your traditional abduction where a stranger abducts a person; this was what is known as a parental abduction. Simply put a parental abduction usually occurs when a non-custodial parent that has visitation rights with their child simply picks the child up for visitation and refuses to return the child to the custodial parent. The attorney told me that she had some information that the non-custodial parent was living in Columbia, MO. and she wanted me to see if I could find the non-custodial parent and gather evidence that her client’s daughter was with the non-custodial parent. I was sure that I could help and I told the attorney so. So the attorney had her client call me. Enter Francisco Ochoa, the custodial parent whose daughter was not returned to him by the non-custodial parent after the court ordered visitation. After taking copious notes over the phone with Mr. Ochoa and receiving a retainer from Mr. Ochoa I started my investigation. I did all the investigative work I could from the computer before going in the field as any good Private Investigator would. After I had all the information I could gather from database searches, court records research, running background information on the non-custodial parent, and making phone calls to various people who might be able to give me some leads to follow-up on I went out in the field with 2 other Private Investigators that were licensed under my company. Within seventy-two hours we had found the non-custodial parent’s location, verified the daughter was there, and took several pictures of the daughter at the location. I sent all of this information back to the attorney with the pictures and kept surveillance on the location while the attorney petitioned the court for an emergency custody order showing that Francisco Ochoa was the custodial parent and that the daughter was with the non-custodial parent after the visitation time had elapsed. Within one week Mr. Ochoa was on his way from Los Angeles, California to Columbia, Missouri with that emergency custody order to pick his daughter up. When Mr. Ochoa arrived he and I went to the Columbia Police Department with his emergency custodial order and my evidence of his daughter’s whereabouts and the Columbia Police Department wasted no time at all in getting several Officers out to the address that I had under surveillance to recover Mr. Ochoa’s daughter for him while he waited at the Columbia Police Department. I also had to go out to the address to serve the mother with some paperwork from the court in Los Angeles, California. I remember returning to the Columbia Police Department at about the same time that the Police Officers did with Mr. Ochoa’s daughter. I also remember when Mr. Ochoa’s daughter came up to him that he gave her a big hug and just simply broke down in tears, crying tears of joy that he was reunited with his daughter. I remember this moment in time because I also remember that when I saw this big man crying while hugging his daughter it was all I could do to stop myself from shedding a few tears too. The emotions were simply overwhelming. I can’t begin to describe how emotional that moment was but I can tell you this; I’ll remember it forever. And I thought to myself that there could be no other sense of accomplishment and feeling that I had made a significantly positive impact in these people’s lives greater than what I was experiencing right then and there. I could not think of any other job in the world that I could have that would have allowed me to experience that one moment in time. From that day forward I have not wanted to do anything else other than what I am doing now. If I had to trade in all the money that I made on that case just to experience that one moment in time I’d do it without even as much as a second thought.
This is why I do what I do. These brief moments in time when I know that I made a difference in someone’s life. These moments don’t happen often; they are quite rare. But it only takes one of these defining moments to make all the sacrifice and hard work, all of the frustration and irritation worth being in this profession.
I hope that every Private Investigator in this profession has at least one of those defning moments in the course of their time in this profession.
RIcky B. Gurley