Posts Tagged ‘Ethics’
Ethics? It’s the Private Investigation Business!
By Ricky B. Gurley and Laurien Rose
Anyone interested in learning about the ethics of the private investigation industry should read Hal Humphreys’ article, The Dishonest Investigator as “Rational Fool.” Humphreys analyzes the trustworthiness of modern private investigators, focusing specifically on the use of GPS mapping systems. Although I agree with much of what Humphreys has written and believe his intent in writing the article is honorable, I would like to mention a few differences of opinion.
“Business doesn’t always have to be a zero-sum game,” Humphreys states.
This is the private investigation business we are talking about — not just any old business like selling used cars or bail bonds. Humphreys is right: this is not a “zero-sum game.” It is not a game at all. In this business, the quality of people’s lives depends on our work. Their freedom, liberty or life itself could be on the line. I believe private investigation work is a “zero-sum business” because anything the investigator loses during a case could be someone else’s gain.
“Case in point: Occasionally, clients will ask me to slap a GPS tracker on a subject’s car. That surely makes surveillance easier, but I’m not willing to do it. Bottom line—it’s cheating,” Humphreys writes.
I have a few ethical questions regarding this statement:
- If you enter into a contract with a client in this business, covering topics like acceptable performance standard, is it ethical to forego using a GPS when it is legal to use one because you are worried about “cheating?”
- If you can legally use the GPS in a case but refuse to because your personal belief is that this would be “cheating,” are you serving your client’s interests or yours?
- Are you offering your client the best service possible if you refuse to use certain tools that are legally at your disposal?
The legality of GPS usage depends on the state you legally work in and circumstance. A private citizen can place a tracking device on any vehicle under his or her own name. Not using a GPS because it is illegal is one thing, but avoiding GPS usage because it violates your idea of fair play is a whole different bowl of fruit when you are contractually obligated to your client.
My observations expose a dilemma in the private investigation business: ethics. This business involves a certain amount of deception, comparable to bluffing in poker or diverting an opponent’s attention in chess by moving a certain piece. But there is one major difference: the private investigation business is not a game. The stakes are high and an investigator that doesn’t use every tool at their disposal doesn’t normally face the consequences — their clients do.
When determining what is ethical, perhaps one should ask: what is the motivation behind my ethics?
Are your ethics easy to justify, but also self-serving? Or do your ethics protect people other than yourself?
If your ethics dictate you will not “cheat” by using a GPS or other legal-to-use technology during a client’s contract case, are you:
a) being ethical by refusing to “cheat?”
b) putting your personal interests above your client’s that you are contractually obligated to serve to the best of your ability?
When I take on a case, my first obligation is to my paying client with whom I signed a contract stating I will perform a service to the best of my ability.
I think the ethical goal should simply be this: an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. If you are not doing everything you legally can to bring favorable results to your client’s case, I don’t think you are giving your client an honest day’s work. Clients (and society) benefit from a private investigator that refuses to do anything illegal while working a case.
Ethics are a moral guideline. Good ethics will lead to honest business, protecting the business owner, clients and society from disreputable, dishonest and damaging acts. The way an investigator behaves in their business should be determined by their personal ethics.
I doubt many people in the private investigation business can even define the term ethics. Although they may throw the word around to get out of doing work or make competition look bad, they would be hard pressed to answer the question: why is it unethical for you to do this or for Investigator X to have done that?
Ethics don’t mean a thing without a clear definition and understanding of why they should be followed.
Often times I see business’s and people proclaim and advertise to the world about how much integrity they have. I often wonder if most of these people have ever really had their integrity tested? People often ask me about other people’s integrity, and most of the reader’s here would be surprised at who I will say has integrity and who I say does not.
To me, integrity is not about being honest, honorable, ethical, and moral when it is easy to adhere to these standards and one has nothing to lose by adhering to such standards, and especially so when one has something to gain by adhering to these standards; but instead integrity is all about adhering to high standards of honesty. honor, ethics, and morality when one has something to lose. The true test of one’s integrity is not won or lost when it is easy to have integrity, but instead when it is difficult to maintain integrity. Of course we can all say we have integrity when we stand to gain fame and fortune by doing the right thing, that is easy. But if you really want to see who has integrity, see who does the right thing when it is difficult to do, and there is nothing to gain and something to lose by doing it.
Glen James, a humble, homeless man can teach us all something about integrity. Glen James is a true example of what integrity is. The Boston Police Department got it right for honoring a man with such true integrity in a time where integrity is little more than a buzz word to get the consumer’s attention.
THE GLEN JAMES STORY
Glen James, Humble Homeless Man Who Returned Bag Of Cash Is Honored By Boston Police
A humble homeless man who returned a backpack full of cash and traveler’s checks to police said he felt “very, very good” to do it and used a ceremony honoring him at police headquarters to thank all the people who have ever given him money on the street.
Glen James said, “I don’t talk too much because I stutter.” But he handed out a handwritten statement in which he said, “Even if I were desperate for money, I would not have kept even a … penny of the money I found. I am extremely religious — God has always very well looked after me.”
The statement also said, “I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone — every pedestrian stranger — who has given me spare change. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said that James’s actions were “really a remarkable tribute to him and his honesty.”
“He’s an honest guy and realized the property belonged to someone else,” Davis said.
The middle-aged man, balding, bespectacled, and thin, appeared friendly but shy and slightly overwhelmed by the attention from the media drawn to a feel-good story.
On his way out of the building after the news conference, the police department clerks gave him an ovation.
James said he had been homeless for several years. He chuckled as he said it felt good to return the money.
James’s statement also gave mayoral candidate Charles Yancey an endorsement, saying Yancey had put “a total of seven dollars into my panhandling cup. I fully endorse Charles YANCEY for Mayor of Boston. He cares!!!” the statement said.
James found the backpack Saturday at the South Bay Center in Dorchester, a sprawling suburban-style shopping complex in Boston visible from the Southeast Expressway.
After making his discovery, James flagged down a passing Boston police officer and handed over the backpack. The backpack contained $2,400 in cash, $39,500 in traveler’s checks, passports, and various personal papers, police said.
ORIGINAL STORY: http://bit.ly/14bHrvM
May we all take from this example, and strive to be more like Glen James….