By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
While exchanging emails with British Columbia Private Investigator, James Craig about what role private investigator ethics and legal regulations may have played in his decision to turn down an assignment offered him by an eager New York based publication --they wanted him to do drone surveillance on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, I also reached out to the Private Investigator Association of British Columbia (PIABC) to get the regulatory rundown. PIABC President/ Membership, Greg Tweed emailed a response that I am publishing in its entirety:
See also: Canadian private investigator refuses to investigate Meghan and Harry's retreat
Harry and Meghan
"With the speculated belief that Prince Harry and Duchess Megan Windsor may move to British Columbia at some point, the question about their privacy in terms of someone hiring a private investigator to follow or gather information about them arises.
In British Columbia, Private Investigators are licensed under the Security Services Act which outlines that private investigation work may be done in furtherance of an “Investigation”. The British Columbia Privacy legislation (Protection of Information Protection Act) sets out circumstances when a person’s privacy may be violated. In simple terms, if there is a breach of an agreement, contravention of an enactment of Canada or a province, a remedy or relief available under an enactment, prevention of fraud or securities trading matters, an “investigation” may be done without a person’s consent. Person’s gathering information in such circumstances are required to be licensed and further bound by requirements to protect the information they acquire and to whom they may disclose it.
So it is unlikely that a private investigation company in BC would undertake an investigation on someone’s behalf without all of the intended privacy safeguards being clearly understood and followed. They would risk not only their license to investigate, but whatever else follows from civil action or other enactments (such as trespassing). In addition, the Criminal Code of Canada sets out numerous offences in relation to harassment, watching and besetting, trespass by night, intimidation, mischief (obstructing, interrupting or interfering with the use of property or any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property) and video voyeurism, to name a few.
While the above outlines legal matters in Canada, it may be more important to understand the culture of how Canadians view celebrities and interactions with them. Canadians may be interested at a distance in celebrities, but generally it is not an obsession. Canadians are usually respectful. Many celebrities feel comfortable in Canada and are either ignored or viewed from a distance. Someone may try for an autograph, selfie or photo from a distance, but the context of the encounter seems to determine how people will behave. Vancouver is a hub of film making. Actors and actresses are commonly seen on the streets and in restaurants. By and large they are simply a curiosity."
Canadian Rockies private investigator refuses to run drone surveillance on Prince Harry and his wife Meghan
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blog
There are private investigators who would jump at the opportunity. An ongoing drone surveillance gig for a major media outlet could mean a stable, long-term assignment for a client with deep pockets. Moreover, "will travel" is prominently featured on British Columbia Private Investigator, James Craig's, homepage.
See also: What role does Canadian drone surveillance regulatory culture play in making Canada an attractive place for A list celebrities to avoid surveillance drones
Craig's firm, which has served Vancouver Island since 1986, certainly has the needed expertise. It was also just fifteen miles from the surveillance site. No wonder the prominent New York media outlet contacted him multiple times by phone and by email. But the seaside, hiking trails, farmers markets, wild osprey and river otters weren't what made the private investigator apprehensive. It was the assignment.
Victoria Times editor and publisher, Dave Obee, who Craig finally notified to explain what was going on, agreed. "They wanted to hire me to investigate Meghan and Prince Harry’s retreat" explained Craig by email. Evidently the media outlet, whose name was not disclosed also wanted the legal investigator to unearth into on the alleged Russian owner of the Sussex's new Canadian residence. "To search for any “dirt” I might be able to uncover," as Craig put it.
In an editorial that posted the morning of Sunday, January, 19th titled, "When royals visit here let them be, let them be" Obee formalized the Victoria newsroom's position: "the separation of Harry and Meghan from the Royal Family is big news around the world. Their connection to our Island is worthy of note, but their day-to-day existence here is not."
Obee went on to explain that the local British Columbia paper wanted no part in disrupting the life of the couple who was driven by tabloid harassment to relinquish their royal titles and retreat from public life. "My decision, not to investigate the matter concerning Harry and Meghan, was based purely on my own personal ethics," Craig explained when I asked whether licensing codes or potential legal repercussions factored into his decision.
"Ethical cods and legal repercussions are always professionally respected, but had nothing to do with my decision," he told me when he forwarded the letter he wrote to the Victoria Times Colonist, expressing his disgust over the media outlets' job offer woven into their ruthless and irreverence for Meghan and Harry's privacy.
The private investigator's "words certainly reinforced what we were thinking in the newsroom," Obee explained when I asked if his own article was prompted by the unusual occurrence. Private investigators rarely contact newspaper editors outside of trade industry publications. Obee said that a newsroom conversation was already underway when the private investigator's email arrived.
"in the end the column was motivated by the insanity of the British press here, chasing Meghan down as she goes about everyday things," Obee told me.
Finding peace, respite and most importantly, privacy in a town whose population is roughly the size of Glenwood Springs, Colorado will not be easy for the well known couple. But having the support of local Vancouver surveillance operatives and newspaper editors might make thing a little easier for them.
New Critics Choice Award for best limited series and best actor winner, "When They See Us," has litigation pending on grounds they make the controversial Reid Technique look bad
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
Last night's Critics Choice Award for Limited Series went to Ava DuVernay for Netflix's "When They See Us" and Jharrel Jerome won for best actor in a limited series. The four episode, nonfiction drama chronicling the story of the five, innocent, young men who were falsely accused and imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit. Now the producers might be entering a different courtroom. One that is not being used as a film set.
See also: Why Innocent People Make False Confessions
The John E. Reid & Associates' pending litigation accuses Netflix and DuVernay of misrepresenting the Reid Technique. The Reid Technique is a sequence of interviews designed to elicit truth telling and factual analysis. "This procedure, termed a Behavior Analysis Interview, has become a standard investigative technique, especially since the passage of the Federal Employee Polygraph Act of 1988, which greatly restricts a private employer's use of polygraph," explains the firm's website.
The legal complaint document, which can be viewed here, claims defamation on grounds that the Reid technique does "not involve and prohibits striking or assaulting a subject, making any promises of leniency, denying a subject any rights, conducting excessively long interrogations and denying a subject any physical needs."
After learning of the firm's pending litigation against Netflix, long-time Colorado private investigator and former police detective and defense investigator, Ellis Armistead said that the Reid Technique is something that starts, "very benign and they (the investigators) say ‘you can go anytime you want.'”
As the interview progresses, things change. "If you look at some of these innocence cases and exoneration cases these people have been interviewed 11 hours with no sleep and no bathroom breaks. Plain rooms, no pictures no calendars no clocks."
Armistead was taught the Reid Technique in the 1970s. "It was then "the gold standard" of interview and interrogation methods." I show Armistead clips for the film set of the 1980s interrogation scenes which resonate with what he remembers. "We had rooms like that. We probably still do. It’s just dealing with this person one on one. If they were stone walling then you don’t get them food but the basic is you try and keep them on edge and uncertain" he recalls adding that he considers it to be potent yet dangerous tool used often by law enforcement.
"Sure, it produced results, but if you look at the infamous wrongful conviction, false confession, and exoneration cases, the Reid Technique was probably used in eliciting a confession." Ultimately he feels there are better methods.
Governments, national and international military and security professionals use the Reid technique. The company also trains businesses in the behavioral psychology based technique that "Reid claims—correctly—to be the leading trainer of police interrogation techniques in the country," according to Nancy Gertner and Dean A Strang's story in Law.com a section of the New York Law Journal.
Their story also points outs that although John E. Reid & Associates still denies fault in, what is widely known as the "Central Park Jogger Case," lead to all five of the accused being exonerated due to DNA evidence. The falsely accused, widely known as the "Central Park Five" went on to win a settlement against New York City and a portion of that settlement ended up in Colorado thanks to Korey Wise's generation donation to the CU School of Law Innocence Project.
Korey Wise, who barely survived the adult prison system and whose story is most gut wrenching of the series, was convicted on December 11, 1990. He wasn't exonerated until December 19, 2002.
Jharrel Jerome who portrayed Wise in the series took home a Best Actor in a Limited Series award from the Critics Choice. Director Ava DuVernay has also been nominated for a Directors Guild of America award.
Ted Johnson's Deadline article quotes Netflix and Ava DuVernay as saying that defamation lawsuit filed over the series should be dismissed as it is an attempt to stifle speech in the debate over police interrogation techniques.
See also: The Colorado Connection to Ava DuVernay's When They See Us
2020 forecast - what happens to salaries if the Colorado private investigator licensing law is sunset?
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook the private detective industry is expected to grow 8% between 2018 and 2028. The annual wage average was $50,090 in 2018 as "demand for private detectives and investigators will stem from security concerns and from the need to protect confidential information." The project that the field is expected to continue attracting qualified people, "including relatively young retirees from law enforcement and the military. Candidates with related work experience, as well as those with strong interviewing skills and familiarity with computers, may find more job opportunities than others," they add. But what happens to this playing field if the mandatory licensing law is taken away?
In effort to obtain an answer by zooming in on Colorado specific-data, I punched in the address of the Ross Investigators, PC, Inc., 1665 Grant St. #304, Denver, CO. 80203 What do the earnings of Colorado private investigators working in or nearby the firm look like now under the current licensing program.
Note that the local and regional salary growth projections do not take into account the late 2019 numbers which may have been impacted by the Department of Regulatory agencies' Sunset Report and DORA's subsequent decision to end the Colorado licensing program by the end of 2020.
Colorado's mandatory licensing program has been in place for half a decade and projecting salaries based on these numbers is problematic but they are still worth looking at.
See also: Colorado Department of Regulatory Agency 2019 Sunset Review recommends the General Assembly sunset to Colorado Private Investigator Licensing Program
Honing in on states without licensing programs --there are only five of them-- might shake things up a bit. Or at least make them more interesting. What happens in states where anyone can hang a shingle and proclaim themselves a private eye? Will the field become saturated or will the cream rise to the top anyway? If DORA's plan to sunset the private investigator licensing program goes through by the end of 2020 will the field become more or less competitive?
The impact of state licensing programs on private investigator salaries
The BLS provides a comprehensive median salary range breakdown for most but not all of those states if you isolate the stats. Wyoming is the only relevant data that is missing.
South Dakota, at $17,770 annually below the national average and $8.54 annually below the national average wins the Golden Raspberry or Razzie for worst salary in an unlicensed state. Boooo South Dakota!Of the five states in the country that don't have licensing programs, fifty percent have salaries that fall below the national average and fifty percent have salaries that exceed the national average. Colorado hovers around the average salary with Denver and the surrounding metro area (which includes Aurora, Lakewood, Englewood, Parker, Castle Rock, Glendale and Boulder).
Colorado's local salary averages do not take real estate, cost of living, unemployment rates or health insurance costs into account. What can we learn from them, regardless. More importantly, is Colorado at risk of becoming another South Dakota or Mississippi which hails at $9,920 annually below the national average?
Perhaps if DORA successfully sunsets the Colorado licensing law salaries will stay the same. Because sure, anyone can hang a shingle but consumers know how to disseminate between whose real-deal and whose not. Or do they?
The Denver Private Investigator Blog will continue to report on this topic. If you are a stakeholder who wants to weigh in, please contact us via email, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
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