By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blog
Lightning struck outside my window as I sipped afternoon tea on Summer Solstice last weekend contemplating which Denver Private Investigator Blog ideas to turn into timely and relevant articles about the Colorado's private investigator industry.
If you were on surveillance in Byers, Cope, Burlington, Limon Karval, Eads or Cheyenne Wells over summer solstice weekend you would have been enjoying some refreshingly mild --though unseasonably-- cool days. If you surveillance assignment extended into the last week of June your surveillance assignments --especially if they involve sitting in parked cars for extended periods of time-- might start to become uncomfortable toward the end of June.
According to AccuWeather, your July surveillance assignments will be relatively bearable, providing they're in Colorado Springs where temperatures hover in the 70s and 80s next month. If you're in Denver moving into late July you may start melting into your car seat as temperatures push into the 90s while you're waiting and watching and waiting and watching. Taking photos and videos and/or crossing hot asphalt to serve papers over driveways and parking lots is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for people whose workplace requirements include air conditioning. It's not a bad time to revisit what we shared on staying cool in a hot car and the parts of Colorado:
See also: Best and worst Colorado regions for surveillance jobs
That said, the foreseeable future of the private detectives whose primary revenue source is surveillance may have a new competitor. The new competitor is impervious to sweltering summer heat waves as well as to the monotony of sitting in a parked car for excruciating amounts of time. Hot carseats to not bother this new competitor. Nor does the smell of perspiration. It is a competitor that requires no air conditioning or kevlar vests. This new competitor does not sleep. It doesn't even defecate or urinate.
On June 12, 2015 Amazon filed a patent for a "drone based surveillance system" and on June 5th, the patent was granted by the United States Government. Publications all over the country have been flailing around trying to figure out what Amazon plans on doing with the patent. Perhaps private investigators need to start weighing in, too.
Quartz, wasted no time in pointing out that Amazon has already been in the surveillance business using devices like Alexa (disclosure: I have one and have concluded it's convenience outweighs it's heinousness) but that doesn't really detail whether or not this may be used for something less benign than an aerial delivery of your Whole Foods purchases.
The above photo was snapped during a purely recreational drone flight I took over Denver's Cheesman Park and Botanic Garden last year. I have participated in projects like Denver's 48 Hour Film Project that used drones cinematically. I'm not a world dominating corporation like Amazon, though.
This is the link if you'd like to check out the patent for yourself and trying speculating on the long term impact this could have on the private eye industry. Bottom line being, will Amazon drones be taking over surveillance jobs?
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JulBy Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
Spring and digital forensic investigation is in the air. The annual Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado (PPIAC) conference takes place July 24th - July 26th at the Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs this year. The PPIAC annual training event will feature a workshop with Amber Schroader about smart phone and the apps that rule them and an advanced online investigation workshop with Cynthia Hetherington. Perhaps most intriguing to me personally, as I'm putting together my first podcast, is the Sheila Wysocki workshop titled, "Podcasting, the Next Investigative Tool."
An added bonus feature of the timing is that the training will overlap with July 24th so the event will kick off with a PI Day (Not to be mistaken for March 14, which is Pi day) celebration. The national holiday takes place annually on the birthday of Eugene Francois Vidocq, the very first Private Investigator who founded the first known detective agency in 1833.
You don't need to wait until summer to attend a PPIAC event, though. On Wednesday, June 5th you can attend a PPIAC training on what process service looks like from the attorney's point of view. This unique training opportunity takes place at 6:30 (arrive at 6:00 if you want to arrive in time for networking) at the Hilton Denver Inverness which is located at 200 Inverness Drive West in Englewood. Colorado process servers as well as private investigators and lawyers would have a lot to gain by attending.
If, after reading the last two posts, you are eager to delve more deeply into digital forensics, Chris Wells recommends the upcoming LEVA Digital Multimedia Evidence Training Symposium that takes place October 7th through 11th in Denver
See also: Colorado digital evidence consultant Chris Wells
If you're sure whether or not you/re ready for the deep dive, the University of Colorado Denver College of Arts and Media has a National Center for Media Forensics. It was created, in part, by the Department of Justice including the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance and offers training courses as well as a graduate program.
As far as summer reading recommendations go, Colorado Public Radio host, Ryan Warner will be doing a live Q&A with Colorado writer Peter Heller at the Avalon Theater on June 20th. They will discuss Heller's new wilderness survival thriller and mystery, The River. The event takes place in Grand Junction and is a great opportunity for private investigators on Colorado's Western slope.
The new Denver Private Investigator Blog Instagram will also be sharing books about investigation and litigation throughout the summer so be sure to subscribe by clicking the Instagram feed and icon on the website. You can also check out the first set of books we recommended by going here.
Colorado digital evidence consultant Chris Wells on Facebook and the Colorado Bar Association's sock puppet prerogative
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
To get a second opinion on the stalking suspects safely issue discussed in the previous post, I asked Boulder based Computer and Cell Phone Forensic Examiner, Chris Wells about using
See also: Digital 101 forensics workshops for Denver attorneys and private investigators
Facebook to research suspects and/or persons of interest. Wells concurred with Jones' stipulation adding, "Facebook does not provide a 'who viewed my profile' capability."
See also: Storyful's News Intelligence and Investigative Journalist Kelly Jones talks Stalk Scan for private investigators
Facebook's terms of service explicitly prohibits the creation of a bogus profile. This means, using that fake name, photo and online identity, as private investigators sometimes do, is an ethical violation that could get a firm in hot water during testimony. It could also cost individual investigators their membership to a professional organization. Organizations like World Association of Detectives (WAD), National Association of Legal Investigators Professional Private Investigators (NALI) and the Association of Colorado (PPIAC) [Disclosure: the author of this article is an associate member of the PPIAC] all have ethical codes to help maintain the integrity of a profession that is frequently misrepresented in Hollywood. Section 2 of the PPIAC's code of ethics states, "We will not advertise our work, skill or merit in an unprofessional or misleading fashion and will avoid all conduct or practice likely to discredit or do injury to the dignity and honor of our profession."
"It's easy (though against Facebook policy)" Wells points out as an example, "to create a bogus Facebook profile, and use it to do things anonymously on Facebook. For example, I download a picture of you from the Web, create a 'Susanna Speier' Facebook account using that picture, then start friend'ing people with it."
In addition to violating Facebook policy it would violate Section 2 of the PPIAC code of ethics but not all of Colorado's licensed private investigators have trade organization memberships. To throw yet another monkey wrench into the ethical works, a 2017 regulation protecting Colorado attorneys' authority to "direct advise or supervise others" to, in essence, behave deceitfully. Rule 9.4 section C of the Colorado Bar is, in essence, a sock puppet prerogative.
See also: Colorado's new misconduct rule: what will the consequences be?
A demanding client can direct a Colorado private investigator to create an online decoy profile and use that profile to to obtain information on Facebook that he or she may not otherwise have access to, despite the precarious situation it would put their client and associates in if discovered.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Rule 8.4 section 3 is addressed by Colorado's new Attorney General, Phil Weiser now that the Attorney General responsible for putting it there in 2017, Cynthia Coffman, is out of office.
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