Understanding human behavior is vital when trying to do the job of a PI (Private Investigator) – since the force of law is not part of the job. I understand that people come in various varieties: cautious, brave, cowards, and blowhard cowards. Believe it or not, many criminals, violent or non-violent, are, inside of them, cowards.
Three cases are an example of this truth. The first being a woman and her three children who were being beaten by her alcoholic husband. She came to me for help. After talking with her we agreed that she needed to divorce the man. But I knew that divorce would not stop the man and probably only raise his drunken anger to new levels.
So, I first took her to a lawyer friend of mine who began the paper work for a divorce. I then took her to the County Court House and walked her through the process of obtaining a restraining order against her husband. All that was good, but it wasn’t enough to stop the man.
Although I had never met the man, he fit the profile of a coward. He hid behind alcohol and beat a woman and children. Not what a brave man would do. Rather than have a Sheriff’s Civil Deputy serve the restraining order, I decided to serve it myself.
My client told me that her husband had stayed home from work that day after a night of heavy drinking. While my client remained protected at my office, I found him at her home, asleep on his couch. He at first didn’t want to let me into his house but I pushed him aside and walked past him. Inside, I sat on his couch and told him to sit in a chair very near me.
I told him his wife was in the process of divorcing him. I handed him the restraining order and explained that the court was ordering him to stay away from his wife and children pending their divorce. I explained that violation of that order on his part would cause a Sheriff’s Deputy to arrest him and take him before a judge.
I further explained that he really didn’t have to worry about all of that legal stuff. I told him what a Sheriff’s Civil Deputy was and he shouldn’t waste his time worrying about a Sheriff’s Deputy either. I told him a court wouldn’t jail him but warn him not to violate the order again.
I told him his real worry was me. He flinched at that and leaned backwards in the chair. That told me I had him. He was, as I had guessed, a coward. I showed the man my .38 that I carried in a holster at my right hip, and told him that he had to leave the house before 5 PM that day. I told him that he would never touch his wife or children again, that he would submit peacefully to the divorce, or he would answer to me . . . physically. He did exactly what I told him to do. In fact he moved from Portland and it took almost three years for him to make any contact at all with his former family.
On two other occasions I was called upon to protect women who were being physically abused by, in one case a husband and in the other a live-in boyfriend. These occurred about 18 months apart. The end of these cases was a little different than the first one.
Both of the men in these two cases had criminal records. Nothing too serious but both had spent short time in jails. I walked both women through the process of getting a lawyer and getting restraining orders. But I had a hunch that neither of these men would run away as the first man did.
I served both with the orders but their reactions were similar. They laughed and took my threats only halfheartedly. So I handled these cases a little differently.
Both these women expressed a fear for their lives and the life of the daughter of one of them (the other was childless). I knew the streets of Portland and Seattle very well. And I knew the criminal elements of both cities. Knowing this, I was able to get completely knew identities for both women: new names, new Social Security numbers, and completely new backgrounds. With that I relocated each woman to another State where they live in safety today. Until I retired I checked up on them once or twice a year to make sure they were not in danger. Both told me they were happy and felt safe.
After the woman who had a live-in boyfriend had been relocated, the live-in boyfriend came to my office. He asked where his girlfriend was. I answered, “What girlfriend?” Our conversation sank into a minor altercation. The boyfriend apparently went to the police to report this. A uniformed officer came to my office and asked if his report was true. I told him I hadn’t read the report so I didn’t know. The officer asked if I had hit the man. I said, “Yes, just as hard as I could,” and the officer laughed.
My secretary, two office clerks and two investigators were in the office and told the officer I merely defended myself. The officer smiled and left.
Sometimes the expense of working a case is greater than the income. In neither of these two cases did I receive a penny in fees, and I covered all the costs myself.
The moral to these cases is that a PI does not have to be confined by restrictive laws that burden all Law Enforcement Officers. A PI handles cases in particular for a client. In only a few cases does the result of the investigation end in an arrest by the police. A PI can often use the threat of force to complete the job. And in some cases, a PI can use criminal elements to help people. It is often a satisfying career.
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