In the minds of many people outside of law enforcement detectives and private investigators are basically synonymous, or at least heavily overlapping, in nature. This belief often comes from books and movies but in modern times the truth is somewhat different. There’s no question that private investigators and detectives often work side by side, but they are very different in practical terms.
What Is A Detective?
Detective refers to someone who investigates crime who is directly tied to law enforcement. While many people imagine Sherlock Holmes and other similar literary characters as detectives, the truth is that unless they are directly employed full time through local police departments they are technically a private investigator.
Detective is a high ranking police officer, and they often take the lead on trying to gather evidence and solve cases but they must work within the confines of the law and of whatever department they are in.
What Is A Private Investigator?
A private investigator in many ways is reflective of a detective but without the same restrictions. If you love the old Raymond Chandler stories, Sherlock Holmes, or the sleuths that are common through many detective novels then you have a good picture of what a private investigator really is.
In fact, the two jobs require so many of the same skills that often times someone retiring or quitting the force who was a detective actually becomes a private investigator. This is a very conventional shift which is why it happens so often. The main difference is that private investigators are often looking for information and do not need to have a warrant or work within conventional legal means to gather the necessary information.
This is a loophole that helps explain why often times police officers decide to use private investigators or have them just “look around” an area or a person without doing it directly. Then the P.I. can make a report or give an anonymous tip and that might be enough to get the warrant that actual detectives need.
Tying It All Together
Often times the skills are the same, many of the jobs are similar, and there is overlap with certain cases and situations in real life (and plenty more graying the line between the two in fiction) but there is a distinct difference. If they are officially law enforcement then they are detectives. If they can search for information freelance without concern, then they’re private investigators.
If you are looking to hire a private investigator, contact Beau Dietl & Associates today.