- Dean Smith
Conducting Surveillance in the Intelligence Age
As we all know, surveillance is not what it used to be. Gone are the days that we receive an assignment and start blind.
With all of the resources available to us at our fingertips or with the click of a button, we enhance our ability to locate, investigate and profile claimants to ensure a cost-effective investigation.
The pre-surveillance work conducted before embarking on every surveillance assignment and the techniques used to profile claimants have given us new direction and a starting point that was not available just a few years ago.
Surveillance 101 starts with PREPARATION and PLANNING. The ICU staff takes advantage of all information developed through social media, proprietary databases, location scans, etc., prior to heading out on an assignment.
Investigators must have a solid plan to approach each individual surveillance assignment to maximize results. No two surveillance assignments are alike, just like no two claimants are alike. The characteristics of each individual vary greatly, and planning around a work or school schedule, alleged injuries, where they live, age, relationships, modes of transportation, etc. are all taken into consideration.
Once on-site, the plan must be refined according to the environment. How close are the claimants to any subways or bus stops? Are there additional, unknown vehicles in the driveway? Can you see the house from the street and/or established surveillance position? Can you park on the street anywhere near the home safely or undetected? How many exits does the building have? The list goes on and on.
However, even with all of the resources that ICU has grown with and adapted to, there are some things that you just cannot teach. It takes a special kind of person to conduct surveillance (and truthfully, to conduct any investigation, internally or in the field). Let’s face it; not everyone is cut out for this type of work. Investigators must have the following:
Patience – In each interview process, investigators are asked if they like fishing. If they hate it, they can’t be a surveillance investigator. And why is that? Because it’s all about a waiting game. Investigators spend upwards of 8-12 hours in a vehicle waiting for just one glimpse of a claimant. If you don’t have the patience for it, you will not succeed.
Focus – Maintaining your focus throughout the course of a surveillance assignment is paramount. It only takes a second for a door to open and close. Much can be learned or lost in that moment.
Tenacity – You must be tenacious day in and day out to constantly acquire video on your clients’ behalf. The environment, weather and location of the surveillance are constantly changing from moment to moment, place to place. There are a multitude of outside factors trying to prevent you from acquiring great video – whether it is traffic, a school bus, a traffic cop, a nosy neighbor, a busy parking lot, a crowded subway or an empty subway. You must be tenacious through it all and press on, undetected, to get great video…and we do.
THAT is why we are so selective and meticulous in our hiring process. We vow to provide our clients with quality work, accompanied by unparalleled customer service, and we won’t settle for anything less.