Word Warriors Public Speaking Club

Sunday, May 4, 2008

PI Agency gets city contract to work on reducing vandalism!

Taken from: http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411749/919953

PIs to keep eye on Manukau taggers
Dec 8, 2006 8:03 AM

The Manukau City Council has a word of warning for those thinking about tagging - you will be caught.

The council has decided to recruit private investigators to help nab vandals who graffiti the city.

Auckland City has used PIs for a number of years and a successful pilot in Manukau earlier in the year has convinced its council to follow suit.

Community Safety Committee chairman Dick Quax says graffiti vandals should beware.

He says tagging costs Manukau City ratepayers about a million dollars a year.

The council says a small number of individuals are responsible for the large amount of graffiti vandalism plaguing the city.

It says enforcement against taggers is a specialised job, and indisputable evidence needs to be collected for arrests and prosecutions.

Source: Newstalk ZB

This is a very successful program for the country of New Zealand so why doesn't it happen in the United States? I will try to explain.

I believe that this would be a great program for cities in the United States to look into but believe that it would have to be modified to some extent. First of all, the crime rate in Auckland City and Manukau City, New Zealand is dramatically lower. The chance of these Private Investigators getting into a gun battle over graffiti is low compared to the United States where most of the graffiti is created by gang members carrying weapons who are marking their territory or writing a message to a rival gang.

In the United States, we have areas that are run-down, dilapidated and almost completely full of near condemned buildings. These areas are called "Ghettos, "Ybarrios" or "The Hood." These are areas that would be tough for a Private Investigator to perform this type of work. Any outsider in those areas are looked at as being possible law enforcement and it is not uncommon for police to be shot at while driving through these areas. This would be an added risk to the private investigator who performs this service. Just ask any LAPD officer who works the 77th in Los Angeles, California, they will tell you that these areas are dangerous and nothing to play with. While I believe a former cop could perform these tasks and survive unscathed, the service would be a lot more expensive than it is in New Zealand and maybe not even cost-effective for some smaller cities.

The other issue at hand is the issue of local law enforcement agencies and their ego. The agencies would have a bruised ego if they were told by city leaders that private investigators were being hired to help solve the graffiti problem which they look at as their job. While the agencies may get a bruised ego from the hiring of private investigators, the normal everyday police officer hates taking vandalism/graffiti reports and I feel that most police officers would welcome the assistance to combat the graffiti. This would allow patrol officers to concentrate on more important issues such as stolen vehicles, drug sales, etc. The only difference between the program that is currently run in New Zealand is that the private investigators in the United States have less power than a private investigator in New Zealand. That dramatic and important difference would make it very difficult for a private investigation agency to perform the exact same job that the private investigators in New Zealand are doing.

The private investigators power of arrest is very important for the success of the program in the United States. A private investigators power of arrest would be the same as a private citizen but not the same as that of a police officer. The liability incurred by a private investigation agency in the United States through various frivolous lawsuits claiming false arrest, assault, etc. could easily bankrupt a private investigation agency.

I believe it is because of the civil liability that is apparent in this type of operation that most private investigation agencies would not be willing to go forward with this type of operation.

What are the solutions to make this type of operation feasible in the United States:

1) Give the private investigators sworn status while on duty since they are former police officers it would not be hard to do. The sworn status would keep the agency or the private investigators from being sued for false arrest and would free up a patrol unit to take care of other business. (For example, make the private investigators assigned to the detail Level 1 Reserve Police Officer's for this operation only).


2) Give the private investigators a police radio and have a free patrol unit (no radio calls, dedicated only to this operation) available to arrest the vandals after being identified and recorded by PI's on surveillance.

One of the above 2 things would have to be implemented for this to be a successful operation in the United States. While most PI agencies won't perform this type of operation, my agency is geared up and ready to perform this type of operation and we are willing to work in concert with the local agencies for them to use us as a tool to reduce and if possible, eliminate the blight that graffiti and vandalism is on a community.

The additional bonus from hiring former law enforcement private investigators who specialize in video surveillance is the quality of video taken and the report that is written. All original video will be stored at Intelligent Ops Corporate office and a copy will be provided to the law enforcement agency unless another arrangement is desired. All reports will be written in legal declaration format for use in criminal as well as civil court.

We are currently in talks with a few select California cities to provide this service and we will let you know the status of our operations as soon as our contract is finalized. If you are a city leader and would like this program for your city, we would be happy to assist you in your efforts and will attempt to work within your budget for this type of program. For more information about the Intelligent Ops International, Inc. program for reduction of vandalism and graffiti, please contact us at President@IntelligentOps.com.

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