Private Investigator vs Police Detective
Everybody knows what a police detective does. Police detectives solve crimes. But so do private investigators. So what’s the difference between a private investigator and a police detective?
Well, police detectives are usually the first to a scene of a crime. They also serve other roles. According to Wikipedia, “The police are a constituted body of persons empowered by a state, with the aim to enforce the law, to ensure the safety, health and possessions of citizens, and to prevent crime and civil disorder.”
Private investigators rarely if ever actually enforce the law. Private investigators can help ensure the safety and well being of others and also ensure the safety of their possessions and property. Private investigators can also help to prevent crime by guarding and protecting people and places.
While the roles of a private investigator and a police detective can overlap in some areas they are very different.
Private Investigators are NOT police detectives.
The following areas are where private investigators are most different from police detectives:
- Most private investigators don’t carry a gun, but almost all police detectives do. Many private investigators obtain special licenses to carry a gun while they are working on a case and they carry a gun mostly for safety. They rarely, if ever, enforce any laws with that gun.
- Private investigators rarely wear a badge where as a police detective almost always will. There is no reason for a private investigator to carry a badge. Those that do on a regular basis are usually amateurs who don’t know any better.
- Private investigators aren’t usually allowed near a crime scene until AFTER the police detectives have processed the scene for evidence.
- Private investigators are regular citizens who are licensed by the state to operate as private investigators. Police detectives are not regular citizens.
- Private investigators can’t arrest a police detective, but a police detective can arrest a private investigator.
- Private investigators don’t have a hierarchy system like the police do. For example, there’s no Major ranking, or Chief ranking. Some private investigators might choose to use such rankings within their company but these rankings mean nothing outside the company.
- Private investigators can’t pull people over in traffic, police detectives can.
- Private investigators can’t usually detain people, but police detectives can detain and arrest someone on suspicion of a crime.
So, as you can see, the issues of private investigator versus police detective is a large one. Private investigators are essentially just regular citizens who have special permits to access personal data. These licenses also allow them to place people and places under surveillance. If you were to place a person under surveillance and not have a license to do so, you’d probably be charged with felony stalking. You can’t just follow someone around without being licensed as a private investigator.