Investigative Trends Amid COVID-19
Author: Joe S. Bettner
As we continue through these uncertain and unprecedented times, now more than ever is it important for each and every individual to do their part in helping contribute to the overall health and safety of the world. For many of us this also means continuing to contribute to our professional fields in any way we can. For the investigative community, this outbreak has caused many delays as states and governments continue to take drastic measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. However, there are also great opportunities ahead for those of us in the investigative community.
While many across the country have made the transition to work remotely and practice social distancing, we as investigators anticipated a significant downturn in the activity level of our casework; particularly with surveillance. However, so far, we have seen the opposite effect. Many Claimants have been displaying high levels of activity, including shopping, doing chores and other activities around the house. Many appear to be carrying on much as they would before. While during these uncertain times we have had many Clients put various field-related cases on hold; surveillance may be an exception for the time being. We recommend reviewing your case files, checking in with your Clients and coming to a mutual agreement on how to proceed forward.
Another unique trend we are experiencing is an uptick in the levels of social media activity in several cases. While Claimants are self-quarantining and social distancing, many are more active than ever on social media. This provides a great opportunity to gather evidence as to the types and extent of their current activities. It is human nature to need to interact with those around you, and in times such as this, social media provides this platform. We would highly recommend to all investigators to continue to monitor the social media activity of your Claimants for information which may be relevant to your case.
Meanwhile, it is always wise to revisit investigative processes and take care of various housekeeping items. Given the uncertainty surrounding the times ahead, it is an opportunity to spend some time cleaning up investigative processes (research techniques, database updates, social media updates, video software updates, etc.) and staying up to date with various changes throughout the investigative community. It is also a useful time to consider ongoing training for your staff.
Lastly, one of the most useful things we can do right now as investigators is to prepare ourselves for when life goes back to normal. Once the flood gates open and we are lifted from the restrictions of this national crisis, we had better be prepared for the ensuing levels of activity in all our cases. Staying on top of your files, updating clients, checking your equipment and preparing your teams will be of paramount importance as we move through the weeks ahead. Take this time to go through your case files and select upcoming dates which may be fruitful for follow-up. While the duration of this crisis may be uncertain, one thing that is for certain is we had better all be ready for when life returns to its regular pace.
In the meantime, please be safe and stay healthy!