From the Ranks of Law Enforcement to the World of Due Diligence and Private Investigations: What Do You Do When You Lose Your Investigative Superhero Powers?

Topics: Criminal Enforcement, Due Diligence, Financial Crime, Financial Fraud & Anti-Money Laundering, Fraud, Government, Private Investigations, Technology


I was retired only a short while when the phone rang. It was an old law enforcement buddy that had retired as well and was on to new career managing a large corporate security apparatus. As the former Deputy Superintendent for the New Jersey State Police who oversaw all specialized investigations across the Garden State, I quickly realized that I was being asked for a contact I could recommend that had the right knowledge and insight for understanding organized crime in New Jersey.

As I listened to my friend describe what was needed for a specific due diligence investigation, I could visualize that what my friend was asking for was something that I could do. After all, I was now a licensed private detective, and it would probably be a lot of fun to jump in and engage. I agreed to assist my friend, hung up the phone, and then it hit me… now what?

Navigating the Unknown

Mulling things over, particularly what would be needed in terms of information to support the leads I would be pursuing, I found myself at a loss. What used to be as easy as speaking to other investigators under my command or “hitting the tube” to run computer queries in support of a logical investigation was now something well out of my reach. Astounded by the scarcity of information I had once taken for granted because of its abundance, I turned to friend from Thomson Reuters who was in the business of information.

He let me know that what I was now experiencing was common. He explained that most retired cops, when they jump back into the fray, quickly realize they have lost their “superhero powers.” In other words, we no longer have access to the sorts of information needed to better understand the environment within which we now operate and evaluate the available information we do have.

While I managed to successfully navigate this new investigative assignment and make my corporate security friend a happy client, I came to realize the importance of three key areas that investigators, particularly retired cops, need to rely upon when starting anew.

  1. Leverage your Network

After a 25-plus-year career with the New Jersey State Police with assignments in intelligence fusion, counter terrorism, and violent crime, I had developed an impressive network, not just within New Jersey, but nationally and globally as well.

While I relied on this network as a sworn police officer, I now realized that this same network was just as important and, in many cases, more important when you are outside of law enforcement. The ability to pick up the phone or send a text to gain an understanding of an issue or to outsource a project could only be realized when a network is leveraged was crucial. And this network has become indispensable for me. After all, it was this same network that led to the phone call that launched me on this case for a new client.

  1. Brush Up on Training

When you retire as high-ranking law enforcement officer, there is a tendency for some retirees to think they have seen it all and therefore need to only rely on their gut or personal experiences to advance matters. At the pace of things today, particularly related to cybercrime and the internet, those solely relying on their past personal experience quickly become irrelevant.

By registering for new training courses offered by today’s topical experts, I found that not only was my vigor renewed, but my knowledge, skills, and abilities were expanded. I found that Cynthia Hetherington, of the Hetherington Group — another New Jersey native — offered a litany of courses that this former superhero could benefit from. Her training offered me a greater awareness of the new strategies and techniques I could use to support investigations in both the physical and virtual world.

  1. Use Commercial Data

Finally, after coming to the realization that you are only as good as the information and intelligence you possess to understand a particular problem, I recognized that it was necessary to subscribe to commercial data services.

Here I was upon retirement facing a dearth of information that I knew would not be helpful when pursuing the investigative assignments, I would be seeking in the future. My future clients would undoubtedly demand more than just investigative gut instincts. The commercial data services to which I now subscribe provide me the contextual information needed to better understand the environment I will be hired to assess.

Restoring the Powers

Today, I have restored many of my lost superhero powers. By leveraging my network, by partaking in topical training courses, and by subscribing to commercial data services, I am as sharp as I was when donning the law enforcement cape.