Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers

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What Do Bounty Hunters and Private Eyes Have in Common?

Posted by Writing PIs on January 30, 2011

A lot actually.

But first, let’s get rid of the notion that private eyes strap on pepper spray a la Dog the Bounty Hunter and track fugitives who’ve skipped court dates. That is, unless the private eye has met state regulations to conduct bounty hunting, also called fugitive recovery (by the way, bounty hunting is illegal in some states).

On the other hand, some bounty hunters are also private investigators. For example, Dog the Bounty Hunter’s sidekick Bobby Brown is a professional private investigator, bail bond agent, and a bounty hunter (he also gives classes for bounty hunting in Colorado).

What do bounty hunters and private eyes have in common?

  • They both conduct people locates (also called skip tracing). Both conduct online searches, court records searches, know how to follow up on leads, and so on.
  • They both conduct surveillances, from stationary (literally, being stationary, such as sitting in a vehicle), mobile (again, sounds like its literal meaning, being mobile such as in a car), or on foot.
  • They conduct interviews. Although a private investigator is more likely to conduct interviews (open-ended questions) vs. interrogations (going for an answer).
  • They must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills. That is, if they want to be successful. If a private eye needs information from a witness, she needs to know how to gain the person’s trust, ask the right questions, not intimidate or anger people to the point they refuse to talk. Same with a bounty hunter–he needs information, can’t afford to alienate contacts who may have knowledge on a fugitive’s whereabouts. You’ve probably seen Duane “Dog” Chapman in action on his TV show–he relates to a person’s need to be valued, to the need to do the right thing. He might be built like a truck, have pepper stray and other intimidating paraphernalia strapped on like some kind of street Rambo, but his voice is warm, his body language open, and he asks sincere questions that make people open up and talk, talk, talk.
  • They must understand the state regulations and statutes that affect their work.

Wish I could say most private eyes are in the kind of physical shape Dog is, but that’s another post.

Wishing you a great week, Writing PIs

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