The purpose of an investigation is to uncover facts, right? Yes, it is but the key to any successful investigation is knowing the facts surrounding the alleged misconduct or incident prior to the start of an investigation. Once an investigation has begun, an investigator does not get a second chance to start over. Investigative techniques and methods can be adjusted, however having a clear understanding of the circumstances preceding the misconduct or incident is not only essential, but will serve as a guide throughout the investigative process.
What is a Pre-Investigation? A Pre-Investigation is a fact-gathering investigative tool which will help the investigator determine the best method for conducting the investigation. Pre-Investigations are conducted with an open mind and without any preconceived notions. The Pre-Investigation will look beyond the alleged misconduct or incident to uncover crucial information such as:
• Is this the first time the alleged misconduct has occurred?
• Who could have been involved or who could have been a witness?
• Is there suggestive evidence as to why the incident took place?
• Does hard evidence exist that can assist in the investigation? For example: videos, logs, communications, access control records, etc.
The Pre-Investigation can be applied to all types of offenses including: Criminal Mischief, Sexual Harassment, Product Theft, Time Theft, Intellectual Property Theft and Drugs in the Workplace to name just a few. The Pre-Investigation will provide the investigator with insight as to which investigative technique should be used. This may include conducting interviews, surveillance, covert cameras, forensics, undercover agent, GPS tracking or a combination of any of the above (to also include techniques not mentioned). Lastly, the Pre-Investigation will determine if more than one investigator is needed to assist with the investigation. On large scale investigations, time is the enemy so devoting enough investigators to complete the project in a reasonable time frame is key before facts disappear and memories start to fade.
The Main-Investigation can begin once the Pre-Investigation has been completed. One of the most important elements to remember with any investigation is results cannot be guaranteed. For example, determining who committed theft of company property may or may not be revealed. However, information exposing deficiencies with current policies and procedures that led to the theft may be uncovered. As stated earlier, investigative techniques and methods can and most likely will change as the main-investigation progresses. The investigator’s ability to alter the methods being used based on information learned increases the likelihood for a successful investigation.
The Post-Investigation is a final step that should not be overlooked. The Post-Investigation will examine why an incident occurred and how to prevent it from happening in the future. After the main-investigation has been completed, INTEGRITY recommends a thorough examination of the company’s policies and procedures related to the incident that occurred. If deemed necessary, revisions and/or implementing new policies and procedures may be required. It is also important for an employer to be mindful of the fact not all misconduct is malicious in nature. Sometimes misconduct can occur simply due to insufficient or lack of training, for which programs can be developed and deployed.
For more information, please contact INTEGRITY Security Consulting & Investigations
Ken Carter | President
Beth Sawinski | Director | Client Relations