The next quarterly meeting will be on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at 12PM (noon) CST
The October 17, 2018 meeting was the last quarterly meeting of the year for the association, and the focus of the meeting was a vigorous roundtable discussion of the types and methods of improvement that are part of the scheduled events for the upcoming 2019 year. Senior membership elements took their turns offer their views and opinions on topics ranging from technology to charitable donations, to featured speakers and audio teleconferencing. President Brett Brodersen wished to express his personal thanks to the members for taking the time to bring these issues the expertise and enthusiasm that he feels will drive them forward.
Lincoln Police Department officers Corey Weinmaster and Sarah Genoways gave an informative and insightful presentations on the subject of social media investigations, and the broader issues involving technical investigations. The topics covered ranged from law to implementation to manpower and resource allocations, and the issues confronted during the course of a standard investigation. NALPI wishes to also take this moment to thank Officers Genoways and Weinmaster for taking the time out of their very busy respective schedules to speak on these issues that can potentially impact all Nebraska licensed investigators.
In consideration of the excessively low temperatures and the risks associated with members' safety in traveling in such weather, it was voted upon and decided to cancel the first quarterly meeting of the association scheduled for January 17, 2018. All normal business was carried forward to the April 18, 2018 meeting.
The famous criminal defense attorney and one of American Trial Lawyers' Top 100 Lawyers James Martin Davis (of the Davis Law Office, Omaha, NE, www.jamesmartindavis.com) gave a very informative presentation in a previously-recorded segment from our archives. Mr. Davis, who can list among his professional accomplishments being both a former intelligence asset for the United States government, and being a former Secret Service agent, offered a presentation on laws pertaining to the investigative profession and industry, offering both concrete examples of said laws, as well as commonsense reasons why these laws are relevant, and potential penalties for the violations of those laws. NALPI wishes to also take this moment to thank Mr. Davis for previously taking the time out of his very frenetic schedule to speak on these time-sensitive and extremely relevant issues that can potentially impact all Nebraska licensed investigators, and for the effectiveness of his presentation.
Associate General Counsel and Licensing Director David Wilson offered an excellent conversation on, among other subjects, the dual licensing of licensed professional investigators. Helping to remove any misunderstanding about criteria for dual licensing, and the proper paying of Nebraska sales tax, Mr. Wilson then expanded on the similarities and differences among the plain clothes investigators, private detectives, and private detective agencies. Mr. Wilson helped the association better understand what options are available to them, and to make sure that all those present are in the proper category of investigators. Other topics covered during the Q&A session included concerns about investigations and related work sometimes threatening to overlap into the forbidden area of collections, repossessions, occupational taxes, and various applicable legislation that may or may not be pending in the next legislative session and that are potentially relevant to the investigative industry. Also discussed in great detail was how complaints against investigators are received and handled in the licensing division office, what information is retained in files and what of that information is available to the inquiring public. NALPI wishes to also take this moment to thank Licensing Director Wilson for taking the time out of his very frenetic schedule to speak to the association on these time-sensitive and extremely relevant issues that can potentially impact all Nebraska licensed investigators, and for his willingness to speak at length on these matters.
The association would like to thank Brooke Sieff, forensic science teacher at Burke High School in Omaha, Nebraska, who gave a presentation and spoke at length on forensic learning. This involved statistics and handouts, as well as exercises designed to test our individual abilities to discern and recall detail. The results were both entertaining and enlightening, and Ms. Sieff's extensive educational background (degrees in psychology, teaching, and literacy, as well as extensive backgrounds as a teacher, social worker and others) made her an engaging personality who was able to successfully impart information while creating rapport with the audience. The broader topic itself reminded us how many disciplines and applications there are when considering the word "forensics," and how important it is that even licensed and experienced investigators keep their minds open to new ways of learning. The association wishes to once again thank Ms. Sieff for her time and for willingness to speak at length on these matters.
The association would like to thank Jan Welch and Dan Johnson, owners of Secured Data Services (Fremont, NE), both senior NALPI members, who offered a very significant discussion on the subject of background checks - for employment, by third parties, and along related lines. The topics included discussions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumer reporting agencies, investigative consumer reports, social media investigations, reference checks, and so on. They also spoke at length on the role that professional investigators can and do play in the process, and when liabilities may be involved, and also included personal insight gained from various cases in which they were directly involved. Colored with both humorous and serious personal anecdotes, the presentation was followed by a vigorous Q&A session where members were able to follow up with their own questions. Good exchanges were made and insights gained from the presentation, and we wish to again thank both of these NALPI members for their time and for their willingness to speak at length on these matters.
The association would like to thank Assistant Federal Public Defender Jessica MIlburn (from the office of the Federal Public Defender - District of Nebraska) for a very insightful and informative presentation on the fundamentals of criminal defense work, and the role that professional investigators can and do play in the process. Ms. Milburn's fifteen years' worth of experience offered not only extensive knowledge as to the process of criminal defense at the federal level, but also personal insight gained from various cases in which she was involved. Colored with both humorous and serious personal anecdotes, the presentation was followed by a vigorous Q&A session where members were able to follow up with their own questions. Good exchanges were made and insights gained from the presentation, and we wish to again thank Ms. MIlburn and her office (more specifically, Mr. Dave Stickman) for their willingness to educate the membership on these matters.
Our association members, regardless of tenure or current position held, are screened prior to acceptance, and pledge themselves in writing to adhere to high standards of legal and ethical behavior. However, the possibility always exists that someone may attempt to claim that they are a member when in fact they are not.
Just as someone can verify an individual's current detective license status through the Nebraska Secretary of State's Licensing Division website (see http://www.sos.ne.gov/licensing/private_eye/), so an inquiring member of the general public can easily verify if someone is as active association member simply by checking the "Members" link on the NALPI.org website and searching for an individual alphabetically by his/her surname.
If you have reason to believe that someone is falsely holding themselves out as a member of the Nebraska Association of Licensed Private Investigators, whether past or present and regardless of what form that representation might take (e.g., verbal, written, printed, electronic, internet, etc), you are encouraged to contact us immediately via firstname.lastname@example.org. It is irrelevant if that person is believed to be a licensed or a private individual, a detective agency or some other entity; we take all inquiries seriously and any information you provide will be held in the highest confidence.
Thank you for helping to keep the public safe from this type of potential fraud by misrepresentation.
The association would like to thank Current Senior Attorney, Assistant City Prosecutor Michael Winchester, of the City of Omaha's legal department, for the presentation entitled "Looking Back on Thirty Years of Prosecution." Mr. Winchester's hard-hitting factual and anecdotal presentation explaining the true nature of the process was beneficial to the investigators who can typically only see one side of the process. The association wishes to thank Mr. Winchester for offering his time and insights into making the presentation.
The text of the story, as attributed to the Associated Press and reported in the Lincoln Journal-Star (http://journalstar.com/news/local/), is as follows:
“OMAHA — An Omaha private investigator convicted of fraud has been given a year and a day in prison.
Federal prosecutors say 70-year-old Patricia Walker-Halstead was sentenced Friday to two years of supervised release after she leaves prison and was ordered to pay restitution of $500,000.
Walker-Halstead pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud after prosecutors dropped 10 other counts in exchange.
Prosecutors said she lied to a client about developing evidence and conducting background checks. Court records say Walker-Halstead told the unnamed client she asked a Nebraska State Patrol investigator to help investigate the client's security concerns. She asked her client to give him money because of his financial problems and medical bills. Authorities said there was no patrol investigator on the case.”
NOTE: Walker-Halstead is not now, nor has she ever been, a member of the Nebraska Association of Licensed Private Investigators
Former NALPI board members Steve Koenig and Tom Gorgen offered an excellent joint presentation entitled "40 Years of Surveillance." While specifics cannot be discussed here as certain elements are considered proprietary and some anecdotal details involve real-life cases, we wish to extend our thanks to both men for offering tremendous insights into their decades of firsthand experience in the realms of law enforcement and professional investigations. From real-life experiences to equipment to vehicles and techniques, the presentation was a great success and was greatly appreciated. NALPI wishes to also take this moment to thank both of these men for their years of continued service while serving on the boards of multiple professional associations, in both Nebraska and beyond our state borders.
We were very pleased to have NALPI's own President Brett Brodersen, of the detective agency The Magnus Group, Inc (Omaha, NE) give his presentation entitled "Deep and Dark: The Hidden Web" and the accompanying video. The term "Deep Web" is interchangeable with "Ultra Web" and "Dark Web" and refers to those parts of the Internet that are not catalogued or index, or searchable by typical search engines such as Google. The Deep Web is estimated to be approximately 500 times larger than the searchable "top layer" of the Internet, and is filled with activism, drugs, currency, hitmen, and other material, much of which is objectionable to many people. Citing multiple real-life examples, the presentation was well received and feedback found it to be very insightful.
The presentation was a great experience for the membership, and much commentary and discussion followed. President Brodersen was able to shed some light on some of the legal ramifications of entering the Deep Web for curiosity or legitimate investigative purposes, and fostered an open discussion for others who have had similar concerns and/or experiences. We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank President Brodersen for his willingness to speak at length on this issue.
We were very pleased to have Investigator Cindy Koenig-Warnke of the Lincoln Police Department's Technical Investigations Unit (TIU) give her presentation on the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Such a person may be vulnerable from age or mental condition or circumstance. With the average age of persons in Nebraska growing longer, and the rise of "baby boomer" retirees now entering their later years, it is important to hear from a qualified and experienced investigator what the signs and indicators are, especially when considering the odds of complete remuneration to the victims in the example cases being rather small. Citing multiple real-life cases and following the case progression in a clear and concise step-by-step narrative, the presentation was certainly invaluable. Being an active participant in these and other "white collar" crimes, Investigator Koenig-Warnke was able to add much personal insight into both the process and the personalities involved.
The presentation was a great experience for the membership, and much commentary and discussion followed. Investigator Koenig-Warnke was knowledgeable and friendly in helping to open dialogue and participate in those discussions. We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Investigator Koenig-Warnke and the Technical Investigations Unit of the Lincoln Police Department for her willingness to speak at length on this issue which, unfortunately, shows no indication of decreasing in frequency.
We were very pleased to have Investigator Christina Vath of the Nebraska Department of Justice give her presentation entitled "The Helen Wilson Homicide Case: What Do You Think...What Do You Know...What Can You Prove." With its historical, investigative, analytical and revisional aspects, it was certainly an engaging presentation. Investigator Vath was involved in the re-investigation of this case, and as such added much personal insight into both the process and the personalities involved.
The presentation was a great experience for the membership, and much commentary and discussion followed. Investigator Vath was knowledgeable and friendly in helping to open dialogue and participate in those discussions. We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Investigator Vath and the office of Attorney General Anderson for both her time and her willingness to speak at length on this case.
Please click on the thumbnail below to view the higher-resolution image.
We were very pleased to have Officer Cassandra Nissen of the Lincoln (NE) Police Department give her presentation entitled "Law Enforcement and Private Investigators: A Cooperative Relationship." The multimedia presentation was both very entertaining and quite informative.
Officer Nissen, a ten-year veteran with the Lincoln Police Department, is currently attached to a community services unit. She brought to the presentation her experiences from years of work as a street-level law enforcement officer, and went on to explain some of the inner workings of the police department's structure regarding interaction with licensed investigators, as well as rare insights into how her fellow officers perceive investigators, what they expect and require of them, and how reputation and previous behaviors are relevant factors in the interactive process. Her experience and insight into the workings of the Lincoln Police Department were of great benefit, and the open forum style that allowed for interactive discussions with the audience was equally helpful.
It was not possible for Officer Nissen to answer all of the questions posed to her by the assembled membership, but she remained even beyond her allotted time in order to answer questions.
The presentation was a great experience for the membership, and much commentary and discussion followed. Positive interaction between law enforcement at all levels, and professional investigators in their various disciplines and capacities, is critical in maintaining efficient and error-free relationships, and Officer Nissen was knowledgeable and friendly in helping to open dialogue and participate in those discussions. We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Officer Nissen and the Lincoln Police Department for both her time and her willingness to speak at length on these very important issues.
We were very pleased to have Licensing Director and Assistant General Counsel David Wilson speak to the membership on the status and direction of the state's licensing division. His presentation (and the following Q&A session) actually ran longer than any other on record with the Association, and the membership was quite engaged . Mr. Wilson expanded on multiple subjects including office staff, trending subjects, rules and regulations, non-licensed individuals, unlicensed investigators operating within the state's borders, procedures for complaints against licensed investigators, and the denial of new potential investigators seeking to work for an established agency.
Mr. Wilson's experience and insight were of great benefit, and the open forum style that allowed for interactive discussions with the audience was equally helpful. The presentation was a great experience for the members, and we would like to take this opportunity to once again thank him for his time and willingness to speak at length on these very important matters.
OMAHA – Recently, an unknown individual using the name "Sean Jackson" and claiming to be an "investigator" who was working for a "private source" was reported to NALPI by the director of security of a large business in the greater Omaha area. This individual made contact with the director by e-mail using an unbranded Hotmail account "email@example.com" and attached a picture of a young woman who appeared to be in her late teens/early twenties. The image was blurry and appeared to have been taken covertly. "Sean Jackson" requested assistance for the director of security in determining the young woman's name and identity. As he claimed to be an "investigator" in the original e-mail, the director contacted our organization to attempt to confirm the licensing status of "Sean Jackson."
With the cooperation and resources of the Nebraska Secretary of State's Licensing Division in Lincoln, it was solidly determined that this individual "Sean Jackson" does NOT hold a current license as either a Plain Clothes Investigator or Private Detective. No references were immediately available showing anyone with this name affiliated with any licensed Private Detective Agency in the State of Nebraska.
This raises the larger issue of identity verification when interacting with licensed versus non-licensed individuals. The public should be aware that licensed investigators are overseen by the state and must pass thorough background checks, have thousands of hours of relevant experience, and pass written proficiency tests before being issued their licenses. Understanding the need for verifiable credentials, investigators and detectives are then issued hard plastic identification cards by the licensing division and this identification should be produced for your review upon demand. The cards show a studio photograph of the investigator, their legal name, license number, identification card issuance and expiration dates, and Private Detective Agency affiliation (if relevant). On the back of the card is a mailing address and a telephone number (402.471.2385) where an individual's licensing status can be verified during regular business hours.
If you have a doubt regarding the validity of someone claiming to be a private investigator of some type, do not be afraid to ask for identification. A legitimate investigator is accustomed to being challenged on occasion for credentials and they should not offended to offer you verifiable proof of identity and professional status. If identification is not produced, or if you have doubts that the identification is real, you can call the number listed above or local law enforcement.
Individuals holding themselves out to the public as being licensed investigators if they are not are guilty of a Class II Misdemeanor under Nebraska revised statue number 71-2302. These individuals need to be reported to law enforcement and interviewed to determine their true status and intent.
Remember that anyone can "investigate" a matter, because the word itself means to try to find out facts or information about a matter, and people do this every day in their own lives. But when one goes so far as to claim to be an "investigator" as a title, there are legal considerations and consequences. Do not be afraid to ask questions before sharing information.
Above all, be safe.
- Brett Brodersen, PI, PCI, PIE
President, Nebraska Association of Licensed Private Investigators