As PICA’s President for 2015, I want to welcome all of our new and returning members. With the help of the newly elected PICA Board we are going to have an exciting year. We are working as a collective team to provide the membership with many new benefits, educational district meetings and will contribute to the legislative process that helps improve our industry.
We held our first PICA Board meeting in January and it was very productive; we approved the 2015 budget, the date of November 6 & 7, was selected for PICA’s 2015 Educational Conference, at the Holiday Inn Ontario Airport Hotel, free and paid educational webinars are being planned for the last Tuesday of the month, new benefits, such as a discounted PI Magazine for members, health insurance and industry discounts. We are also working to establish an Accredited Investigative Specialist program.
Lastly, I want to thank everyone that participated PICA’s 2014 Annual Educational Conference, whether as an attendee or a speaker, sponsor, or worker. I was proud to be a part of, what turned out to be a great event.
On December 9, 2014, we lost one of PICA’s original founding members, Steve Wachtel, of Brady Investigations. Steve has always been a strong contributor to PICA and has held numerous Board positions throughout the years including, four terms as the Los Angeles District Director, a continuous position as the Listserve Administrator and served two terms as PICA President.
Steve served as a member of the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services Advisory Committee, he helped create legislation that impacted the profession, wrote association bylaws and was an advisor and mentor to new Board members.
In addition to his 24 years of investigative work, Steve was an active member of the Southern California Association of Fraud Investigators, National Council of Investigation and Security Services, and also a member of the California Association of Licensed Investigators.
Steve was a loyal, honest, family man of integrity and brilliance. He loved to laugh and make others laugh with his funny jokes, dry sense of humor and quick wit. He was generous with his time, knowledge and resources, making himself available to his friends, family, associates and even strangers. His tireless desire to help people was evident in all that he did and the people whose lives he touched. He will be missed.
Steve is survived by his 14 year old daughter, Melody and his wife Rhonda, who will continue to operate Brady Investigations.
|Lisa De Benedittis|
|Lisa De Benedittis|
|Vincent Hicks, Jr.|
On November 7 and 8, 2014, PICA hosted an outstanding educational conference and Annual Business Meeting at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Ontario, California. There were so many new faces, last minute registrations, and walk-ins, Ann Marie, PICA’s Executive Director, had to order extra food! In total, there were 75 attendees, including current and new PICA members, bail agents, process servers, speakers PI students, and guests. The weekend was packed with hours of interesting educational talks, networking opportunities, and plenty of great food. We said thank you to the 2014 Board of Directors and welcomed the 2015 Board of Directors.
This conference could not have happened without generous contributions from BellesLink, PDJ Services, PI Direct Link, and the Bail Education Association.
Guest speaker, Jack Trimarco (jacktrimarco.com) talked about his experiences administering polygraph examinations in high profile cases, as seen on the Dr. Phil show. He discussed the legality of polygraph exams and stressed the significance of using measurable and observable characteristics (or “tells”) in order to determine when someone is being truthful. His reminder: “The truth is direct and spontaneous.”
Paul Kulas is the head belle ringer at BellesLink (belleslink.com), and provided a thorough overview of using telephone technology to conduct investigations, including the history that began with the first trap line and ended with advancements investigators and bail agents can utilize today. A useful summary of the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 was provided as it pertains to our industry, as well as the importance of remaining compliant for the sake of the entire industry. In summary: Spoofing is illegal, in that the spoofed number is not an active number for an investigator to be reached for a callback. However, tools exist to create a unique number that can be used for communications without linking it to existing business or personal listings.
Todd Taylor of Allstate Investigations, Inc. (allstatepi.com) discussed pre-employment background screenings. He covered the legal concerns regarding conducting these types of investigations, including the legal requirements and limitations for obtaining criminal histories, credit histories, and provided sample forms and verbiage. He also provided a list of sources for the most common searches used in pre-employment screenings.
Greg Kading of On Sight Investigative Services (onsightinvestigations.com) talked about his work solving the high profile murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. The case spanned several years, with twists, turns, and dead ends before going cold, which fueled the rumor mills and conspiracy theories, but the case was ultimately solved thanks to Greg and his partner’s diligence. His book, Murder Rap: The Untold Story of the Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations, was available for sale. All of the money was donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Friday concluded after Greg’s presentation with a great meal and the Annual Business Meeting. New members were welcomed with membership certificates, plaques of appreciation were given to the 2014 board members, and the new board of directors was sworn in for 2015. The first ever Member of the Year award was presented to Jennifer Faer, for her volunteer service throughout the year and role as the newsletter’s editor.
Saturday began with Business Tax Strategies, presented by Ron Reed, of Bradford and Company (bradfordandcompany.com). Attendees learned IRS-approved methods for writing off domestic and international business trips, including this conference, and covered five of the most overlooked deductions. The five most overlooked deductions are typically vehicles, home offices, medical expenses, hiring of children, and travel expenses.
Attorney David Queen (queenlaw.com) spoke about legal and technological developments as they apply to private investigators. Of note, new legislation now allows PIs to form Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). Areas of big change were discussed, including case law (or lack thereof) regarding social media, Big Data, drones, new devices, DNA, and facial recognition software. Discussion of the use of drones in investigations was a highlight, including sample aerial photography. Mr. Queen is also the author of The California Private Investigator’s Legal Manual, now in its third edition.
Doug Carner of Forensic Protection (forensicprotection.com) conducted a first-of-its-kind audio and video enhancement workshop. He covered the basics of audio and video recordings, the types of recordings that can be enhanced, and provided DVD’s with some of the software he uses in his own work. Attendees with computers could walk through a demonstration to enhance their own copy of a sample video in real time.
Registered Process Server Gretchen Litchtenberger of You’ve Been Served and Justice Matters (ayouvebeenserved.com) presented Advanced Process Serving techniques, and how to lawfully add process serving to an investigator’s business practice. Gretchen provided entertaining and educational examples from her own experiences as a professional process server, as well as sample letters and verbiage for aid in the service of legal process.
Of course, packed into these two days alongside all the educational opportunities were vendors, freebies and discounts for attendees, fantastic meals, snacks, and drinks, and so many friendly faces and opportunities to socialize and expand our professional networks. The venue was such a success, it has already been booked for next year’s conference, November 6-7, 2015. Hope to see you there!