Uncover the Secret to a Comprehensive and Dynamic Investigation

Maybe you know your employee is stealing from you but you don’t have the personnel in place to resolve it properly. Or maybe your company is expanding quickly, you need to add several executives to your team, and you can’t afford to hire the wrong person. Or what if an employee has been threatened by a former spouse and you want to protect your people and organization from a possible workplace violence incident. You need to investigate but how do you begin?

Let’s face it—practically any private detective or security consultant can conduct an investigation. What separates a rudimentary and traditional investigation from an innovative and cutting edge methodology is understanding and implementing all the resources and tools available in the security and investigations industry. And by combining a consultant’s experience, background, qualifications, and institutional knowledge with that methodology, you’ll uncover the secret to a comprehensive and dynamic investigation— that will keep you safe, secure, and compliant.

Power in Numbers

An investigation done correctly and thoroughly is a collaboration between different skill sets and disciplines that results in the implementation of the very best fact-finding processes, possibly ending in prosecution, but always restoring peace of mind. When law enforcement and security professionals leverage their combined talents and respective expertise, they acquire information that most private investigations cannot locate. A highly skilled investigator can get results that others can’t through knowledge, experience, and contacts that are not accessible through online searches. And those particular skills and access benefit you and your organization to keep your company, people, assets, and reputation safe.

You might need assistance with investigations such as:

  • Asset search and recovery
  • Background investigation
  • Background research
  • Court testimony
  • Due diligence investigation
  • Expert witness report
  • Financial investigation
  • Fraud investigation
  • Internal investigation
  • Legal deposition
  • Legal support
  • Threat assessment

By outlining the scope and specific objectives of the investigation, you’ll help tailor the engagement to fit your particular circumstances, culture, and business.

Pathway to Violence

When I was an agent in the Secret Service, we developed a three-step process for threat investigations, especially threats against the President, which The Lake Forest Group still uses today.

  1. We identify the threat by determining the person responsible and reason behind his or her actions.
  2. We assess the circumstances. What caused this situation? Does the subject have the means and the motivation for violence? Does the subject have a history of violence or access to weapons? Is he or she dealing with a financial or personal loss, marital issues, drug dependency, alcoholism, or some other issue?
  3. Working with you and mental health professionals, we collectively determine the most effective way to manage the person, which might include incarceration, institutionalization, counseling, or monitoring.

Most importantly, the person is continuously managed so that over time he or she can be rehabilitated and no longer present a threat.

Discretion Is the Better Part of Valor 

If your organization conducts business overseas, investigations of foreign entities may require knowledge of local laws, languages, or customs, which can be particularly helpful to a corporate compliance department and general counsel for an investigation related to a merger or acquisition. In many countries and situations, information is not available and accessible online or through a computerized database so your private investigator’s contacts in foreign countries can assist your investigation by retrieving information through an on-site visit to a courthouse or records building.

We’ll Help You Get It Done Right

We can design an investigation strategy that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your most valuable assets—your people. Our experiences in the private sector provide you with an independent voice, benchmark best practices in investigations, and share the necessary insight and hands-on advice to ensure a successful investigation—that lead to the proper course of action and tangible results. Our global network of law enforcement and security professionals further supports you by allowing us to conduct investigations both here in the United States and internationally and utilizing expertise and resources that are not available to most private sector organizations.


Your Background Investigations Need to Do More Than Check and Screen

After conducting numerous engagements in both the private and public sectors, I repeatedly find that the top concern of my clients is protecting the personal safety of their people and the integrity and legacy of their brand. And as one way to safeguard your company, assets, reputation, and, most importantly, your people, a dynamic background investigation strategy in the hiring process offers a holistic security vision designed to protect against unnecessary vulnerabilities and built upon industry best practices.

When you make the decision to bring someone into the workplace, you need to know that you’ve taken advantage of the necessary resources and appropriate subject matter expertise to fully investigate that individual’s background—so that the people who work for you are the right people to represent you and your organization. You can mitigate exposure of your employees and visitors to potential workplace violence by exercising diligence through a thorough examination into someone’s professional and personal history.

Background Investigation Strategy

As the foundation for your strategy, you want to maximize the most comprehensive and effective combination of background, due diligence, and investigative disciplines available that go beyond cursory background checks. We base our recommended background investigation methodology on best practices, previous experiences, and ongoing research to stay up-to-date on emerging trends and innovative measures in the industry—so we can help you ensure that your background investigation strategy complements the overall security strategy you have in place to protect your people, property, and investment.

Building a Solid Framework

Because background investigations require systematic processes that can effectively and efficiently screen candidates for management and/or sensitive positions, companies must focus on the processes needed to coordinate these activities. You’ll want to tailor your background investigation program to best meet your security, safety, and risk mitigation needs and, at the same time, fit your culture.

This begins by building a framework that engages three crucial steps to collectively establish a background investigation strategy:

  • Defining the scope and nature of the elements to be investigated, which will include the verification and investigative due diligence processes applicable to standard and enhanced background screening categories.
  • Establishing a decision-making matrix that can be applied across your organization in a consistent manner.
  • Relying on a collaborative effort to identify and define the final components of your program. In other words, you need to determine what categories will be investigated such as criminal, civil, work history, education, references, Internet, social media, and drug testing.

Leave No Stone Unturned

An enhanced background investigation can be performed on executive level employees or applicants and employees being considered for hire or promotion in certain positions involving (1) access to confidential, sensitive, or proprietary information, such as financial, tax, or personnel information; (2) cash management, accounting, or inventory control functions; or (3) a high degree of trust and confidentiality. You can also consider other investigative tools such as personal interviews with the applicant’s professional and personal acquaintances, private investigations, drug and health testing, and psychological assessments.

A comprehensive background investigation includes a spectrum of criminal, civil, and due diligence inquiries. In addition to the areas covered in a standard background screening, an enhanced background screening includes, but is not limited to:

  • Asset Search, Bankruptcy
  • Liens and Judgments
  • Employment Credit Report
  • Federal National Civil Search
  • Media Search
  • Military Service Verification
  • Professional References
  • Social Media Query
  • Internet Open Source Material

Not a “One Size Fits All” Proposition

Every organization presents its own unique environment, along with specific needs and concerns. A background investigation for a financial services client will be different than a higher education institution. Because there is no standardized template for a tailored background investigation, you will need to adjust the scope of these services based on factors such as your geographic location, workplace violence incidents, labor unrest, and company expansion. For a background investigation to be comprehensive, it needs to understand both the needs of the client and the organization’s culture.

We can design a background investigation strategy that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your most valuable assets—people. Our experiences in the private sector offer an independent voice, benchmark best practices in background investigations, and share the necessary insight and hands-on advice that lead to tangible results to ensure a comprehensive background investigation course of action.


What Is the Best Way to Stop an Active Shooter?

Unfortunately, our country continues to be plagued by tragedies caused by individuals with unregulated access to firearms. What compounds this serious issue is the deadly consequences created by a society that allows people without the legal authority or proper mental capacity to possess weapons. There is no silver bullet or panacea to stem the tide of these horrific events that are occurring all too often, but we can take steps to create a safer environment.

An all-inclusive approach that cuts to the heart of this problem and attacks the genesis of these events is required, rather than responding to the aftermath of the event itself. Instead of focusing most of our attention, energy, and efforts on what can be done to stop an active shooter during one of these attacks, let’s step back and try to determine what caused the incident in the first place.

It All Begins at the Beginning

Your goal should be to identify individuals before they have the means, mindset, and motive to carry out their violence. These events are not spontaneous—people don’t just “snap” and set out on a killing spree. Instead they are premeditated, planned, and if you look closely enough, announced. Having your organization supported by policy is the foundation to an Active Shooter Plan. You need to have the capability to identify, assess, and control anyone exhibiting traits that can be categorized as pre-attack indicators, which without intervention could manifest into violence.

Horizontally, Vertically, and Across an Organization

“Power in numbers” is another remedial action that results in a multi-disciplinary approach with select people up, down, and parallel in your organization, designated to prevent active shooter incidents. Individuals with diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and experience will come together and work collaboratively to design a plan to mitigate this threat. After forming a committee of representatives from entities such as management, law enforcement security, medical, mental health, fire, legal, HR, and training, this group will be charged with the mission to collectively develop a strategy and processes for preventing, controlling, and resolving an active shooter scenario.

Addressing Workplace Violence Protects Against an Active Shooter

Because an active shooter event is the most serious form of workplace violence, you must focus on mitigation and creating the processes that prevent any behavior deemed irregular or inappropriate from occurring. To be adequately prepared, you need to direct your attention to security, personnel, policies, procedures, systems, and physical measures. Examples are private guards (security), clinical health professionals (personnel), code of conduct (policies), employee assistance program (procedures), blast text messaging (systems), and lock-operated access points (physical measures). All of these disciplines contribute to the framework of the plan.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Because each situation is unique, knowing the signs to look for using professional judgment or outside assistance may be necessary to determine if intervention is necessary. Some of these signs are: disruptive behavior; physical injuries; absenteeism or tardiness; poor job performance; stalking a co-worker; inappropriate comments; threatening emails; and harassing phone calls. All of these signs could be an indication of a much more serious problem that may require identifying, assessing, and managing a potential violent situation.

Out With the Old and In With the New

The antiquated way to deal with a problem was to remove it. History has taught us that eliminating the source does not resolve the issue. It used to be that workplace managers fired, police officers arrested, and school principals expelled. None of these actions puts an end to the threat; they just delay it. Eventually, people get out of jail or return to the workplace or school to bring closure for themselves. Your best remedy is to have mechanisms that not only prevent, but also treat.

All of these recommended measures that I’ve presented have to be created, implemented, and when necessary, applied. Until then, a truly holistic program is not in place to protect your most valuable assets—your people—against the threat of an active shooter.


Escape From New York: When Life Imitates Art

Over three weeks ago, two convicted killers staged a movie-like escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York. The escape and the series of events that followed initiated a massive law enforcement response to track down these fugitive prisoners. Ultimately, good triumphed over evil and both men were caught, but unfortunately one lost his life in his efforts to elude the authorities. Recently our culture has made it fashionable to criticize law enforcement for a variety of perceived indiscretions. Candidly, some of this criticism is warranted, but what most people fail to realize is that a law enforcement officer is the first person they would turn to in a life or death situation. Much of what these professionals bring to each situation is the skill and experience to lead a complicated investigation that in this case ended with two extremely dangerous criminals taken off the streets and no longer posing a threat to society.

If I Wanted Your Opinion, I Would Ask For It

Initially, the only “capturing” in this case had been done by the national media spotlight. As this entire drama played out, every talking head on every news talk radio and television medium did not hesitate to offer up his or her unsolicited and unfounded opinion. Interestingly, the (uneducated) media and the (unknowing) public characterized this incident as a manhunt; however, to the trained law enforcement and security professional, this is more accurately described as a multi-jurisdictional criminal investigation. Yes, a manhunt or search was involved, and this process garnered most of the attention. But behind the scenes, the men and women overseeing and steering the investigation did the real yeoman’s work. These unheralded professionals constructed the investigative strategy to tighten the noose and turn up the heat as the search area shrunk. Now that this investigation is over, a new investigation begins—to determine how they escaped and, more importantly, who helped them escape. Two prison employees are already in custody, and more may follow.

If I Could Turn Back Time

Working backwards, one of the latest pieces of evidence uncovered in the case were the discovery of a fugitive’s fingerprints along with prison-issued garments inside a burglarized cabin. This event helped pinpoint and downsize the scope and scale of the investigation. Prior to this development, sightings as far as 400 miles away near the Pennsylvania border were reported. Another major break in the case was the arrest of two possible accomplices who worked at the correctional facility. One person is a guard at the prison accused of smuggling in tools. Allegedly the other individual had sexual relationships with both fugitives and planned to provide the getaway car only to change her mind at the last minute. All of this pertinent information set the stage for what had become an exhaustive large-scale investigation.

Separating Fact from Fiction  

The police followed up on more than 2,000 leads, and as more clues continued to surface, they obviously confirmed some of these tips in order to separate fact from fiction. Every investigation features multiple facets that will hopefully and eventually lead to an arrest. An investigator’s role is multi-purpose: a case needs to be built; responsible parties identified, whether directly or indirectly involved; proof (e.g., evidence) compiled; and credibility (e.g., fact) separated from speculation (e.g., fiction). A critical piece of evidence such as fingerprints (e.g., DNA) or forensic evidence is considered extremely reliable in an investigation because it is difficult to question. Other evidence such as an eyewitness account is categorized as testimony (e.g., oral or written statements), which is admissible in a judicial or administrative proceeding, but subject to the scrutiny of a defense attorney.

The Devil Is in the Details

In order to catch these men, investigators did more than saturate an area with searchers. They spent a painstaking amount of time sifting through information and crafting a strategy and tactical plan to allocate and implement the resources required to apprehend these criminals. “Leaving no stone unturned” is the best cliché I can think of when it comes to the investigative methodology used for this situation. According to a spokesperson, the authorities were looking “behind every tree, under every rock and inside every structure.” This investigation implemented numerous techniques such as reviewing hotel registries to identify alias names, interviewing anyone who may have had contact with the fugitives, going door to door to check on homes and seasonal residences, and conducting vehicle searches at police checkpoints.

Playing from the Same Sheet of Music   

These methods and findings are not happenstance or spontaneous. Instead they are all part of a holistic investigative approach synchronized between multiple private, state, local, and federal partners. The seamless integration between these different entities and jurisdictions is the hallmark of a complex criminal investigation coordinated and controlled by experienced and professional investigators. The sharing of information, scrubbing of intelligence, and designed actions are carefully vetted and approved by authorized decision makers entrusted with this responsibility by their respective organizations. This investigation was a collaboration between different skill sets and backgrounds that resulted in the implementation of the very best tactics and processes. The final outcome of these efforts was not whether these inmates would be caught, but when they would be caught.  After the smoke cleared and the dust settled, these investigators did their jobs, the investigation resulted in arrests, and peace of mind was restored to the area.

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