We conducted an internal investigation on the Police Chief of Hiram, GA at the request of the City Council. After interviewing all of the officers and numerous former officers we determined there was some definite problems within the police department. Before we could make our presentation to the City Council, the chief resigned. Follow this link for a news article on Channel 2, WSB
By: Brad Schrade
The Watchdog Blog
February 7, 2018 2:30 AM
Problems have grown so dire in the Hiram Police Department that City Council took the unusual step of hiring a private investigator to look into the Chief Todd Vande Zande’s actions.Now, with the inquiry nearing its end, the chief doesn’t want the details of the investigator’s findings aired in public. He hastendered his resignation hoping to “eliminate the council’s need to discuss in any detail the findings of that investigation,”according to a report by Channel 2 Action News.Some officers say the department in the small city 27 miles northwest of Atlanta has been in turmoil since Vande Zande took over in 2013. More than half of the cops in the small 21-officer agency have left during his tenure. The council last week discussed the private investigator’s findings in a closed-door executive session.
We recently were contacted by a wife who suspected her husband was having an affair. She was scheduled to go out of state for a week associated with her job and wanted us to watch him. On a Sunday evening he drove her to the airport and as soon as he dropped her off, he went straight to an apartment complex in Roswell, GA. We went there and located his car, but due to the large size of the apartment compex, we could not determine which apartment he was visiting. He was there for several hours and then went back to his home in Buford, GA. The next eveing we were waiting for him at the apartment complex. Whe he got off work he came directly to the complex. He pulled into a parking space in front of one of the buildings and remained seated in his car. Another car followed him and parked nearby. A young girl in her early 20's exited the car and walked over to him and began talking with him. She then went upstairs to her apartment and returned about five minutes later. She got in the husband's car and they left. We followed them to the clients house in Buford, where they spent the night. Needless to say, when I updated the client she was pissed. Not only was she upset we had confirmed the affair, but that he had the nerve to take the girlfriend to her home. We continued surveillance on the home to get the "money shot" of them exiting the house. The remained there until 6 PM then ext day. However we did get the video of them coming out of the house together. It appeared the girlfriend was pregnant. The husband was in his late 40's and the girl in her early 20's.
When the wife returned from out of town, she confronted him about the affair. He admitted the affair and the girl was pregnant, but the baby was not his. I think the percentages of that being his baby were pretty high, Dont you?
Jim Baker has recently moved to the Canton, Cherokee County, Georgia area. We now have an experienced investigator located in the northwest part of Georgia for all of your investigative needs. We are still operating out of the Gwinnett County and Gainesville area.
Surveillance is the monitoring of behavior and / or activities; i.e., closely watching over someone or something. Types of surveillance include, but are not limited to, audio surveillance, video surveillance, and mobile surveillance. The types of surveillances we are routinely requested to do are video and mobile surveillance. They usually go together. In Georgia, audio surveillance is illegal unless there is one-party consent to the conversation.
The perception of conducting mobile surveillance is that it’s easy to do. Anyone can follow someone else. On television, it’s depicted as being easy. I’m sure you’ve seen on television a vehicle at night, parked on a deserted street, and the occupant – most likely a police officer or private investigator is watching someone. The target walks out, gets into their vehicle, and drives off. Then, the police officer or private investigator turns on their headlights, pulls out, and follows the target without being detected. Yea; right. It doesn’t happen that way. The reality is surveillance isn’t easy. It takes practice; it takes experience; and there are techniques a good private investigator will use to keep from being detected and not lose the target.
If you’re a prospective client in a domestic investigation, it is much easier for us to conduct surveillance if you haven’t recently accused your spouse or significant other of being unfaithful. They will be relaxed; they most likely will not pay attention to anyone around them; and they will go about their normal activities. If you have recently accused them of being unfaithful, they will be careful and most likely be looking for someone following them.
If you’re a prospective client in a child custody investigation, it is much easier for us to conduct surveillance if you haven’t accused your spouse (or ex) or significant other of doing something to the child or children or accused them of not being a good parent or caregiver. The same as above applies to their behavior.
If you’re a prospective client in a workers’ compensation investigation, it is best to hire a private investigator long before litigation. The claimant is usually not concerned with anyone checking on their activities.
In a previous blog, we provided an update on how to choose the right private investigation company and we provided information related to retainers. In this blog we will talk about what you as the client can do to help your investigator/investigation. In future blogs we will talk about (a) surveillance – reality vs. perception, pros and cons; (b) GPS units; and (c) cell phone forensics – what you can and can’t do.
The majority of our calls are from a spouse or significant other who suspects their spouse/partner is cheating. When you suspect your spouse/partner is cheating; is it a gut feeling or have you seen one or more of the following “red flags”? Your spouse/partner changes their behavior, such as dressing differently, spending more time than usual at the gym, working late more than usual, or unexplained absences from home. Your spouse/partner recently password protected their cell phone and they refused to give you the password; they receive unexplained telephone calls and/or texts; they delete their call history and/or texts frequently. The list goes on …
What you as the client can do to help your investigator/investigation.
The first thing you need to consider is – what do you want? Do you just need peace of mind that you’re not imagining things? Do you want to catch them and then confront? Do you want a divorce? Many times when a client calls us, they have already confronted their spouse/partner. It probably went like this: you confronted them, they denied the allegation, their behavior changed briefly for the better, and then something happened to arouse your suspicions again. Unless there is true repentance, people will go back to their old behavior. We are not counselors; we are professional private investigators. Our experience has shown normally you have one opportunity to get the evidence you need. Once you get the evidence, then you can decide how you want to use it. It’s not a bad idea to get your “ducks in a row” first – just in case.
Develop a plan. Once you’ve considered what you want to do, you and your investigator need to develop a plan. Will your investigation involve a background check? Will your investigation involve surveillance and/or the use of a GPS unit? Will your investigation take one or two investigators? Will your investigation require night/weekend surveillance? How long will your investigation take? And, plan for the unexpected.
We recently had a client in the Alpharetta, GA area contact us regarding his suspicions of his house keeper was stealing checks from him and then forging his signature and cashing the checks. We provided him a covert camera to place in the kitchen area of his home and within a couple of days we caught her. You can see in the video that she removes a check from the check book and puts it in her pocket. Further investigation indicated she had been doing this for a while and had stolen over a $1,0000 from him. We confronted her with the video and of course she had no choice to admit to the theft.
The past several months have been very busy for us. We completed an internal investigation on a police chief and uncovered possible criminal activity. We referred the case to the District Attorney's Office for possible prosecution. Then we conducted the background investigations on applicants for Chief of Police Chief in Peachtree City, GA. After an extensive investigation on the applicants, the city recently hired Janet Moon as the new Chief. This summer we were requested to serve a subpoena to a former Atlanta Braves player who was avoiding service. After a week of searching, we located him up near Cartersville, GA while he was coaching a baseball team. He was served and he was not a happy camper. On the domestic side we are currently at 20 cheating spouses for the year. Two of those were doctors who thought they were pretty smart and couldn't get caught. One of the doctors I had already caught last year and he swore to his wife that the affair was over and he would not cheat again. Guess what, caught him again with the same woman. Then another doctor had been confronted by his wife in the early summer and he admitted to an affair, but again said he had ended it back in June and was behaving himself. The wife asked us to analyze his cell phone. I picked up the phone and he gave permission for us to examine it. I knew something was up because he was acting too calm. He reset his phone and there was nothing to retrieve. However the examination revealed that he had signed into a wireless network at the Hyatt Regency in Buckhead on August 5 of this year. When he was confronted with that, he again admitted he had continued the affair with his girlfriend. Another interesting case was involving a cheating husband. I was conducting surveillance on him near Northlake Mall and caught him with his girlfriend out shopping. The big surprise here was the girlfriend appeared to be about 6 months pregnant. People never suprise me anymore.