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"Trials and Tribulations"
Jake Ross, P.I. Journey to Justice
By Jake Ross
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2016 Jake Ross
All rights reserved.
Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me and I'll understand.
— Chinese Proverb
It was a sweltering day in early September 1969. I was twenty-four years old. I had served two years in the United States Army, and after receiving an honorable discharge, I returned home and joined the DeLand Police Department. Six months after coming out of the police academy, I was involved in a gun battle with three bandits. I was a young rookie patrolman, checking a used-car lot at about two o'clock in the morning, and surprised the three burglars attempting to steal a vehicle off the used-car lot. When I exited my vehicle, shots were fired at me. I returned fire. I captured one of them, a nineteen-year-old man from Orlando. The other two fled and were later captured in another state. Thankfully, I was truly blessed. God was with me. Nobody was injured. And the three bandits were convicted in court and served time in prison.
I enjoyed my job as a police officer.
One year, I earned Officer of the Month six months in a row. That had never been done.
After three years as a young police officer, I was recruited by the Florida State Attorney's Office as an investigator and became the first African American in the state of Florida to be so fortunate.
During the early 1970s, racial tension was high, and I struggled to maintain a friendly, collegial relationship with my colleagues and fellow investigators. It wasn't easy listening to racist jokes relating to African Americans. My white fellow law enforcement officers and I would go out fighting crime together and get involved in discussions; unfortunately, in my mind these sessions just reinforced the racism that black people faced.
I remember, when I was a very young police officer in DeLand, Florida, freshly out of the military (US Army), fighting for my country, a fellow police officer (white) and I drove to a pool hall approximately twelve miles south of DeLand. The town was Debary, Florida. He and I had walked in to play a game of pool when the white female employee called him over and told him that he could play but "the colored man had to leave." He told her that we were police officers. She said it didn't matter. We left.
Can you believe I, who had recently received an honorable discharge from the US Army, where I fought for my country during the Vietnam era, and was now a police officer, fighting crime for everybody and having to fight racism, was treated like a second-class citizen? I realized then that integration and social equity for black people would not happen quickly in the United States, and I became increasingly disenchanted with how black people were being treated.
I worked many years with the state attorney's office, conducting all types of investigations, including murder, white-collar crimes, robbery, sex crimes, burglary, fraud, forgery, and juvenile felonies. When I was promoted to assistant chief investigator, my role changed, but not that much. I still worked cases and supervised fellow state attorney investigators. I had added-on responsibilities. I would review cases with each investigator, assign the cases to investigators, and sign off on them at the conclusion of their investigation reports.
Subsequently, I retired as assistant chief investigator and tested the private sector. I opened my own private investigative agency, called Jake Ross Detective Agency.
While working as a private investigator, I discovered my niche: criminal defense investigation. It is one of the most important assignments a private investigator can take. It's about freedom and justice.
I enjoy working civil cases, such as personal injuries, accident, missing persons, custody, business, and insurance fraud cases. They all are important cases, but most of them have to do with money.
Criminal cases, on the other hand, involve something much more important than money. They involve liberty. To us Americans, liberty, or freedom, is the single most-cherished right we have. Our system of justice demands that the government acting for the people prove that a person has committed a crime before that liberty is restrained or taken away.
Back in 2006, I wrote a book titled Jake Ross, Private Investigator, in which I used four cases to illustrate the way a private investigator works. I included details on the type of research that goes into a case, an explanation on how those details are tediously organized into a series of factual conclusions, the hard work involved, and the successful conclusion of a case. I attempted to give the reader the true aspects of the profession.
The book sold well, and I think it may have served a real purpose by establishing a different image of the real-life private investigator. That book was published more than six years ago, and I still get calls from people who have read or heard of the book.
Clearly, a lot of people want to know just what it is a private investigator does and how he does it. One thing I have learned over the years is that, at one time or another, everyone will have the need for the services of a professional private investigator. No one plans on getting a divorce or getting into a settlement dispute or custody battle, but it happens every day. People have accidents, their kids run away, they go into business with other people, they inherit estates, they lose property, and on and on. That doesn't mean that everyone goes out and hires a PI (business isn't that good), but a PI's help will make many specific situations a lot easier to handle.
These, of course, are only a few of the problems people bring to me each year. There are many more, including criminal matters.
I'm the last resort. By the time they get to me, they've been to the cleaners. They've been through all the friends of friends and the cousins and Uncle Fred, who knows this lawyer, and Charlie down the street, who has had the same thing happen to him, and finally, the corporation lawyer, who is supposed to know how to get things done, and then the brother always knows a guy who used to be a cop but had had some trouble back there that had to do with money or drugs. And when they finally find out even the godfathers are only in movies, they have absolutely nowhere else to go; when the gypsy fortune-tellers have rolled the rugs onto the roof of the Escalate and have disappeared over the St. John's River Bridge, then they come to me, and I get them.
Jake Ross is a private investigator, a real private investigator. He has been one for over forty years. He serves as a board-certified criminal defense investigator, homicide investigator, insurance fraud investigator, missing persons investigator, corporate investigator, consultant, and guide to clients enmeshed in the loophole madness of the judicial process. His primary job is to give his clients peace of mind, to ease them through a system that is characterized by indifference, corruption, and sloppy paperwork. He believes in education. He attended Daytona Beach Community College (now Daytona State) while he was working as a police officer, where he received his associate degree in law enforcement. He then attended the University of Central Florida and later transferred to Bethune-Cookman College (now Bethune-Cookman University), where he received his bachelor's degree in criminology/sociology, a double major. He graduated with honors, cum laude.
Prior to attending Bethune-Cookman College, I was enrolled at the University of Central Florida (UCF). I was asked to speak to a class at Bethune-Cookman, and afterward, the gentleman that was over the law enforcement program talked me into transferring to Bethune-Cookman College.
This is an institution with a lot of history. The founder, Mary McLeod Bethune, is a legend. I had read about the history. Her name was Mary Jane McLeod, and she was born on July 10, 1875, the fifteenth of seventeen children born to freed slaves in Mayesville, South Carolina.
Her parents were poor farmers in South Carolina. Mary Jane McLeod's plan was to become a missionary to Africa. After receiving a scholarship, she attended the Bible Institute for Home and Foreign Missions. She later decided to shift her attention to educating African Americans in this country, and she spent years teaching at various black schools in the South. She later learned about the deplorable conditions in which blacks were living while building the Florida East Coast Railway.
At the age of twenty-nine, already married to Albert Bethune with a baby boy, she decided to open a school for girls in Daytona Beach. She opened the school with $1.50, five little girls, and faith in God. The school was Daytona Normal and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. The doors opened in 1904, and the five girl students were aged from eight to ten years old. The girls' families were to pay fifty cents for tuition.
The school grew quickly, and throughout, they added more buildings on the land that once had been used as the town dump. In 1923, it merged with the Cookman Institute for Boys, then located in Jacksonville, Florida, and became Bethune-Cookman College. She served as college president until 1942. She died at her desk in the two-story white wooden home in 1955 and was put to rest in the backyard.
Later, I attended St. John's University and obtained a master's degree in criminal justice.
Jake Ross has taught in the master's program at St. John's University, and he has taught at Keiser University and at Bethune-Cookman University as an adjunct professor. Also, he taught at the Daytona Beach Police Academy. Mr. Ross also has his own school, called Investigators Training Academy. He teaches a forty-hour security officer course and certifies individuals for a Florida security guard license. He also conducts seminars for investigators.
I am, by nature, a very private person in a very private family, so you won't see a whole lot about my children in this book. I love them dearly, and it's impossible to tell my story without mentioning them. At the same time, a tension exists because my wife, Maxine, has worked very hard to make our kids' upbringing as normal as possible.
This book is not only about me either. It's about the priorities, choices, racism, experience, opportunities, heartaches, and habits that lead to being a strong person with true success. I hope that when it's all said and done, you'll see that it's really all about God.CHAPTER 2
A Private Investigator, or Private Detective
A private investigator and a private detective are one and the same. A private investigator conducts investigations from the very beginning and continues to follow up on leads, whereby a private detective is one that follows leads in cases that have already been developed. Both investigator and detective are individuals who publicly and/or privately sell investigative services to private clients, insurance companies, attorneys, corporations, and businesses.
The private investigative profession has an allure and mystique like no other. Unlike in conventional law enforcement agencies, in private investigation a private investigator enjoys many freedoms that a law enforcement officer does not.
For one, you are not assigned to a specific division or unit. You may, however, choose your particular specialty. You are not limited in the types of investigations that you may conduct, and there is not a cap on what your earning potential is.
Your workday can be as exciting or as mundane as the client or case that comes through your door. One day you may be conducting a field investigation on a criminal case. The next day you may be staked out in one-hundred-degree heat, conducting surveillance relating to an infidelity case. Two days later, you may be interviewing witnesses for a law firm. One week later, you can be searching for a missing person.
This is a career with unlimited potential, where every day brings new experiences and challenges.
There is a wide spectrum of different types of cases that an investigator may elect to offer. Whether you are just starting out in the business or you are already a seasoned investigator, you may want to offer several general and basic types of investigative services. As one advances in his career, the investigator may want to specialize in one or more areas yet still offer a wide variety of services. Be cautious putting all your eggs in one basket, because you may wake up one day and find yourself with no clients and no cases.
For example, many investigators in the early years had conducted a large number of worker's compensation claims, which resulted in a vast amount of surveillance work. When the insurance laws changed, a lot of the workers' compensation surveillance cases dwindled. When the insurance companies formed SlUs, or special investigative units, these units conducted in-house investigative work, which, prior to that, was contracted out to investigative firms. Investigators that did not know how to conduct other types of investigations or did not market properly or did not have clients that provided different types of case assignments soon fell along the wayside.
The personal satisfaction that you will receive when you solve a difficult case, reunite parents with their missing child, or bring closure to a brokenhearted family has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
There are definite skills and abilities that private investigators must possess. Some such skills and abilities come naturally, and some may need to be learned and developed. Among other things, a private investigator needs to be creative, innovative, patient, and resourceful and have a good sense of direction, with great instincts and intuitions.
Do I need a law enforcement background to be a private investigator?
It is estimated that 70 percent of private investigators currently in the industry have prior law enforcement experience; however, it is not required. A background in law enforcement is also good. I recommend that individuals without law enforcement background seeking a career in the private investigative industry, especially in criminal defense work, take college courses in police procedures, criminal procedure, evidence, interviewing and interrogation, and report writing.
Police detectives routinely conduct witness interviews and may conduct surveillance, just as many private investigators do. There are some differences between police work and private investigations, and some police officers may have difficulty making the transition. When I was chief investigator for the Public Defender's Office, it was quite a challenge training former police officers in criminal defense investigation and interviewing. The biggest difference between the two areas is that private investigators work for private individuals or businesses while police officers are employed by state and federal government for the purpose of enforcing criminal laws. It is hard to get some police officers out of that mind-set and to be objective.
Private investigators should be well-spoken, neat and conservative in dressing, honest, punctual, and courteous in mannerism.
For the private investigator to be totally effective in defense cases, it will be advantageous for him to have knowledge of police investigation procedures, including the pertinent Supreme Court restrictions on police conduct. The reason for that, of course, is to enable the investigator to recognize deviations from court rulings and normal procedures that are described in the context of witness interviews and other evidence that the investigator may uncover.
Investigators who have come from police ranks make excellent criminal defense investigators because they've been on the prosecution side. They know police methods.
I am no antipolice — that's where I started, and I have many friends yet still in law enforcement. However, I do know that most all officers conduct themselves in a proper and professional manner. We are definitely on separate sides of criminal defense cases, with different points of view, but each of us, in our own way, is trying to serve justice.
Excerpted from "Trials and Tribulations" by Jake Ross. Copyright © 2016 Jake Ross. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fantastic Book. It really touches the heart