How's Work?: Pittsburgh P.I.

Investigator Frederick Woodard's daily agenda changes based on the case -- meaning he may not drive around following people the way you see it on TV.




Photo by Martha Rial
 

 

FREDERICK WOODARD
Woodard Private Investigations, LLC
Job: Private Investigator

 

What’s a typical day for you?
My day-to-day activities are dictated by the case . . . It may be for an insurance company [that] does workman’s comp claims or an attorney involved in an injury case. I could be attempting to locate a witness who may have information in a civil matter or interview several witnesses and prepare reports based on those interviews. I could be doing background checks for clients . . . I also offer close personal [bodyguard] services for clients such as executives, dignitaries and celebrities.

Whom are you paid to follow?
It could be a divorce case or a child custody case. Or [one] parent has a feeling the other parent isn’t taking proper care of the child and needs to be reassured or to obtain evidence to use in court eventually. In infidelity, the spouse also wants enough evidence to reassure [himself or herself] — or to take to court.

Are you usually following people in an inconspicuous vehicle with a long lens?
That’s the image I get. Yeah, it depends on the situation. There is vehicle surveillance [among other tasks] . . . And I have done that in my law-enforcement career. I spent 15 years in [Pittsburgh Police] narcotics, and most of that was done doing large-scale investigations with the FBI and DEA and others . . . You could use covert cameras as well — follow them into a bar and take video that way. The bottom line is you are hired to obtain as much evidence as you can. It doesn’t always work out. A good investigator would never make promises as to an outcome. There was a time when I followed a guy around all day, 12 hours, and he never did a thing.
Private investigators often are featured in TV and movies.

Are there any media misconceptions you can clear up for us?
The P.I.s [you see on TV are] rough and tumble. I think a lot of [that idea] comes from the time before P.I.s were licensed. [Today,] most states require the investigator be insured and bonded and have a certain amount of training or experience. In Pennsylvania, [a private] investigator has to have three years as an investigator and have a hearing before a court.

And how does one get these three years’ experience?
Must they be done in law enforcement? They can be, or you could work for three years under a licensed private investigator.
 
Have you ever been discovered or noticed?

Not [yet] as a private detective. In law enforcement, I have had the surveillance get “burned.” That’s what it’s called when your surveillance gets noticed. That’s never happened to me as a private detective. 


Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Bucket List: 25 Don't-Miss Experiences for the Yinzer in All of Us

Bucket List: 25 Don't-Miss Experiences for the Yinzer in All of Us

You'll have to work hard to make it through the 'Burgh Bucket List — but every entry is more than worth the effort.
Finally Home: How Pittsburgh Won Over Troy Polamalu

Finally Home: How Pittsburgh Won Over Troy Polamalu

Troy Polamalu came to Pittsburgh craving the California sun. Nearly a dozen years later, he shares a rare glimpse of the relationships he developed here — with his God, the Steelers Nation and the city he and his family now call home. One thing is certain: he never wants to leave.
Granting the Perfect Wish

Granting the Perfect Wish

By fulfilling the wish of a 12-year-old boy, PittGirl learns that you don't always need a lot of money to grant the perfect wish.
Men's Winter Fashion: Season for Swagger

Men's Winter Fashion: Season for Swagger

Try an updated take on traditional trends with these winter must-haves for men.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Two Cameras to Keep an Eye on Pittsburgh’s Bald Eagles

Two Cameras to Keep an Eye on Pittsburgh’s Bald Eagles

A Murrysville security company plans to install the new cameras, which should provide high-definition of the Hays eagles.
Pittsburgh Offers Free Holiday Parking

Pittsburgh Offers Free Holiday Parking

The city hopes that offering free parking to shoppers on some of the busiest commercial days of the year will give small businesses a lift.
Photo Gallery: Andy Warhol Bridge Yarn Bombing Wins Public Art Award

Photo Gallery: Andy Warhol Bridge Yarn Bombing Wins Public Art Award

The bridge was covered in more than 3,000 feet of colorful, hand-knit blankets in honor of the late pop artist’s 85th birthday.
Pittsburgh-Area Native Advances to Next Round on ‘The Voice’

Pittsburgh-Area Native Advances to Next Round on ‘The Voice’

Chris Jamison, 20, of Ross Township, is a 2012 graduate of North Hills High School.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Bucket List: 25 Don't-Miss Experiences for the Yinzer in All of Us

Bucket List: 25 Don't-Miss Experiences for the Yinzer in All of Us

You'll have to work hard to make it through the 'Burgh Bucket List — but every entry is more than worth the effort.
Finally Home: How Pittsburgh Won Over Troy Polamalu

Finally Home: How Pittsburgh Won Over Troy Polamalu

Troy Polamalu came to Pittsburgh craving the California sun. Nearly a dozen years later, he shares a rare glimpse of the relationships he developed here — with his God, the Steelers Nation and the city he and his family now call home. One thing is certain: he never wants to leave.
Granting the Perfect Wish

Granting the Perfect Wish

By fulfilling the wish of a 12-year-old boy, PittGirl learns that you don't always need a lot of money to grant the perfect wish.
Men's Winter Fashion: Season for Swagger

Men's Winter Fashion: Season for Swagger

Try an updated take on traditional trends with these winter must-haves for men.
Review: Eighty Acres Kitchen & Bar

Review: Eighty Acres Kitchen & Bar

Farm-to-table restaurant Eighty Acres brings food prepared with finesse to Plum.
Pittsburgh's Top 10: November 2014

Pittsburgh's Top 10: November 2014

Here are the 10 best things to do in Pittsburgh this month.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags