Get a free glimpse at life as a Private Eye Feb. 16 at LIT
Crime investigation is nothing like television, said Brad Bacom, who will teach a class on private investigation at LIT. A former peace officer and private investigator, Bacom knows what it’s like to be a private investigator. With 27 years of experience under his belt, he knows what it takes to be a private eye. The first four-hour class, which is free to the public, is called: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” The class informs prospective students about what it’s like to be a private investigator, said Bacom, who was a peace officer for 25 years.
Bacom, a Bridge City resident, said his work doesn’t resemble that of “Magnum PI,” “Monk” or any other television crime investigators. He has taught the class at LIT for about a year.
Bacom does have some war stories, like the time he was searching an abandoned house and someone pulled a knife on him in Houston .
“He tried to stab me, and robbed me. He took the money and threw my wallet in the back yard,” he said.
At least, he said, his client paid for his shirt, which was torn during the scuffle. Overall, the worst injury he has suffered occurred when he fell in the shower, he said.
Unlike TV investigators, who might brandish a firearm during each investigation, Bacom said that isn’t the norm. During one Port Arthur case, he was approached by a group of shady characters. He flashed his gun. The group magically stopped approaching.
“There were some situations where I felt more secure, with a gun, going into certain neighborhoods,” Bacom said.
“Being a licensed PI doesn’t allow you to carry a gun,” Bacom explained. If someone wants to carry a handgun they must obtain a concealed handgun license, he said. In addition, he said, individuals who work as personal protection officers or body guards can carry a gun.
“Ninety-five percent of the people in this business come from another profession,” Bacom said. During a recent conference, out of 500 people only five of the private investigators attending called that their first profession, he said.
Private investigators come from all walks of life, he said. Some have worked law enforcement, retail, insurance sales and as legal secretaries. Even housewives get into the business. Bacom said he knows one investigator who owned several Dairy Queen stores and others who have come from industry or the military.
“You get paid by the job, and the hours are flexible,” Bacom said. In addition, private eyes can choose to specialize in certain areas including computer forensics. If someone is going through a divorce, he or she might hire a private eye to go into an estranged spouse’s home to determine what type of material the children are exposed to on the Web.
Some investigators prefer working criminal defense work, which might involve finding a witness for a case. All jobs have positives and negatives, Bacom said.
Clients, including insurance companies, may ask an investigator to do something as simple as visiting the widow of someone who died in a workman’s compensation case, he said. This is a way for the company to determine that the spouse is still alive and receiving the benefits due to them, Bacom said. If the remaining spouse dies or gets remarried the benefits stop, so an investigator is sent to make sure the situation hasn’t changed regarding the remaining spouse. In the next four months, he will work about 40 such cases in Louisiana , he said.
The first class will meet Feb. 16 for its first official day of class, with the second class meeting Feb. 23. The class will meet again March 1, 8, 15 and 29. The course is $600.
LIT also offers a process server course which allows someone to serve legal documents related to civil cases. That course is $150 and gives an individual the background to serve legal documents issued by the court. That would include a notice to appear in court and civil documents issued by a judge.
Overall, he said, his wife doesn’t like to watch television crime shows with him. She complains that Bacom ruins the show by telling who the culprit is before the officers make an arrest.
“Compared to “Magnum PI” I don’t drive a sports car, I drive an Exposition,” Bacom said. “I deal with private clients and get my money upfront.” During his career, he has only had two invoices that have gone unpaid.
Some cases do require research and leg work, specifically when it involves tracking down a witness, he said. “I do surveillance and criminal defense work.”
The course, as a whole, not only teaches students what they need to know to investigate, but also the business of being a private investigator.
“Checking civil records and investigating witnesses, these are things we teach in the class,” Bacom said.
The business of being a PI involves more than investigating people.
“We teach how to get a sales tax permit, get a license and how to write a report for a client,” he said.
Bacom has some clients he has never met that he has worked for since 1998.
“I have never met the client or talked to the client. I work with them two or three times a year,” he said. Bacom communicates with that client, based in London , via e-mail.
“The only image that client has of me is my written report, so we stress proper grammar in the class,” he said.
Bacom is a process server and is a member of the state association. He also is a member of the Texas Association of Licensed Investigators.
For more information about the class, call (409) 880-8293.