The Final Chapter
A while back when I was teaching a college course on private investigations, I noticed that there wasn’t a text out there that assisted a want to be investigator how to become a PI in the State of Ohio. It was also the number one question I was asked while serving 9 years as the Executive Director of Ohio’s private investigator's association, OASIS; “How do I become a PI in Ohio?”
I thought that I had addressed that issue when I threw together all my notes into a small text and manual entitled, you guessed it, “How to Become a PI in Ohio & Other States.” It appears now that I completely left out a chapter for those from out of state who wish to conduct private investigations in Ohio.
First to steal from Jeff Foxworthy: “You know you’re from Ohio when you know what direction you’re going when you say up by the lake (Erie) or down by the river (Ohio River).” We also get a little mixed up with directions when dealing with Ohio cities; example: Sandusky is up by the lake, but Upper Sandusky is closer to the river. So rule number one, we here in Ohio need explicit directions when assigned a task.
Secondly, there are a multitude of date base companies that advertise national criminal backgrounds; well here in Ohio we know that can’t be true because in Ohio you can’t even get a statewide criminal background check. Ohio’s statewide criminal history data base, The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification, is a fingerprint based system that is not opened to public access. Also Ohio is a home rule state with 88 different and separate clerks of courts for what we here call The Court of Common Pleas, felony court. This court also handles, with separate clerks, divorce matters. So you have 88 separate and different jurisdictions to deal with in locating a felony record; heaven forbid you’re looking for a misdemeanor arrest because you’re now adding a thousand or more separate and independent entities with no standard data program; that is if they even have computerized records.
Thirdly, it always interesting in dealing with attorneys, insurance companies and private investigators from major metropolitan areas; Ohio has three main cities, all beginning with the letter “C” after that it’s all farmland and want-to- be cities and townships which take us back to number two. Home rule in Ohio has allowed for a group of 3,500 people or more to form a political entity with its own police department and corresponding court system; each with its own set of rules; also it only takes 582 hours of training for one to become a police officer in Ohio, so reading and writing in English is not always a requirement; which you’ll quickly learn when reviewing some police reports. Also because of home rule Ohio has no police entity with statewide law enforcement jurisdiction; we have the Ohio Highway Patrol which does and outstanding job investigating vehicle accidents and handing out speeding tickets so if your investigative needs are limited to those two items you are in luck.
Along those same lines there are 88 separate coroners’ offices with only the big 3C having certified forensic pathologist. So once a determination of the cause of death has been determined try getting it reversed, but that’s another day and another story.
Fourthly and related to number three, if your needs are for an insurance or worker’s compensation investigation in either eastern or southern Ohio, or down along the river, as we here in Ohio say, you need to be advised that the leading industry in those locations is marijuana cultivation, to be followed by the sale of prescriptions drugs and bringing suit against the coal and/ or power companies. Therefore if you expect private investigators to crawl around in a corn or soybean field in order to get the money shot you’ll need to pay a little extra as there are more mines and booby-traps in those fields than in all of Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Fifthly, once you get south of Interstate 70, which divides the state in half, you are in Appalachia, north of that is the snow belt so don’t expect expedited service in either place. Road construction season last from the end of winter to the beginning of winter, or what we here in Ohio refer to as Orange Barrel season, so the mileage an investigator turns in is always going to be more than what you expected.
Sixthly, the demographics of Ohio's three “C “cities is under constant change. There used to be a lot of comments made about having to press one for English and two for Spanish; well at my bank here in Ohio’s capital city there is now a third choice, Somali. This is because we currently have the second largest population, next to Minneapolis, of Somali immigrants in the United States. This in turn goes with Ohio’s ever increasing Hispanic population, so therefore make sure the investigator you hire is fluent in their respected area’s languages as you can go into several stores in this area and never hear a word of English spoken.
Last but not least like the majority of other states, The State of Ohio's enforcement of non-licensed private investigators is dismal at best so there are countless unlicensed non-professionals ready to do anything on the cheap. If that’s what you are looking for then welcome to it but if you’re looking for a professional investigator who can deal with the above six problems then you need to look where Ohio’s professional investigators are listed: professional organizations such as The National Association of Legal Investigators, Intellenet, PI Now.com or check with Ohio’s licensing entity; The Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security at: https://www.dps.state.oh.us/ALRS/ProviderSearch.aspx. As always you get what you pay for and in Ohio you may have to pay a wee bit more because of all the above; cause it may not be rocket science but it isn’t something just anyone can do, especially in the Great State of Ohio. You know the one that’s round on the ends and high in the middle.