A Second Career as a Private Investigator: Background information when reading Down the River unto the Sea

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Down the River unto the Sea

by Walter Mosley

Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley X
Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2019, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
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About this Book

A Second Career as a Private Investigator

This article relates to Down the River unto the Sea

Print Review

Private InvestigatorIn Walter Mosley's crime novel, Down the River Unto the Sea, the protagonist, Joe King Oliver, is a former NYC police detective who starts his own private investigative agency as a follow up career. In real life this choice is not uncommon.

Due to the generally early retirement opportunities within most public law enforcement departments, many police officers can retire as much as twenty years younger than civilians in the private sector. At such a relatively young age many, if not most, will pick up a second career. Options are varied for people with law enforcement training and experience, including but not limited to work as security guards, insurance investigators, armed guards, paramilitary or private detectives either under the umbrella of a large agency or opening one's own agency.

PoliceThere is a lot to consider while looking at the options. Former police officers may want to think about what their strengths were. Did they enjoy one aspect of their job over another, such as surveillance or interviewing suspects or crime scene investigation? Did they like coming in contact with crime victims or prefer to pick up the hunt from clues otherwise obtained? Additionally, they may want to think long and hard about the fact that private detective work runs the gamut from criminal to civil to domestic investigation.

There are several benefits to going into private investigation as a former police detective, such as familiarity with local laws, friends and connections within local law enforcement, and an understanding of the legal process. Police also have knowledge of good detective techniques and investigation procedures, and access to resources non-professionals may not know about and firearms training/experience.

But there are also challenges. Chief among them is engaging clients. As a police officer, cases present themselves. No need to sell oneself or one's skills. Sometimes connections within public law enforcement agencies can offer referrals to the private investigator. But not always. Secondly, since private investigators don't receive a regular paycheck, just surviving between paying clients can be difficult. It is advisable to have a steady base income or else go to work for a large investigative agency that pays a salary.

In all, private investigation can be a fine second career choice for former or retired police detectives, but it comes with a caveat concerning the reality of obtaining enough paying clients to sustain life and limb.

Private Investigator image, courtesy of www.privateinvestigatorlicense.org

Article by Donna Chavez

This "beyond the book article" relates to Down the River unto the Sea. It originally ran in February 2018 and has been updated for the February 2019 paperback edition.

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