To properly assist your clients with a private investigation, you have to knock on a lot of doors, read a lot of records, and spend a lot of time on… Google?
Warwick DeSanta is a uniquely qualified private investigator, having started out as a police officer back in New Orleans. He’s worked on Murder Task Forces, Narcotics Divisions, and even been police chief of several small towns; including right here in Asphyxiation Point. After fifteen years with the police, he took an early retirement, but then decided to put his skills to use as a PI.
“[It] seemed a natural fit,” DeSanta explained to this reporter during our recent interview, his Southern accent still very apparent though it’s been years since he had left the Big Easy.
As a PI, his work on digging up information for his clients also takes him to the far reaches of the internet, like Twitter and LinkedIn, the sort of desk work that often gets left out when DeSanta's profession is depicted by the likes of popular series on Television or in Movies. But all in all, it's still a dirty job that involves everything from search engines to shoot outs, and plenty of dead bodies.
DeSanta told us how he got started in New Orleans, how his police work influenced his new role as a PI, and the tedious amount of research that can come with doing his job properly.
AP Times: How did you become a PI?
WD: “Well, I [was] a police offer for about fifteen years. Started out in New Orleans, then Louisiana State Murder Police. After that, [narcotics], then transferred to Washington State. Winded up as Chief of a small department out [in] the middle of no place, then came here. [Was] Chief of APPD for about two years. … Time came for early retirement and I took it. Guess I became a private eye because I got some very specific skills [with] being a police for so long. Seemed a natural fit.”
AP Times: So what kind of PI work do you do now?
WD: “So far it’s mostly been intelligence gathering. Folks employ me to find out things – whether it’s the identity of an attacker, or just keeping tabs on certain POI’s (Persons of Interest). But aside from the stuff that I’m paid to do, I still take an interest in some of the going-on’s around town. [I’m a] murder detective at heart, so [I’ll do anything that I can] to find out information, clues, or anything to assist in catching those folks that might prey on the weak and vulnerable on our little island. Also, local attorneys might get in touch, wanting me to double-check evidence in police reports or conduct my own investigation on behalf of their clients, to make sure that their case if fool proof.”
AP Times: How is being a PI different than what people might expect?
WD: “It’s a LOT of research; lots of Googling [and] spending time at the courthouse going over records. It isn’t quite as exciting or glamorous as the movies make out. But then again, neither is police work. A search engine is probably the best place to start, such as social media profiles, LinkedIn, Twitter, etcetera. You’d be amazed at how much information folks give out without realizing it. Once caught a guy [we were] looking at because he was tweeting pictures at all of the local attractions that he was looking at on his vacation.”
AP Times: What is the craziest thing that has happened on the job?
WD: “Well, back when I was a cop [here in AP], we picked up a body dumped onto a car downtown next to the Shop’n’Scrub. [It was] pretty gruesome all in all; head cut off, etcetera. Thing was, there were prints all over the body… We picked up two sets of prints and some DNA from spittle. Doc reckoned that the perpetrator had drooled over the body as they did it… A Couple of weeks later this girl, pissed or drugged up, starts this one woman protest against the PD right outside of the precinct. She smashed up one of the cruisers, so we pulled her in; just to get her to sober up more than anything. But when we took her prints, they came up with a match. If the girl [hadn’t] taken it upon herself to make a fool of herself right outside of the cop shop, we might never have picked her up on the murder charge. She was seriously messed up in the head, and I don’t think they ever caught the other one. [They] must have high-tailed it out of town. That’s the trouble with a tourist town like this one. Unfortunately, people come here; dump their [crap], and then take the first ferry back to the mainland.”
DeSanta Private Investigations is currently taking new clients. He can be reached at his office at 4-7th Street, Uptown, or at 555-1212 (jamesmaybrick)