The APIA Informant

NCISS alerts and communication regarding removal of personal identifiers from view

In an effort to keep you informed about distant problems and negative impacts to our profession, I urge you to read the information provided by Kelly Riddle.  Please consider how this will impact you, should Alabama follow along with the rulings.  We are already seeing the impact from the expungement pleas being awarded.


Several states are moving towards the removal of dates of birth in their court records.  This presents problems on many levels.  Those of us who do pre-employment backgrounds face a burden due to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements.  According to the FCRA, a company doing pre-employment backgrounds (CRA) is required to validate the information on a person to the greatest extent possible.  Failure to do so can create legal liability and open the door for a lawsuit.  For those of us that use this in the scope of investigative work, we don’t have the FCRA hanging over our shoulder but presents obvious difficulties in confirming the record pertains to our subject in question.

In California, the 4th Appellate Court in the state of California made a ruling in All of Us or None – Riverside Chapter vs. W. Samuel Hamrick, which among other things instructed all Superior Courts in the state to remove the dates of birth (DOBs) from their online systems and public access terminals. The industry backlash was strong and approximately ten days later, a partial date of birth, both month and year, was repopulated on the public access terminals. Even so, in Los Angeles County, they announced on August 20th the court clerks would no longer be allowed to verify full date of birth.

In Michigan, effective July 1, 2021, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered the removal of all personal identifiers from public court files other than the defendant’s name. This is part of AO No 1994-4 establishment of Michigan Trial Courts Records Management Standards. In order to protect privacy and address security concerns, it is ordered that protected personal identifying information, as defined in court rule, filed with the state courts of Michigan in any form or manner and for any purpose must be nonpublic.  These identifiers include date of birth, social security number, driver’s license number passport numbers, etc.

In Texas, we are finding that in the major metro cities, an open-records request is immediately being sent to the city or county attorney who sends a blanket letter stating they have sent the request to the Attorney General for a ruling on whether it should be released or not.  Part of the letter to the AG includes this:

Arguments and Authorities

Section 552.101 (Common Law Privacy)(Criminal History)

The requested information consists of, or contains, compilations of an individual’s criminal history. The doctrine of common-law privacy protects information that is (1) highly intimate or embarrassing, the publication of which would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person, and (2) not of legitimate concern to the public. A compilation of an individual’s criminal history is highly embarrassing information, the publication of which would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person. See US Dep‘t of Justice v. Reporters Commfor Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749, 764 (1989). The City believes, then, that certain details within the requested information are excepted from required disclosure by section 552.101 of the Texas Government Code in conjunction with common-law privacy.


For the reasons set forth in this letter, the city seeks a ruling from the Office of the Attorney General to protect the enclosed records from disclosure.

For the most part, the AG is requiring the release of the documents with highly redacted information.  These are just some examples of why we as leaders have to be strong in our stand and response to issues such as these.  Most of us have been in the fight for a long time but it appears the noose continues to get tighter.  

End of copy


Best Regards,

Jeff Hammock


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Detection, Collection & Preservation

This article is provided by eChatter.

When it comes to an investigation, there is an overwhelming amount of information that needs to be gathered by the Investigator. Some of it is easy to find and some is buried deep.

The online research component is no different. There are times when you don’t know what you don’t know.

Let’s start with Social Media. You may have just found your subject’s Facebook profile. You take a look at it, spend time scrolling through posts and visit their friends’ profiles.Your work is done, right? Not necessarily.

Many people have multiple Facebook accounts as one example. The reasons vary- some intentional and some not. Why is this important?

·     The person may have a “family and friends” profile and another profile that is geared more towards their work (legal or illegal).

·     They created a profile but don’t have access to the email they signed up with and they forgot their password. This can still be important if you need historical information on the subject or a particular timeline.

·     Friends listed on the secondary profile may be different that the primary profile. This is where you may be able to uncover more pertinent information.

“Some of the biggest mistakes investigators make when handling digital evidence are not properly securing, logging or even considering evidence,” says Adam Wandt, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and researcher with John Jay College’s Center for Cyber Crime Studies.


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Brent Williams

Brent Williams, President of Hawk PI


Tell us when you started in the PI profession?

My career in investigations unknowingly started at 18 while I was still in high school. A friend of the family, Tom Hawkins, was in the business and offered me some part time surveillance work. I would go to school during the day and in the afternoons, I would follow people. I was having way more fun than any of my friends at their after school jobs and was making much better money from it.  I could always tell the best stories at parties with my tales from behind the camera. And speaking of those tales…


Tell us about your most exciting case.

 It was a divorce case. We were tasked with surveilling the husband on an out of town trip to a completely different continent! He was flying to a country in Central America, which the client (wife) confirmed. However, he told his wife he was flying to Asia for work. Knowing that was a lie, we knew the subject was up to something nefarious. We sent a two man team to the destination country the day before the subject’s flight left so that they could secure transportation, set up at the airport when the subject’s plane arrived, and prepare to follow the subject from the airport. We had no information as to where the subject would be staying during the trip.

That is where I came in. I was tasked with boarding the subject’s flight and initiating conversation while boarding. The hope was to extract information about where he planned to stay while abroad. I was successful in doing this – maybe a little too successful. I started a conversation with him and we struck a friendly chord – he even switched seats on the plane to sit next to me and tell me more about his trip. Considering this was a red eye flight, there were plenty of empty seats to do this.

By the time we landed, I had “befriended” the subject and we shared a cab to the hotel where he was staying. The team waiting in anticipation for mobile surveillance couldn’t believe it as we exited the airport and entered the cab together. For the next week or so, I covertly documented the subject’s activity and the case ended up being a slam dunk. However, I am not a callous person.  I felt bad for the deceitful role that I played in that situation. Despite the subject’s short comings as a husband, he was incredibly nice. Perhaps, a little too nice.


Tell us about your business and how it has grown.

Tom has been in the business for many years, way before I could even use a camera. He has worked hard over the years to grow Hawk PI into the firm it is today – using his consultative approach with clients and attorneys to build relationships and trust.


Where are you located and what services do you offer?

Hawk PI is based out of Atlanta and provides investigative services throughout the Southeast – mainly Georgia, Florida and Alabama. We offer the traditional PI services, the gold-standard if you will, that the members of GAPPI are familiar with.

Since the 90s, Tom has seen the industry change and has strived to be at the forefront in terms of quality of services and employing the latest in technology. We have branched into more technical investigations like TSCM and cell phone/computer forensics as well as bringing all of these services together for security consulting


What do you think is the key to being a successful PI?

Trying not to be too cliché- a good team and communications. The team at Hawk PI relies on each other and keep an open dialogue on the cases and clients.  Everyone within the company is kept up to date about the cases. We are all ready to step in when it is needed and help each other out and be flexible enough to handle the ever-changing needs and situations of a case. Everyone pitches in and shows up in the good times and in the bad times.


When you are not behind a camera or desk, where might we find you?

I enjoy hiking and spending time with my fiancé, Katie, and our two German Shepherds. If weather and work permits, you can find me on the water fishing. Flyfishing in particular, is something I really enjoy doing. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, I pass the time tying flies and planning out my next outing on the water.

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John M. Bloodworth

I began working in the private sector on a part-time basis in 2004, while working in a full time capacity in law enforcement.  In 2010, I worked off and on in the industry. In 2017, I opened my own investigation and security guard agency.

My faith in Almighty God has established and ordained this business and has seen its increase. Tithing is a relevant principle in my faith and it has proven true in my business: The more you give, of your time and money, the more increase of abundance.  Many people are hurting, carrying burdens and pains, seeking an answer to a question, truth, and light,

I do not advertise so I consider referrals or “word of mouth” to be the most effective business model because your work product has such an impact on many lives. Justice in truth should be our focal point. With so many injustices in the world, it is how we treat others that is most important. In truth and light.  Transparency, communication and understanding are three fundamental keys to success in this business.

Prior to entering this profession, I was in law enforcement. I worked investigations, instructor, firearms instructor, hostage negotiator, and conducted internal affairs investigations.  I earned a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology. I taught criminal justice, psychology, and employability skills at the technical level.  I have served on criminal justice advisory and crisis advocacy boards for Satilla Advocacy Services and Okefenokee Technical College’s Criminal Justice Program.  I have been a substance abuse counselor and intervention specialists. I am also a current registered neutral with the Georgia Supreme Court’s Office of Dispute Resolution.

One of the most exciting cases that I can recall at present, was a lengthy assignment concerning an evil deceitful, adulterous spouse who worked in medical supply sales.  He Resided in Southwest Georgia and worked in the northern part of the state. Surveillance was dynamic, constant and sporadic. It was most challenging, thank God for GPS and success.  He would contact his spouse and report that work was hectic so he would be spending the weekend up north. He would enter his vehicle and drive south and rent a motel room, approximate one mile from his home.  Enter paramour. This bird was strange. Challenging and hilarious. One for the books.

I currently work criminal investigations, infidelity and child custody cases, surveillance and security services.

I enjoy reading, meditation, and swimming.

GAPPI is important to me because it is an organization that is professional, kind and helpful, a great resource of wisdom, knowledge snd strength.

John M. Bloodworth
SEGA Professional Services:
Mediation | Investigations | Protective Services
33 Rogers Street
Hazlehurst, Georgia 31539 | Email
912-375-0073 | Office
912-282-2759 | Cellular

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Randy Finley

Tell us when you started in the PI Profession

I have been a licensed PI since 2000 or as I like to say, since the turn of the century.


What got you interested in this business

It was a Monday morning and as a single father I was awaiting the arrival of my 3-year-old’s babysitter so I could leave for work. However, she was very late and until that point had been reliable.  Fearing the worst, I thought she might be in trouble. She had not been heard from since the previous Friday evening when she called to say that she was spending the weekend with her (shady) friend, Mr. Smith and that his brother was giving them a ride. I didn’t know much about Mr. Smith except that he didn’t have a car. He had previously called my home to speak to the babysitter while he was at work. So, I dialed the phone number and learned that it was a mechanic’s shop in Covington, GA. I headed to Covington with my 3-year-old in tow. When we arrived at the mechanic shop, I learned that Mr. Smith had been fired weeks earlier. His former employer did not have his address and only knew that he lived lived with his brother in a trailer, behind their father’s home somewhere near Newborn GA. With this info we headed to Newborn. Upon arrival in Newborn there wasn’t much to see except a convenience store, farm supply store and a post office. We entered the post office and found a sweet little old lady working behind the counter. After telling her how I was trying to get in touch with my long-lost friend Mr. Smith and describing all that I knew about where he lived, she exclaimed that sounds like old J…. Smith’s place! I left the post office with a smile on my face and handwritten directions that included several dirt roads and soybean fields as waypoints. While in route to Mr. Smith’s place I traveled on rural county roads and the only sign of civilization was a country store & game room along the way. I found Smith’s trailer just where the postal clerk said it would be. The front door was open, and no one was inside, a magazine with the babysitter’s name & address lay on the coffee table. So, I knew I had the right place. As I walked back to my vehicle my phone rang, it was the babysitter. She said that she was stranded and when I asked where she was, I heard a Pac Man arcade game in the background.  I said never mind I know where you are. I found her & Mr. Smith near the pay phone at the country store & game room. It was at that moment, after locating someone named Smith, who owned no vehicle or property, had no job, and lived with relatives in the middle of nowhere, that I began thinking of becoming a private detective.


Tell us about your business and how it has grown

My business Accurate Investigations is generally a one-man operation, though it is scaleable to handle larger cases through networking with select partners. It has grown organically over time by word of mouth and maintaining long term professional relationships with attorneys, other detective agencies and private clients.


Where are you located and the services you offer

Located in Dacula, GA (Gwinnett County), I specialize in covert surveillance, executive protection, and special process service.


What do you think is the key to be successful as a PI

The desire to relentlessly pursue the facts and deliver them proficiently.


Tell us about your background before entering this profession

I was a painting contractor, specializing in repainting high-end residences.


Tell us about your most exciting case

Recently, a client retained me to locate her runaway 16-year-old daughter. It was not the first time that she had run away. On previous occasions she was harbored by her older boyfriend (who was reported to be a low-level drug dealer) and his family. She told her mom that in the past, she was inside the home of her boyfriend’s parents when law enforcement came looking for her. His parents lied and said that they haven’t seen her. By the time I got involved the girl had been missing for several weeks and the client was distraught that law enforcement couldn’t help. She had even spent a considerable amount of money on another PI, who eventually told her that he had run out of options (retainer) and recommended that she contact the local news media for help. I began by conducting surveillance. The setup was not easy, as the boyfriend’s parents lived on a cul-de-sac. To complicate matters even more, the boyfriend’s father was a used car dealer and they had access to multiple vehicles. On day two of the investigation, I found that his parents were throwing a party, there were seventeen vehicles parked at their home. After a couple of hours, the boyfriend arrived traveling with one of his friends in a ride share vehicle. They spent a couple hours at the party and then left, again traveling by ride share. I followed them to a low rent apartment complex where they remained for the evening. On day three, I resumed surveillance of the apartment. After an hour I saw the boyfriend’s friend coming and going from the apartment. Later in the evening the boyfriend emerged from the apartment, he was accompanied by my client’s daughter. I maintained surveillance and provided a photo to the client for positive identification. She took the photo to the magistrate and soon I was contacted by a local deputy. The deputy asked me to provide him with the specifics of the girl’s location and with the client’s permission, I did. Four sheriff’s deputies arrived to take the missing juvenile into custody. However, the runaway dove out a window and eluded capture. After searching for an hour in the dark, the deputies found the girl curled up in some nearby bushes. They took her into custody, returned her to her mother and the mother took her to a drug rehab facility for treatment.


What is your hobby/something that makes you relax

I enjoy traveling with my wife, riding motorcycles and spending time with our large, blended family.


What makes GAPPI important to you

GAPPI is important to me because of the combined wealth of experience its members have. No matter what challenge you face in your investigations, whether tactical, practical, or ethical you are always just an email or phone call away from expert guidance. GAPPI is also important because it has championed the cause of the professional investigator and given us a real voice in state legislation. GAPPI members are some of the best people I know and I am honored to call many of you, my friends.

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