8 Hours w/ Adam Visnic P.I. from Gravitas Investigations
In our 8 Hours With series, we speak with leading private investigators and security professionals to learn more about what they do on a days’ worth of work. We reach out to them at hourly intervals to see how they spent the day and document their activities.
In this article, we look into the day of Adam Visnic P.I. – founder of Gravitas Investigations a licensed Private Investigator in Cincinnati, OH. He partners and integrates with business leaders, risk managers, claims analysts, and attorneys to tackle their investigative needs and challenges. He helps his clients capitalize on hidden opportunities. Once he integrates his team with his client’s departments, he’s able to equip them with the information necessary to make the right decisions and stay competitive.
With that introduction, let’s start up his 8-hour day: It’s actually more like 10 hours
6:00 AM – Up and at em.
I’ve got to be up before the rest of my family wakes up so I can get 30 minutes to an hour of work in before breakfast has to be made and the kids have to get dressed and get out the door.
I’ve worked from home or remotely for the past nine years, so I can just plop in front of a laptop and it’s off to the races.
Overnight, I’ll have received email updates from my team in TrackOps. So, I’ll review, edit, and send updates (with video footage) out to clients so that they can read them first thing. It’s crucial to communication, and for up-to-date intelligence, that they know what’s going on. I never wanna be behind the eight-ball.
More emails and checking feeds till I hear the pitter-patter of little feet. I have two sons, 4 and 3, and another one (a girl) on the way.
7:00 AM – Breakfast of Champions
Coffee, eggs/egg whites, and toast. Before I become Adam Visnic P.I., I’m Dad. My boys love peanut butter on graham crackers right now – that’s easy enough to make. But, I’ve been eating the same breakfast for that last decade. Steve Jobs wore black turtle necks every day to keep his decision-making power intact, I eat the same breakfast.
8:00 AM – Dad Van
I’m my kids’ personal chauffeur, so it’s off to either preschool or daycare.
8:30 AM – Back to work.
Sending out finalized reports and video footage, invoices, and updating financial spreadsheets.
I don’t personally do surveillance anymore. I haven’t for almost two years. I’ve contracted that out to a select group of PIs. Instead, I conducting preliminary investigations or Open Source Intelligence investigations.
Additionally, throughout the day and sometimes evenings, I’ll be receiving texts from investigators in the field who have questions on what to do on surveillance. Communication is key.
11:00 AM – Sales and Marketing
I’m in my Customer Relationship Management system (Cloze CRM) emailing or calling clients and prospective clients.
I’m also connecting with potential leads on LinkedIn and writing personalized messages.
12:00 PM – Lunch Time
Lunch with my wife, who now works from a home office due to COVID restrictions. This means for the past year I’ve been able to work in the same house with her. It’s legitimately been the best thing for us. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to having a successful business without her. Plus, she works in our cozy finished basement – she’s really living it up down there.
1:00 PM – Content Creation
This is where I’ll create my YouTube videos. Since, I’m going full-bore on YouTube (Adam Visnic, P.I.) as a way to show expertise, create a community of fellow private eyes, establish thought leadership, and market my business, I’ll be developing video scripts, filming footage, editing footage, and posting to multiple social media platforms across the whole week.
Then, I’ll funnel that into my email newsletter for a couple of hundred clients and fellow PIs to read and watch.
// Subscribe to my channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/AdamVisnic
2:30 PM – Gotta pay the bills.
I’m a contract national security background investigator on the side, so when I need funds to “keep the lights on” and the cash flowing in, I’ll have a contract liaison assign me cases from one of seven different federal government agencies. If you’ve ever had a security clearance, you know the drill – subject interviews, record checks, transcript pulls, employment verifications, and reference interviews. Submit reports. Cash checks.
4:00 PM – Clear your head phase
I don’t know if a business owner ever really “clears their head,” (I’m always thinking about the biz) but if I don’t get a sweat going at some time in the day, I’m a disturbed man. I’m lucky to have a small gym in my basement with dumbbells, barbells, a pull-up bar, and a heavy bag. That, or it’s a 2-mile run through the neighborhood.
5:00 PM – Clock out.
This article was originally posted on the P.I. Feed. View it here.
The Reason You Got Burned: Driving By Too Slowly
So, you’re a private investigator on surveillance and you got burned and you don’t know why. Was it because you drove past your Subject’s house too slowly?
So, drive-by video. I learned this lesson early on in my career.
It became ingrained in my brain.
Because I was assigned to a two-person surveillance operation on workers’ compensation claimant in a rural area of Ohio. Like, we’re talking Amish country people. You’ve got horse and buggy, oxen plowing fields, and epic Amish beards.
But, the reason it was a two-man operation wasn’t that it was so rural, but because the previous investigative team (not from our firm) had been burned on it before.
So, our Claimant was already “heated up.”
And we knew why – the client had provided the previous report and video to us, so we knew what they had done wrong.
This Claimant lived on a country road, and the previous investigators had driven past the house too often, and, too slowly.
Eventually, the claimant, who had a residence with a huge bay window at the front of his house, caught on to the drive-bys.
I mean, he probably knew all his neighbors’ cars as it was, and seeing two cars he’d never seen before drive by every half-hour alerted him.
And this was all in the report – the claimant actually got into his own car and tailed the investigators out of the county.
Look, I get it. When you first get onsite to a residence, your natural inclination is to a good establishing shot. You wanna get a shot of the house, the layout, note the plates and vehicles on-site, on top of any action that might be going on.
But that doesn’t mean driving along the road at normal speeds and then all of sudden, dropping it down to a crawl to get some drive-by footage.
That’s a disaster in the making.
So, I’m here to help.
First, obviously, don’t ever drive by the house too slowly. There’s no reason for it.
When you do drive-bys, go at a normal speed every time. As if you were an average joe living in the area.
But when you’re shooting video, get the house in the frame early and pan left or right as you pass the house.
Also, while this is going on, zoom in at first and then zoom out wide as you pass by the house to frame everything up nicely.
It’ll take some practice to both stay on the road with one hand and pan and zoom with your camera hand.
The key is to keep it steady. Keep it level.
This isn’t shaky cam footage Jason Bourne.
If you wanna get really fancy you can get ahold of a window mount, one with a suction cup, and fix your camcorder or even a dash camera to the second-row window of your surveillance vehicle.
Press record, do the drive-by, and later edit out what’s unnecessary.
There’s a link below to a mount to get you started: https://amzn.to/2Yh1NWO
Second, especially in rural areas, limit your drive-bys to every hour or so.
You can certainly do drive-bys every half-hour, but only when you feel you need to.
Like if there have been multiple cars coming and going from the residential area, it’s lunchtime for the Claimant, or something similar.
And don’t just come back up the road in which you initially drove down. Give it time.
Driving by the house within a couple of minutes of each other is suspicious.
Instead, drive by the first time and “flank” back to your original surveillance position by going around the “block” assuming there’s another route to get to your original spot.
However, if the residence is in a hollow (like in Kentucky), like a no-outlet street, I’d limit my drive-bys to every two hours.
And, I know what you’re thinking – I could use drone footage or an unmanned surveillance camera hidden in a rock or safety cone to get static video.
Hold your horses, James Bond. That’s a video for another day.
For now, let’s just stick with the basics.
Third, hide your camera.
It may sound simple but what’s worked for me is to actually place my camera hand or monopod on the top of my left arm to stabilize and hide the camera.
I’ll do this if the residence is on my left side.
If the residence is on my right side, I’ll actually place my camera behind the passenger side headrest to get drive-by footage.
These simple methods help to prevent people from seeing my camera through my front windshield as I drive by.
This is me trying to be as casual as possible.
Lastly, and I can’t believe I have to say this but close your windows when filming drive-bys.
If you can’t get the footage because your windows are foggy or dirty, clean those things before getting onsite for crying out loud.
Overall, use the KISS method – keep it simple, stupid.
Drive by the residence like a normal person would (not too slowly!), limit drive-bys to every hour, hide your camera, and keep your windows up.
And, just in case you were wondering. Even with the knowledge of the previous investigation, we still couldn’t get much of anything on that Claimant in rural Ohio. But, at least he didn’t tail us.
Anybody wanna volunteer to take that case??
Over to you…
What ways can you prevent from getting burned?
Workplace Accident Investigations
Many workplaces equate a workplace accident investigation by identifying the party to blame for it. The actual goal of a workplace accident investigation is to prevent its re-occurrence.
While your firm may tackle the workers’ compensation process alone, we believe you better serve your company and its employees’ safety by including a private investigation firm in the total process. Your investigation needs to go beyond the party at fault and make prevention the focus of the investigation.
Accident Investigations and Safer Workplaces
The overarching goal of a workplace accident is to identify the cause of the injuries, followed by developing procedures and processes to prevent future injuries. This process starts with proper evidence collection and information gathering.
Certainly, in the US and Canada, workplace accident investigations form an integral part of legal compliance with Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) standards. They’re also vital for determining the accident’s cost, to process workers’ compensation claims, and to determine the level of compliance with OSHA regulations.
While OSHA’s focus will center on the incident report and the proper medical treatment of injured employees, your investigation should focus beyond that to the causal factors.
The quickest and easiest way to administer the investigation is to create and document the process before it is needed. Develop the paperwork and the process formats before their need arises. While the scope of an investigation may differ, the overall process remains the same. A process should remain the same from investigation to investigation to keep the value of any conclusions consistent.
The “Who” in the Investigation
Within your organization, the immediate supervisor of the injured worker should conduct the investigation. The risk manager or safe workplace practitioner may assist, along with any investigative or review committee in existence. Senior management personnel, engineering staff, and the firm’s attorneys may also join in an investigation involving a fatality. During the investigation, you should interview:
- any injured employees,
- accident witnesses,
- witnesses to events preceding the accident,
- the injured employees’ immediate supervisor unless they’re heading the investigation.
- The injured employee may have an employee representative present during their interview.
The “What” in the Investigation
The “what” in the investigation refers to the information you collect to determine the accident’s cause and those involved. The data you obtain will later enable your analysis to determine a preventative method for future occurrences. During the investigative process, you should collect:
- the employee characteristics such as age and gender, department, job title, experience level, job and company tenure, training records and their hiring status,
- the injury characteristics of each injured employee including an injury or illness description, severity, and body part(s) affected,
- an events sequence and a narrative description from each involved party and each witness,
- characteristics of all equipment involved in the accident,
- task descriptions featuring specific characteristics of its performed when the accident occurred,
- any factors related to time such as the time of day, placement within their shift, etc.
- supervision data such as whether they were under direct supervision or not at all,
- causal factors such as the contributing workplace conditions,
- corrective actions are taken whether immediate, interim, or long-term.
The “How” of Your Investigation
The “how” refers to the tools with which you investigate the accident. Having a ready to go kit will help you complete a timely investigation. This kit needs to include:
- investigation and interview forms,
- barricade markers/tape,
- padlocks or warning tags,
- camera or video recorder,
- voice recorder,
- measuring tape,
- sample containers.
Having this kit ready to go lets you begin interviewing people immediately after the event occurs. You’ll produce better results by building rapport with injured employees and witnesses. Reassure each person interviewed that you want to fact-find. They need to know it is not about determining fault.
Your full investigation will also include a background investigation that reviews the employment and injury records of each injured employee, as well as, any other party whose actions may have contributed to the accident. Pay close attention to reports of any injuries or damage to equipment, machines, buildings, or property.
Interview each individual separately. Have each person recount their recollection of the account uninterrupted. Record their response and take notes.
After their recount, ask any clarifying questions needed. Repeat the factual information they said to clarify inconsistencies. One of the key questions you will ask is “What do you think could have prevented this?”
Remember that you need to uncover the causal factors to prevent them from ever happening again. Ask “why?” of those you interview.
Six Steps to Better Investigations
Succinctly, you can sum up a properly administered investigation in six steps. These are:
- Handle the immediate risk by obtaining immediate medical help for the injured employee(s). Cordon off the incident area to preserve evidence and deny access. Report the accident/incident to OSHA.
- Collect evidence as soon as possible after the injured have been removed for medical attention.
- Conduct the investigation interviews as soon as possible. You can interview witnesses while the injured receive medical attention. This immediacy provides the most accurate details.
- Analyze your findings. Your analysis develops the corrective actions that will stop it from happening again.
- Write your findings report. This summarizes the incident and describes the corrective actions applied to prevent its reoccurrence.
- Apply corrective actions. Implement new procedures to ensure the prevention of future accidents. This might include machine replacement or repairs or signage.
Determining Deeper Causality
Once combined and analyzed, the accident photos, videos, interviews, and physical evidence should lead you to the deeper causality of the accident. Pay close attention to potentially contributing environmental conditions such as weather, light, and noise. Also, examine extenuating factors and externalities.
The accident investigation becomes an opportunity for you to discover an improvement for your company’s business processes. The focus should be on identifying flaws in the process that lead to the incident. It should unearth the reason that procedures were not followed or what prevented them from happening.
Your final report should discuss the contributing, direct, and indirect causes of the accident. Reference data that support each cause.
While your ultimate goal is the prevention of future accidents, a secondary goal is preparation for possible litigation. This is a likely outcome if the accident resulted in severe injuries or fatalities.
The lessons learned from each accident can help prevent larger ones in the future. It’s also important to investigate so that employees and regulators see that your company consistently pursues its commitment to a safe workplace.
Key Questions to Ask
During the interviews, you need to focus on questions that will help you answer larger, deeper issues. Your interview focus should apply queries that help you eventually address the following questions.
- Was a hazardous condition or defective tool a contributing factor?
- Did the worker’s location or equipment location contribute to the accident?
- Did the established job procedure or process contribute to the accident?
- Did the employee’s ability to perform the job contribute to the accident?
- Did any mandates such as speed incentives or production quotas encourage deviation from job procedures that contributed to the accident?
- Was lack of personal protective equipment or emergency equipment a contributing factor?
- Did management or a manager’s decision contribute to the accident?
The answers you derive from evidentiary analysis help you determine the appropriate prevention methods to pursue. This could mean a need for new procedures or the need for new equipment. This may also indicate the need for employee education and training or for improved education and training. Another potential result is the need for additional safety gear or to develop or improve protection from natural hazards or phenomena. Finally, it could also point to the need for or improvement of systems to account for possible physical, physiological, or psychological limitations of employees.
Your investigation of any workplace accident should include a background investigation, site investigation, interviews, analysis, and a final report. The aftereffect of the investigation should be amended or new procedures and processes. During your investigation, remember that placing blame is not the reason for your investigation – creating a safer workplace that in the future prevents its re-occurrence is.
While your company could tackle the workers’ compensation process alone, we believe you better serve your company and its employees with a safer workplace by including our private investigation firm in the total process. We help you take your investigation beyond finding the party at fault and to developing preventative measures that keep the accident from repeating itself. Commit to a safer workplace by developing a standardized workplace accident investigation procedure and process. The work you do today results in a safer, stronger workplace tomorrow for all of your employees.