Thursday, 11 April 2024 13:11

Inside the World of Saratoga’s Private Investigators

Local private investigator Jeremiah Brooks poses next to two of his company’s vehicles. Photo provided by Alivia Waldron. Local private investigator Jeremiah Brooks poses next to two of his company’s vehicles. Photo provided by Alivia Waldron.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Forget what you’ve seen on “CSI” or in Humphrey Bogart movies; in today’s world, private investigators bear little resemblance to their Hollywood caricatures.

When a potential client walks into Brooks Investigations Group’s office in Saratoga Springs, there are some fanciful notions that might need to be dispelled.

“There’s no magical prescription drug where we can literally find everything about someone,” said Jeremiah Brooks, Chief of Investigations. “The FBI has a background check system that provides 5% of the information mine does, and that’s the FBI.”

Brooks’ background investigations can range from someone looking to learn more about their future significant other to business owners who suspect they’re being swindled. These cases are only one of many tasks that private investigators can do. Brooks Investigations Group’s top cases usually fall under the categories of criminal defense or family court. But there is one case category that seems to be popular in the Saratoga area: evictions. 

“Sometimes that just involves us serving paperwork, and other times we do 24-hour inspections,” Brooks said. “24-hour inspections are designed, number one, to make sure that the current resident or squatter is not damaging the property, but also to let them know that my clients are taking this very seriously, they’re acting within the law and they’re not going to make it comfortable for you to sit here and squeeze them dry.”

Brooks Investigations Group’s central office is in Plattsburgh, and the company added its second brick-and-mortar location in Saratoga Springs last year. But Brooks also has investigators working out of “satellite offices” in Albany, Elmira, and Massena. These investigators don’t have physical offices per se, but they each command a small team of people, many of whom are ex-law enforcement. Brooks said that “at least” 90% of his staff have some law enforcement background. 

“When I sit down with somebody that I’m about to hire, I want them to share my vision,” Brooks said. “I want them to have that same vision that we don’t go into a case with blinders on, which occurs in many police investigations. They’ll actually formulate conclusions well before the facts have been collected, and that’s one thing that we try to do the opposite. We stay objective. We stay open-minded. We’re never biased. We use our training to help us, but we also have an open mind. My team is very much like that, and that’s why we’re successful with what we do.”

Brooks’ philosophy of staying open-minded has led to his company taking on a number of criminal defense cases. Public defenders often contact private investigators to assist with their cases, and this, Brooks said, is where his company truly shines. 

“The police have investigators, the district attorney has the police; somebody that’s accused has their defense attorney and that’s it,” Brooks said. “It’s not really set up to be fair.”

Brooks Investigations Group conducts its own investigations independently of the police, and sometimes its findings contradict the official record, or even reveal alleged corruption. “We’re changing the landscape on criminal defense,” Brooks said.

Though radically different from how the media often portrays them, private investigators are undoubtedly having an influence across the country, and right here in Saratoga Springs.

Brooks Investigations’ Saratoga office is located at 120 West Avenue, in suite 212.

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