Individuals whose business it is to observe and provide information about alleged criminals or to discover matters of secrecy for the protection of the public.
Private detectives are those who are hired by individuals for private protection or to obtain information. A private detective is licensed but is not ordinarily considered to be a public officer. In cases where private detectives perform the duties and exercise the powers of public officers, the constitutional provisions governing such officers can be applied to them.
Public detectives are employed by the general community for the protection of society and, as members of public law enforcement agencies and police departments, are considered peace officers.
The incorporation of private detective companies or associations may be subject to statutory requirements. Detectives are regulated by legislation as well as the rules of the municipality where they are employed. In the absence of contrary statutory provision, private detectives do not have the same powers as public peace officers.
A private detective can be held liable for rough shadowing—the open and public surveillance of an individual done in an unreasonable manner that constitutes an invasion of privacy.