I recently watched “Cool Hand Luke” for the umpteenth time and the hound dogs got me thinking (see video). They got me laughing too (c’mon…those howls are hilarious). I can’t believe the tenacity of these things. Tearing through barbwire and busting through fences because the scent is driving them crazy. It’s like they’ll die if they don’t catch the scent. I’m not willing to call myself a hound dog but I can relate to the thrill of the search.
Your trackers need to be driven by the search. There’s a personality type that is always driven by what they’re going after (ie. Al Pacino’s character in “Heat”). If they see it only as a job, they won’t succeed. The “hardest-to-find” are just that. You need all [hands-feet-brain cells] on deck.
I’m happy to report that the training in Denver went well. Thanks to the good people at the University of Colorado. They continue to be great collaborators.
When thinking about the city of Denver, my head spins. Things change. I know it and you know it. It’s been three years since I visited so I expected to see plenty of change when I returned. Man, I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t get my bearings because all the main landmarks were hidden by new condos. The old familiar areas with affordable housing were completely bulldozed. Local nonprofits were vacant (and likely bulldozed by now).
When you do follow-up after several years, whole neighborhoods can disappear. With the massive migration of money into urban areas across the country, the working class are being pushed into the suburbs. (In Denver’s case, the people are being pushed out of the metropolitan area entirely). This means more travel time when going by new addresses. You may even consider relocating your project’s headquarters to be closer to the people in your project.
Several years back I decide to reach out to a well-known organization trying to find missing children. I spend an hour writing a detailed email describing my background, experience, skills, and results in regards to finding the “unfindable.” I start and end the email with one statement:
“I’d like to help with your effort, free of charge.”
After a few edits, I’m satisfied. Detailed and concise. Empathetic and serious.
I push “Send.”
This is a national organization so I’m not sure I’ll hear back from them. i move on with my day.
A few days later, I see an email from the national organization. This is it. I see visions of the coolest and most meaningful collaboration in my future. I click on the email.
I immediately see the message is brief. This is the basic gist of it:
“Thank you for your email. If you want to help our mission, please donate money to our organization.”
Damn. I sit shaking my head.
I know how difficult it is to find people. I also know these skills are generously rewarded because of the difficulty of the task and the rarity of the skill set.
And my free offer just ran into a brick wall.
The lesson here is to maximize the skill set in front of you. If you have a team of trackers, maximize the skills of each person. Some people love searching the internet. Some love going by addresses. Some love reaching out to people on the phone. Some love managing the project’s activities.
All are important to the follow-up effort. Don’t try to slam a square peg in a round hole. Roll with their skills and you’ll do wonders.
Seriously. Ok, maybe not everything. But my first tracking experience occurred at Disneyland when I was eight years old. It’s the mid-80s. Our family loads up the wood panel station wagon and hits the road. North Dakota to California. It seems like forever. After three days of endless roads, we roll into L.A. We are exhausted. We collapse into […]
I’m going back to where it all started. Recently I confirmed a trip to Denver to conduct a training with the very organization that gave me my first opportunity in the longitudinal research world – the University of Colorado. My first assignment was to find almost 1000 drugs addicts from a study several years prior. This […]
New Orleans. One of the best cities on the planet. I’m gushing because I just got back. First, go there. Second, I had a nostalgic moment I need to write about. Technology is now an intregal part of travel. We can’t go anywhere without staring at our phones wondering where to walk, eat, drink, or […]
Searching in public records seems pretty straight forward. The site will give you several criteria to choose from including name, social security number, address and phone. Just throw in the info you have and let it roll. What if your results are subpar, minimal or nil? Search is over, right? Wrong. You only glimpsed the […]
Social media is a form of publishing personal information. Not just sharing, publishing. If your participants choose to publish information for the world to see, it can be used to locate them. I once read about a bondsman looking for a client who violated parole. He had a warrant for her arrest. He found her […]
Storage auction shows are all over television nowadays. If you sift through the fluff, scripts and heavy production, you can find a few pointers. Bidders are investigators. Because they can’t touch the items in the storage unit, they have to take everything at face value. Even though they only see the face, there’s much more […]
The world of finding people continues to change. Just when you think things are stable, the ground underneath you shifts. The routine is gone. You need to start over again. One ingredient under constant change is the world of public records databases. They never sit still. They are businesses, and businesses fail, g0 bankrupt or […]