Updated: Dec 2, 2019
Surveillance can be long and drawn out especially when activity is low. It is important not to become complacent even in the last hour. A case subject with little known information and no activity will be extremely difficult to anticipate. Even a seasoned investigator will not be able to predict when activity will occur on some cases!
Downtime can cause frustration, tiredness, stress, doubt, anxiety, insecurity and boredom. A first step in managing these symptoms of downtime is to recognize them as symptoms.
If you feel bored or anxious, you must find a way to keep yourself busy without jeopardizing the case, or your ability to react to activity. Music is a number one suggestion of mine because it keeps your eyes open. Music can help, but as hours pass you will find yourself looking down at your phone or tablet at some point. The nature of the job is very self managing, therefore I say do whatever works for you, AS LONG AS IT WORKS! if you can surf social media and confidently stay attentive to a door, then thats your prerogative. I just want to make it clear that when you are parked in a vehicle, safety should always be in thought, and you should always be fully aware of your surroundings.
Coffee has always been a debate. Coffee may help you stay alert, but remember that it is also a diuretic (makes you need a bathroom). When you are confined to a surveillance position, you may want to avoid a diuretic. If you are tired, try talking on the phone. It is another activity that won’t require your eyes and may keep your brain functioning. Pack healthy snacks and avoid too many carbs. Eat less amounts and more times throughout the day. This will keep energy in your body and avoid a food coma from overindulgence.
On important cases, you may be dealing with stress or anxiety, and maybe frustration. If you begin to feel stressed or anxious when activity is low, you can always reassure yourself that, as an investigator, you are responsible for documenting activity, not creating it. If there is no activity, it does not mean you did a bad job, it just means you have less to report. If this is a consistent problem case to case, then you may need to consult a manager for possible tips or further training. Practice won’t make anyone perfect, but it sure will make you better.
If you think you can watch movies and play games on surveillance, I would have to say best of luck to you. When you become an investigator whether it is for a criminal case a civil matter, you took an oath of integrity that you will do the right thing even when no one is looking. You also took a job that places you in potentially dangerous situations, and you should always remind yourself to keep your head on a swivel no matter how you manage your downtime.