Detectives trade in their badges for business cards

June 14, 1992|By Marie Westhaver | Marie Westhaver,Contributing Writer

Two longtime Howard County police detectives have taken their investigative skills and hung out a shingle in Ellicott City.

Wendell C. Rudacille and Steven R. Greisz retired from the police force in January to set up Verifacts Inc. after a combined 45 years of police work.

Verifacts becomes one of about two dozen private detective services in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. Rudacille and Greisz investigate for companies wanting to confirm the backgrounds of potential employees and also conduct pre-employment screenings and polygraph tests, which cost about $200. About half of area detective agencies offer polygraph testing, they said.

They also teach investigative techniques through "language analysis" seminars, which train police, insurance and bank investigators, personnel managers and others to identify the speaking traits of persons who are not being truthful.

The partners, who worked together their entire police careers, grew up within one mile of each other in Howard County, but didn't meet until they joined the police force. Both gravitated toward investigation early.

Rudacille, 46, of Huntington, became interested in detective work in 1968, when he worked with the Army's criminal investigation division of the military police. During his years with the county police, he focused on personal crimes, polygraph exams and statement analysis.

"The main reason I wanted to do this was to do something different after 20 years of bureaucracy," said Rudacille. "I wanted to do something on my own."

Greisz, 42, of Eldersburg in Carroll County, was a homicide detective.

"In Howard County, if you make sergeant, you're immediately out on the road," said Greisz. "I stopped participating in the promotion process 15 years ago when I found my niche in detective work."

But after 20 years of police work, he said, he'd had enough excitement.

Between them, they say, they've analyzed more than 2,000 statements, compiling data and statistics on how people who are being untruthful speak.

They are targeting large companies, retail stores, warehouses, fast-food restaurants and convenience stores for business. Much their current business comes from lawyers, including criminal attorneys who want private polygraph tests for their clients.

Companies often turn to such services in cases of internal theft, but sometimes their services are required for more unusual situations. Recently they were hired by a man who was being sued by some employees and thought the polygraph would help clear his name.

Their seminars describe methods of questioning and analysis that can indicate whether a person's answers are truthful, they said.

"Say $5,000 is missing from a company's safe," Rudacille said. "One person knows he took the money and left the office with it. Maybe he rehearsed different schemes and plans -- the information is even strong in memory. He's afraid to be caught stealing and lying."

These fears will make him look at an investigator's interview as something he has to survive, Rudacille said, and persons trained in language analysis can discover clues to that behavior.

"The people who didn't take the money have a different perspective. They're afraid that they won't be believed, that something they say will make the interviewer think they did it." Knowing these distinctions can help investigators close in on a criminal, they said.

"Most criminals are stupid, impulsive, opportunistic and don't look ahead to ramifications of their actions. They're also clever, manipulative and good at wheedling their way out of situations," said Rudacille.

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