Q&A with Investigator Ben Gilmore
Investigator Ben Gilmore splits his full-time commitment at the CCRB with his studies as a part-time student at Fordham University School of Law.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. What were you doing before you became an investigator?
Prior to working at the CCRB, I worked for a non-profit called the Religious Institute, which advocated for LGBTQ rights. I had also interned at a couple of public interest law firms while in college (I went to Occidental College in Los Angeles), worked in the college's admissions office, and worked on a research grant.
Now, after serving as an investigator for nearly five years, I’ve taken on new roles at the Agency while attending law school part-time at Fordham with funding from the Mayor’s Graduate Scholarship Fund.
2) When you first applied to be an investigator, what did you think the job was about?
I had two competing visions of what an investigator was going to be like—neither one of which was correct. I thought I would either be in the basement of some municipal building, splitting my time between getting paper cuts, drowning in boxes of evidence, and breathing in asbestos; or, I thought I would be at CSI headquarters, manipulating the city's central camera system to catch police misconduct. In reality, the job is somewhere in between and somewhere outside of my expectations. There definitely is a lot of paperwork to push, but there is also video and witnesses to track down, cases ready to be cracked. Most significantly, however, the job is people-oriented. You speak with civilians about encounters with the police and speak to police about their encounters with civilians.
3) What made you want to be an investigator?
I was interested in politics and local politics in particular. Working for a city agency seemed like a great way to get an inside perspective. It remains a learning experience to see the role of a city agency in the project of police accountability. The investigator position was also by far the most interesting and autonomous entry-level position out there for jobs in the public/non-profit sector. This is not a clerical position. You are conducting interviews. You are doing legal research. You are writing final reports. I loved the idea of having this much autonomy and the idea of developing a skill-set.
4)Do I have to be a lawyer or understand police procedures in order to be an investigator?
You do not need to be a lawyer or know police procedures when first starting. You will be trained in legal analysis and police procedures, and you will be guided by attorneys and experts in police procedures throughout your career as an investigator and during each of your investigations.
5) What part of the investigative process do you get most excited about?
I love interviewing officers. Interviewing is a critical skill that you develop as an investigator, and often times officers' own testimony forms the basis of the conclusion reached. That is to say, officer interviews are important and you as an investigator have a lot of control in how well they go. Luckily, you will have ample opportunity to learn interviewing skills by second-seating experienced investigators' interviews, attending APU trials to see attorneys question witnesses, and having an experienced interviewer sit with you when you begin leading your own interviews. It's exciting!
6) What inspires you to come back to work every day?
I love the people at the CCRB. This is a big part of what keeps me coming back. My coworkers are passionate, smart, and hardworking. It feels great to be part of that. I also believe in the mission of the CCRB, and I am happy to be lending my talents and time to further that mission.