CASPER, Wyo. — Jacob Carlson says that he wasn’t counting on retiring from the Casper Police Department as soon as he did.
“It’s kind of unfortunate the way it ended. Not that it’s any fault of the department,” Carlson told Oil City News. “But I didn’t foresee retiring after four years.”
In spring of last year, Carlson was involved in an incident that would change his life forever.
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During a May 2018 shootout with an armed suspect, Carlson was seriously injured by gunfire. After being taken to the Wyoming Medical Center, he stayed for over a month and received several life-saving surgeries during his stay.
Carlson’s subsequent release from the hospital happened one year ago this month.
Carlson remained with the CPD, and was said to be on “Administrative Leave” before ultimately retiring from the department in January of 2019.
“I got sick of sitting on the couch, doing nothing,” he said.
Up to that point, Carlson described his professional life as being largely in the realm of both military and law enforcement. When thinking of post retirement life, he said that he would often confide in a friend of his. That’s when the idea came to both of them: Private Investigations.
“One of my buddies owns a few businesses in town, and as I was coming up on retirement I would confide in him, talking about life after retirement,” Carlson explained. “I was going to visit him one day and the idea popped in my head. I don’t know what made me think of it. I was thinking ‘what can I bring to the table, what can I sell?’”
Carlson launched JDC Investigations LLC in March of 2017, doing pre-employment background checks for the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office and the Casper Police Department.
His work with the NCSO put him in touch with the then-Investigations Sergeant, Aaron Shatto, who was due for retirement at the end of May.
Carlson said that he and Shatto had been acquainted previously, when both were in law enforcement, but they didn’t really know each other.
“We knew of each other, and we talked to each other, just kind of like all law enforcement does,” Carlson said.
As the two began to work together, Shatto offered Carlson tips and contacts. After a while, the subject was discussed to bring Shatto in as a partner.
“He’s super experienced in backgrounds,” Carlson said. “As we talked and business started to grow, he got more comfortable stepping in as a partner.”
Between the two men, they say that business is going well, and they’ve been working and doing background checks with firms, including local law enforcement and attorneys from around Wyoming.
“It’s very similar to law enforcement, except we’re not running around with guns and body armor, arresting people,” said Carlson. “But it is similar in that we are conducting interviews and revisiting cases an attorney might have. We don’t have arrest power, but we still have to write reports. It feels like a private version of law enforcement.”
Thinking of a private investigator may conjure up shadowy images of a fedora wearing Humphrey Bogart type, but Shatto and Carlson probably won’t be seen with magnifying glasses, searching for black statuettes from Malta. Carlson says that most of their work is done in an office setting.
“Phone interviews, typing reports, calling references. If they’re local, we’ll meet them at the Sheriff’s office or something like that,” Carlson said, going on to explain that many of the people on whom they’re performing checks are potential new hires for law enforcement. “We’re looking for any disqualifiers, and we’re looking for anything that is good. We’re not only looking for bad, we’re looking for things that will make them stand out against other applicants.”
It’s also said that the pair has considered offering some types of surveillance for clients as well.
How is it working with the Casper Police Department after his retirement?
Carlson says that while there was some controversy following the shooting, regarding his employment status, he feels that things between he and the department were amicable.
“We had our hiccup before I officially returned to the police department. The day that I turned in my resignation- and I gave them a month’s notice- I asked the chief’s secretary if I could sit down with the chief, the captains, and all the lieutenants, and I wanted my Sergeant there as well,” said Carlson. “I broke the news to them in person, and I gave them a letter. It was kind of emotional, in a good way. Kind of a sad- this is what I’ve known, this is kind of what I’ve always wanted.”
“It was pretty emotional. They even said that if I got a few weeks into retirement and couldn’t stand it, they’d be happy to have me back. So I think we left on really good terms.”
According to both of the men involved in the firm, business has been becoming brisk since Carlson began in March.
This week, however, Shatto and Carlson were spotted helping out by teaching law enforcement related classes, to young students, at KEY camp at Casper College.