Episode 05 - Ken Ringo
Our guest today is a private investigator rocking the great state of Texas. He went from being a police officer to receiving training from the FBI. He's hyper-involved in the legal community and has even put out a few fires. Ken Ringo, welcome to the show.
Thank you. Happy to be here.
Ken tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in the industry.
Well, I started out as a police officer in 2009 and part of my duties was serving paperwork for different parts of the court system all the way down to even serving our city council with their papers before it was time to meet up, which they would put a lot of stress on us that way. I worked as a firefighter too in my spare time, as a volunteer firefighter. I was also trained as a medic and my last position as a police officer, I was also one of the medics that would respond to calls.
I was a firefighter as well in Muerte, New Mexico. Our closest hospital was an hour away and we're the only ambulance in that area. When I was just a firefighter and we got funding to get a new ambulance and that was like the most fun day. We got this big old, huge, red ambulance that had airbags in the back, it's fancy lights and everything, and it was cool. Definitely a cool, not a hobby, but a way to give back to your community. That's cool.
Tell me about this FBI training.
Well, I took training at active shooter response. I took it back in 2013 due to everything that was going on. We were having more active shooters, more incidents. The FBI ended up training a lot of police officers in certain ways to respond with that. That was the main reason behind that.
Any training is good training. Ken, I just want to ask you, do you got a family?
Yes, I do. I have a wife. I've been married 13 years. She's also an investigator with us and a process server. I have two kids, 10 and 11. They're boy and girl. They're typical kids.
Ken, how is it working with your wife every day?
We're probably the only two people that can put up with each other and I think that's the reason why we work really well together.
That's awesome and that's a great answer. Good job. Ken, there's a reason why you're on my show. You have a lot going on right now, some good experiences, some bad ones, but first, tell me about your worst experience working in the field.
Let's see. One of the worst ones as far as being a process server, I went to go serve this one individual that was being sued and I just had to serve a subpoena on them, which subpoena's not that big of a deal, you would think. It was in the middle of nowhere. I show up, drive down his driveway to get to his house. He wasn't there yet. He had a friend in the yard doing yard work. I ask him, I say, "Hey, do you know where Pat's at," and he tells me, "Yeah, he's pulling up right now." Sure enough, here comes this Dodge Dully rolling down the driveway. He gets out, big old guy. He's at least 6'4. Now, I'm 5'7, 140 pounds.
So, typically, I try to be as calm and nice as possible with these folks and I tell them, "Hey, I just got a subpoena for you real quick." He gets pretty upset and irate and starts telling me, "Well, I'm not accepting nothing here. You come on my property threatening me." I said, "Sir, I'm not threatening you." He said, "Well, that's not what my wife's gonna say in the truck. That's not what he's gonna say." Well, "Guess what this body cam's gonna say?"
So, he then shoves me and says, "Well, you're not leaving I've called the Sheriff, and the Sheriff is coming." I said, "Here's your subpoena." I dropped it on the hood of his truck and said, "Nah, I'm going." He says, "Were you ever a police officer?" "Yes sir, and right now this is unlawful detention." He's like, "Well, I'm a cop. I can hold you here. It's like, "No, sir, you can't. It's unlawful detention. I'm gone." I get in my car and cut a nice little donut in his front yard because he blocked the roadway. So, I just went through the grass, made nice little rivets. I was happy about that. Get down the roadway and I end up calling the Sheriff's department, let them know what happened and they come to me and they said, "You said that he said he was a cop?" "Yeah." "Yeah, he's never been a cop. Did you get that on video?" "Yeah.""Can we get that?" "Yeah, here you go."
Wow. Impersonating a police officer.
That guy was the one that really got me worked up because I didn't have body armor on that day and he had a very large revolver on his hip and it was just one of those days I thought it was going to be simple because he was a business owner.
That's the thing, you never know. What I find is so funny, is you talk to the attorneys who say, "Oh, it's gonna be an easy one. It's gonna be an easy one and done." I don't tell them this because they're not gonna understand but as a process server, I'm like, you just jinxed it. I'm gonna go out there and she would have been the nice old lady that answered the door and received service but now, since you said that, I'm gonna go out there and she's not gonna answer the door.
That's exactly right and the ones that they always say is gonna be violent, you need to be careful and prepared, are the ones that hug you at the end and say, "I have been waiting for these divorce papers forever. Thank you." That happened on Valentine's Day just recently.
What do you want Server Nation to get from your story?
Be prepared. It's better to be over prepared than under prepared. You never know what people are going to act like and I've found that going up to these doors, knocking on these houses, is far worse than any traffic stop. I've had more people pull guns on me serving papers than I ever did as a police officer.
Oh man. No, do you ... Is it brandishing? In California, they'll get arrested for that, how about where you're at?
In Texas, it's considered disorderly conduct to an extent. Most of the time they'll let it slide, which is unfortunate but typically they would consider it disorderly conduct. If it's pointed directly at you it's deadly conduct. Deadly conduct is a class A misdemeanor here in Texas.
So, even then you might not get arrested, even in ...
That sucks. Now tell me about your greatest experience working in the field.
I think my favorite one was, we get a call from a Georgia Deputy. He was trying to locate a family member of his. It was his granddaughter. His son had gotten all the court papers taken care of. He had full custody. The deputies down here were trying to serve a rid of attachment to try to get the baby back in his custody. They had spent months searching. They've gotten other deputies, other counties involved. We got involved at that point because the local deputies, they exhausted all their resources.
So, we kind of got involved in it and she had family scattered throughout Texas, so, I was able to enlist a couple of other people I had met throughout the Facebook groups. I think even one of them's on Process Server Nation and we started trying to hunt her down and after about two weeks, we managed to finally locate her and was able to help the deputies effect service on that rit. That one I didn't charge nearly what I could have. I cut it down way low because that's one of those stories that ... That's one of those cases that it just meant something. It wasn't, "Oh, I think my spouse is cheating on me and I want you to go find him." It wasn't anything like that. It was somebody that hadn't seen his 18-month-old child in six, seven months. That one meant something.
Yeah. A lot of times the experiences that we have out in the field will result in happy warm feelings but I think it's important that we have those because so often we have the negative experiences where you have to serve a single mom, who's unemployed, with eviction papers. So, it goes both ways but that's a great story. What do you want Server Nation to get from your story, you're greatest experience in the filed?
No matter how bad a situation seems, no matter how difficult the situation that you may be brought into may be, there's always an outcome that best fits the situation. There's always an outcome for that person that you're working for that needs your help. They have to come to you and they need what your experience. They need your help to effect what they're trying to do, whether it's finding a missing child, whether it's serving divorce papers, whether it's serving custody papers to where ... Serving a TRO, a temporary restraining order, that needs to be done. They need your help with it and no matter how bad it may look, in the end, you did something that's gonna help.
Server Nation this is your only opportunity. You're only as good as your last serve. So many opportunities I've had where I thought, "I haven't heard from them in a while," and I always think, "What was the last serve?" "Oh yeah, it was personal service and I got them to proof right away," but there are times where I've slipped or my office has slipped and we didn't get a proof back right away and you don't hear from them for a while and I call them and I go, "Hey, I'll give you the next three services free." Your opportunity, your greatest experience, what I've taken from that is, every opportunity you have to be able to serve the public and be able to help others is an opportunity for your business to shine.
I don't know what that resulted in but for me, I always say, the greatest review you can give is a referral. Tell your friends and family. It's weird in this business but it's not that weird. Honestly, people go through divorces, small claims. I'm my church, all the time, people come up to me like, "Hey, this guy owes me money." I got a couple car dealership clients from that. They're like, "I just want you to do all my small claims paperwork." So, we handle all the small claim's paperwork. We sue them. We help them sue people in small claims. That's great Ken. So, tell me about what you're working on right now that has you most fired up?
Well, I'm trying to get my website more mobile friendly because it looks great on a desktop. I've worked rally hard on that but how many people really have a desktop anymore? Everybody's looking at everything on their phones. You can't walk down the street without seeing every person looking straight down in their phone, walking into telephone polls, or even if you're driving, unfortunately, everybody's still got their heads buried in their phones.
I wasn't a big fan if Wix but it's one of the newer ones that advertising a lot. It's pretty nice. I like a lot of the features. I don't really like how it's not super user-friendly. I started out using Weebly, Word Press, and now the go-to run for email marketing is clickFunnels. ClickFunnels is a really good site for building a reoccurring web and new business. I don't use it now but if I was going to build a website from scratch I would probably use either Wix or ClickFunnels.
I built mine directly from scratch. I went out and I took all the photos during a big storm that we had had because it looks neat to have nice ... Of course, my websites kind of a little darker than some because I like it that way. Some of the stuff that we do whether it's missing persons ... One of the photos in the missing persons section is actually a photo of a little girl hiding inside of an old fireplace in the middle of an old abandoned house and that's actually my own daughter and then for ... In Texas, private investigators can serve [inaudible 00:12:04] warrants. We traveled out to a little town called Milano, Texas, which still has a jail standing from the 1800s, which there's a picture of ... It's actually my wife's hand sitting through the bars handcuffed. Little things like that. It's a personal touch to it.
Ken, what I take from your story about the website building and Google and things like that is, your website is like your real estate, your internet real estate and if you don't have internet real estate, no one's gonna pull over and check out your business. That's the way to look at it. If you're one of these guys and I say this in the most loving terms. If you're one of these old school guys that are like, "Oh, I just go by word of mouth." Well, guess what, you're only gonna have the clients that you've ever had because nowadays, attorneys, they want to have somebody that knows how to do an efiling. They want to have somebody that can do a proof of service, have their proof of service automated and get it back to them within one day at least, at the most. I love all the marketing tips. It's great. Server Nation, Ken has been dropping some major value bombs on us today but prepare yourself because we're heading into the rapid fire round right after a word from our sponsors.
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Server nation welcome back to the show. Ken, are you ready for the rapid-fire round?
Let's do it.
Ken, if you could recommend just one app what would it be and why?
I would suggest having an app for locating folks, whether it be a database to locate, running addresses, licenses, license plates, that sort of thing, to me is one of the most important things to have and then of course, Google maps because without a map, we don't know where we're going.
That's right and I would just plug my favorite map tool, which is Waze app. What is your favorite skip trace tactic and then what is your favorite database?
My favorite skip trace tactic is simply talking. You knock on a door, and they say, "Oh no, he's not here." "Do you know where he's at?" "Yeah, he's at work right now." "Where's he working at?" "Oh, he's working at AT&T." "Oh, which AT&T there's like six of them." "Oh, the one on Main Street." "Oh cool. You think he's there right now?" "Yeah, he said he was going to be home for about two hours." "Cool." That's my favorite.
When you can talk them through because you sound really inquisitive, "Are you for real? Wow, that's cool." What do you when inevitably they say, "Who are you?"
Typically, I'll tell them. I was like, "I'm a process server. I've got court papers for them. It's not anything bad. This is what happened. They just need to take care of it real quick, nothing bad. Happens to me too. Its happened to me. It's no big deal." Keep them talking.
What is your favorite tool for defense?
For defense there are several different tools that I utilize. Typically, a gift of gab is usually one of the best tools you can have for defense. I also wear a body cam for every serve, which not only protects me, it protects them and nobody's gonna question the serve whenever you say, "Oh well just watch the video." I use a Transcend. It's a transcend body ten. They have a couple of different versions out right now but this little sucker, it's waterproof. It's got night vision on it so you can press ... It has one button so you can take a photo while it's still recording.
Oh, that's cool.
Yeah, you can have it right on your chest. You can hold the papers out right in front of the guy, press the button real quick and it snaps a photo. I've been using this since I was a police officer and I got in the habit of pressing that button whenever I was looking at licenses so I'd automatically have it.
So, Ken, I want to drive down a little deeper here. We're almost to the end here. You said about the defense. I want to know more about how you defend yourself.
Well, given my nature, coming from law enforcement end of this, I typically wear body armor to just about every serve and I'm also armed with a firearm as per Texas state law. The reason behind this really has to do because I lost someone I knew, Constable Brian Bachmann. He was serving civil papers, walked up to a door just to serve a notice and he was shot and killed before he even realized what was going on and he's the reason why I make sure that I'm wearing body armor because sadly his family ... It's been several years now and his family's had to live without him and I won't do that to my family. I wore body armor whenever I was a police officer and to me, there's no difference in making a traffic stop... We had to go up to houses all the time as police officers and I wouldn't do it without body armor and a weapon and I don't see a reason why there's any difference now.
No, that's really good. I know a lot of people say, "We're not officers. We're not cops. We're not SWAT. We don't need body armor," things like that but you know, it doesn't hurt to be prepared. That's for sure.
Clarify. On the body armor I wear it's not one of those tactical looking SWAT vests. It's a nice looking over shirt that has our logo on it. The same logo, Ringo's Detective Service. It's something that looks professional. It doesn't look like SWAT or anything tactical.
That's awesome, yeah. Thank you for clarifying. That's true. You don't want to go to the door looking like you're gonna kick it in.
What kind of gun are you packing usually?
I carry a Ruger SR40, which I started out as a police officer carrying Glock's like all the others. During one time whenever we had to use our weapons, I dropped a magazine and it shattered on me and I wasn't happy with that. I carried it for a little longer and then I got promoted to a supervisory position and all the supervisors wore 1911's. Carrying a 1911 for 12 hours, that's not fun. That's a heavy gun. I started looking around for another weapon to replace that with and I looked at the Ruger's to see ... Glock's patent ran out and Ruger basically made a copy. It's a centerfire like the Glock is. Has the same kind of trigger safety on it but it also has a thumb safety on it, which my muscle memory from carrying the 1911, transferred over to this but it's a lot lighter weapon and it's a very accurate weapon and thankfully it fits in the Glock holsters, which the holster I carry is a safari land duty holster that's properly retention level four holster.
That's awesome. Thanks for sharing that. I know a lot of the guys that are gun enthusiasts, they'll appreciate you sharing that knowledge. Ken, what book would you recommend and why?
Well, it depends on where you're at. As far as books go, I think one thing that we should all do is study up on our local laws and to see what laws affect you in your areas because it goes all the way down to city ordinances because you always want to make sure that you're following the laws and making sure that nobody can question the way that you served them.
That's good. Not to make too much light of that but here in Chico, it's illegal to spit on the sidewalk.
We have a law similar to that in Texas. It's actually illegal to walk in the grass when a sidewalk is provided.
Oh wow. I kind of like that one, you know, people walking on your lawn all the time, that sucks. Yeah, that's really important, knowing the laws in your local area, different places you can park, things like that. Different cities have different laws that affect us as processors. That's good Ken. Thank you. What is the greatest advice you've ever received?
It's kind of a weird one but it's ... My dad, he always told us that you've got to work for everything that you want. Everything that you do, you need to put in all your effort and the way he always would tell us was whenever I was a kid, whenever I would go out hunting for jobs, he would tell us, "You need to just go up there, tell them what you want to do and offer to work that day and give him a reason to want you." I kind of took that to hear and ever since then that's something that I always have done with clients, attorneys, what have you. I've given them a chance to try out what I can do. Give them a reason to want me. I think that's probably my best advice, is what my dad always told them. Give them a reason to want you.
That's great advice ken.
The same aspect, I would not be the person I am today if it wasn't for my wife. She's the one that pushed me to be a police officer. She's the one that pushed me to start this business and Ringo's Detective Service would not be Ringo's Detective service without her. So, as silly as it sounds, both those two are my mentors.
That's great Ken. Keep it close to the vest, that's for sure. Having your wife backing you up in your business is big time. My wife backs me up as well and definitely better for it. Ken, what would you do if you woke up today, had all the same skills and knowledge, had no clients, a smart phone, a car, and only $100, what would you do in the next week.
I would go park myself in downtown near the courthouse, where all the attorneys are and I would walk up and down every street, go inside, and introduce myself, and tell them what I can do to help their business. That's how I got started in the first place. I spent every penny I had getting this business started. We were down to our last hundred bucks. I was able to make us some business cards. We had some business cards made up, me and wife. We went into every attorney's office that we could find in town, asked to talk to the receptionist and then to the attorney and say, "Hey, this is us. This is what we can do," and I think I would follow that again because that's worked so well.
That's a great story. I Love that, just getting out there and pounding the pavement, going and talking to attorneys, going in the courthouse, that's all good stuff Ken. What do you want Server Nation to take from your story and what would be your parting piece of advice?
Don't give up. Don't let other people tell you that, "Oh, well, you should be doing it my way because my ways working for me." Get out there. Do it a way that you're comfortable with. Work the way you're comfortable with but in the same aspect, stay safe because there's always gonna be somebody out there that cares for you, that's gonna want to talk to you tomorrow and if you're not being safe out there ... This goes all the way don to not just worrying about what's on the other side of that door but worry about what's creeping around the corner on four legs that may come after you. It's being aware of your surroundings but in the same aspect, don't give up if you're having a slow month, you're having a slow week, or even a slow year. Things will pick up and in those times that you have nothing else to do, go out, talk to attorneys. See if there's somebody out there that may need your help.
I love your story. I want to personally thank you for coming on the show. I'm impressed with your story and I'm excited to share it with the world. What is the best way that we can connect with you and then we can say goodbye.
You can find me on Facebook. It's www.Facebook.com/DetectiveRingo. You can find us online at www.Detectiveringo.com. We're on Google plus, which is also Detective Ringo, just #DetectiveRingo, you'll find us. We're on Instagram. That'd be the best way to contact us. It's Ken@detectiveringo.com.
Until next time Server Nation, you've been served up some awesomeness by Detective Ringo and Mighty Mike, the podcast server!