Oakland Private Investigators launch friendship on the field


HILLS NEWSPAPERS: March 25, 2011

You can learn a lot about trust on a rugby field. It may sound simplistic but it’s the foundation that forged Spencer Elrod Services, a new private investigation partnership in the hills.

Mike Spencer and Jeremy Elrod first met as teammates for the Walnut Creek Gaels in 2000. Elrod had just graduated from Piedmont High and Spencer was a private investigator — a field he got into after leaving the newspaper business for a job as a workers’ compensation investigator in 1994. It didn’t take much time for the two men to recognize that they had each others’ backs.

“When you play rugby,” says Elrod “there are certain guys you are lifelong friends with. You can always count on them.” The younger Elrod looked to Spencer as a leader. “He was a guy who had his stuff together and would take the time to help you.” Spencer, on the other hand, saw a spark in his teammate that he couldn’t ignore. “Jeremy was just this fiery, hotheaded kid running all over the rugby field.” They learned to count on each other until Elrod made a life-changing decision to join the Army.

“It was right after 9-11,” he says. “My best friend was a Marine and he called and said he was going overseas. I wasn’t comfortable with my best friend fighting a war for me, so I enlisted.” Elrod became an elite Army Ranger, highly trained for the toughest assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Little did he know he’d be training for a partnership with Spencer — a job that uses many of the same skills.

Take the investigation into a recent police shooting, for instance: “Jeremy has a background in firearms training and can provide insight — a grasp into what may have happened,” says Spencer.

Together they find missing people and serve restraining orders. Sometimes they’re together for days, driving all over the state to do something like repossess a vehicle. Not a problem for a man whose Ranger indoctrination program included a 12-mile march, a five-mile run and a battery of grueling challenges designed to test a soldier’s mettle.

“They basically wore you out,” says Elrod, “and once you were tired you’d have to do another test.” The Rangers wanted candidates who weren’t going to quit — under any circumstances. No matter the assignment, they expected you to get it done.

It’s that kind of can-do spirit that drives Spencer Elrod Services. “We want to bring a new level of professionalism to private investigations,” says Spencer, who says they’re still involved in rugby too. (Spencer helps coach the Oakland Warthogs High School team and Elrod helps coach Piedmont Rugby.) Whether it’s on the battlefield, the rugby field or in the field of investigative services — team work and trust get the job done.

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