About the World Association of Detectives

With origins dating back to 1921, W.A.D. is the longest established and largest association of its kind in the world.

The History of W.A.D.

By Bob Heales, Historian

The World Association of Detectives was founded in 1925. In 1950, the World Secret Service Association, Inc. was formed as a joint venture by the combined membership of the International Secret Service Association (founded in 1921) and the World Association of Detectives. At our annual conference in August 1966 in San Antonio, Texas, USA, our present name was unanimously approved by amendment, reverting to the name of “World Association of Detectives.”

As we approach 100 years, I have to wonder, what would our founders think? I still remember my first conference very vividly. After all, one’s first trip to Hawaii isn’t something you easily forget. Some of the members I met in 1983 had already been members for 25 years or longer, real legends in our industry. As a 28 year old fairly new to the business, I was so impressed to be able to meet these people from so many different countries.

The stories were never ending. Stanley Smith was so proud of the 1966 Conference in San Antonio where WAD history was created. I guess W.A.D. history is created at every conference and everyone has their favorite story. Jerry Poth helped organize the Hawaii Conference. He recalled several stories about the 1973 Conference in Seattle. Hal Lipset and Vance Morris recalled a recent conference in Hong Kong and how they put it on with short notice due to an emergency change. We had many Italians in attendance. Ernesto Manzini and Raniero Rossi had just hosted the group in Rome the year before. Sam Webster, Mike McHenry and Mike Pascal were campaigning hard for 3rd Vice President. They all had suites and the night before the election we went from suite to suite enjoying the free food and cocktails.

Incoming President Henry Bawa was getting ready to host us in New Delhi in 1984, and Matti Westerholm was looking forward to running for President in Tulsa in 2 years. Neal Holmes, Sr. was supporting the delegation from Singapore who had invited us there for the fantastic 1986 conference in a beautiful land.

Kadish Shermister and David Almog were twisting our arms to go to Israel. We had a wonderful and memorable conference in Jerusalem in 1987. Who can ever forget Joe Vinson, Sr. serving as President while in Hawaii and what a wonderful impression he made on everyone. And then there was Norman Sloan. What can I say about Norman that hasn’t already been said? He served as Executive Director back in the days when all you had on your desk was a calculator, legal pad and entry journal. W.A.D. was his life and nobody ran the business of W.A.D. better.

These men are gone now. Over the years others have had to step in to fill their shoes. Yes, they are gone, but W.A.D. has moved forward as the oldest and largest international association of private investigators and security professionals. All you have to do is look at the first few pages of the membership directory and look at the names of the people who have made that possible, the officers, the directors, the area governors and especially the past presidents who are listed in perpetuity.

As much as we miss those friends, we cherish those who filled their shoes, as well as many of the newer members who have become dear friends, many like family. All you have to do is attend a couple of meetings to understand. In 1983 I never imagined we would get to visit such wonderful places as Australia, Amsterdam, Bermuda, The Canary Islands, Moscow, Tokyo, Greece, and so many more outside of my home country of the United States.

In the words of our Past President Richard Jacques-Turner, “W.A.D. remains the foremost International Association of Professional Investigators and Security Service organizations. We have the history and strength to give the best service to our members. The inexorable march of data protection legislation has created a minefield that lies in wait for even the most experienced investigator, particularly those engaged in international work. If you are involved in international investigations then you need W.A.D. to help you. W.A.D. also needs your help in order to strengthen our profession. A larger membership means a stronger voice when dealing with legislators and more money to fight restrictive legislation.”

Now is your chance to mark your place in W.A.D. history, either by joining, or if already a member, by attending one of our upcoming conferences or mid-term meetings. Don’t miss this experience!

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