The glamorous and grimy private eye of detective novels and mystery movies doesn't exist, according to an organization of investigators who say they're no Sam Spades or Jim Rockfords.

"The private investigator has always had the image of a carefree, devil-may-care individual, someone who sometimes skirts the law," said Alan Crowe, an investigator from Portland, Ore."People think we're a bunch of ex-police officers," said Kitty Robinson, an investigator from Haddonfield, N.J., "with a brush cut, a pot belly, a double-knit polyester suit with two rows of white stripes in a green background, and chafe marks under the left arm to show people we've been wearing a gun."

Robinson and Crowe are among 225 investigators meeting this weekend in Philadelphia to network, attend seminars and conduct testing for a continuing program of certification.

"A private investigator is an average person who's a professional," Robinson said.