#78: Colorado Private Investigator Licensing Senate Bill 14-133. Why I Think Its Bad for New Private Investigators

I reported on the new bill/law attempting to be passed in Colorado after reading the Denver Private Investigator Blog.  After thoroughly reading the blog article I searched around for more information on it and there wasn’t an incredible amount written about it.  No one was writing how they were either against it or for it other than the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado or the PPIAC.  I kind of felt like it was quietly taking place.

It was only  July 1, 2013 when a new law was put into place allowing for private investigators working in the state of Colorado to voluntarily apply for a license.  Apparently out of the entire state only 84 investigators  held a license at the end of 2013, leaving a $40,000 dollar short fall for the licensing program.  I believe the voluntary licensing was a gateway to the eventual mandatory licensing in Colorado.

Senate Bill 14-133

I did not read the entire bill.  I however I read title 12-58.5-106. [Formerly 12-58.5-105] Private investigator licenses – qualifications – fees – renewal – rules. More specifically line 15 through 27.

To summarize what is in this section of the bill, it basically states that there will be two levels of a mandatory private investigator’s license.

Level One Private Investigator License requires the following:

  • Must be 21 years of age.
  • Must be lawfully present in the United States.
  • Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the laws and rules by passing an examination created and approved by the director.

Level Two Private Investigator License requirements:

  • Have all the requirements of the Level One Private Investigator License
  • Have a verifiable amount of experience that relates to that of a private investigator

What Are Others Saying about Senate Bill 14-133 in Colorado

The Colorado Private Investigator Blog

The Colorado Private Investigator Blog gave an unbiased reporting of Senate Bill 14-133 however a few things were reported that I had concern with. 

The blog reported that the licensing program was currently running a $40,000 deficit.  This would basically mean that it currently does not pay for itself to exist.  This is likely due to the lack of participation in the voluntary licensing program that currently exists.  With a mandatory licensing law one would assume that the program would pay for itself.

The second thing is the blog quoted state Sen.  Linda Newell (who is the strongest supporter of the bill) as saying she views licensing private investigators as, “protecting the industry and honoring the profession.”  She also states she, “has heard stories of private investigators coming here who can’t practice elsewhere.”

In regards to the two levels of Private Investigator’s Licenses the blog writes, “Such a system would enable customers to know the level of experience of the investigators they’re considering hiring, and would be a guide to what the investigators would charge, with more experienced investigators presumably charging higher fees.”

Licensing a private investigator is more than honoring the profession.  Licensing should have nothing to do with that.  A licensing program should ensure that those who are involved in the profession understand the laws that surround it which I believe would in turn protect the general public (assuming the private investigators followed the law). 

Secondly, the hearsay of stories where private investigators come to Colorado because they can’t practice elsewhere is a curious statement as I have a difficult time finding any information on her statement.  If someone doesn’t meet the requirements of a state’s private investigator licensing program because of experience then why not go to a state like Colorado or Idaho to start a business. Her statement sounds more like individuals were coming to Colorado because they had done something bad or illegal as a private investigator in another state so they were flocking to Colorado. 

In regards to letting the customers know the level of experience a private investigator has which would inevitabley affect the fees a private investigator charges is very concerning.  Having 5 years of experience as a private investigator does not mean you are better than the investigator who has been in business for 5 months.  I don’t believe this should be up to the law makers to distinguish investigators based off their experience.  If it is up to them then why not distinguish every profession like carpenters, cabinet makers, carpet installers etc…  Make every business have licensing levels. 

Private Investigator DislikesHere is what I think licensing levels will do in Colorado

Any new private investigation business will struggle and likely not stay in business very long if they have to publicly share how much experience they have in the industry.  In turn this will allow for those with experience to dominate the market as they have been able to build up experience over the years without a licensing program and will have the benefit of being listed as an experienced investigator.  I haven’t checked all the licensing requirements for every state but I can tell you this is not the norm.

So by having the two levels of licensing they will get the licensing fees which will pay for the program however the veterans in the industry won’t have to really compete with those that are listed with a level 1 license.   

But we want to protect the consumers in Colorado

Consumers have to do their due diligence when picking a private investigator just like they do with picking any other thing. Customers can do a bit of research, check the Better Business Bureau, get word of mouth recommendations and conduct general searches on the internet.  I don’t believe the private investigator licensing level has anything to do with protecting consumers.  Even experienced private investigators have been known to conduct crappy investigations and look for a quick pay check.

The Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado (PPIAC) had some things to say about the bill as well. 

In a post by the association they give an update on the licensing bill.  They make the bill very easy to understand for those unfamiliar with it.

In the “No Barriers” section they write, “Another key provision of the proposed law is that PIs with more experience might consider applying for a “Level II” license.  It doesn’t cost any more than a “Level I”, but it does designate you as a person with a certain amount of experience and/or training (that amount will be determined by DORA during its rule making phase).  This provision in the bill was specifically designed to reward private investigators that spend years honing their craft.   It is very important to acknowledge experience, and we believe this does just that.”

The portion that states, “This provision in the bill was specifically designed to reward private investigators that spend years honing their craft.   It is very important to acknowledge experience, and we believe this does just that.” This what I would take issue with.  I think this goes to show how this licensing program isn’t designed to be fair to anyone other than the veterans who are already established in the state of Colorado.  The statement in my opinion does not reflect well on the industry either.

Business licenses and professional licenses can be checked by consumers.  In the state of Washington you can see how long someone has been licensed for and how long they have been in business.  This is public information. 

My final thoughts on Senate Bill 14-133 for private investigator licensing

I think across the board licensing is an excellent thing to have in any state.  It helps to ensure that those who have businesses in this industry have an understanding of the law when working in this profession.  I hope that Colorado does pass a mandatory licensing law at some point.

I think that those who had influence on this bill were thinking a bit more about themselves and that reflects in the different levels of licensing.  With different levels of licensing they don’t have more competition in their state then they already have.  It will be very difficult for the new investigator with a new business to sell their services especially if they have to designate themselves as a lesser experienced investigator (even if they are better than the “experienced” investigators).

It’s difficult enough in this industry to gain experience and get started.  I consistently see emails from those around the world trying to get started, get experience or even start a private investigation business. This bill only really benefits existing private investigators in the state of Colorado.

I am not a stake holder in this state. I am a licensed investigator and business owner in the state of Washington. I believe this proposed bill is not good for the profession as a whole.  If the levels were removed I wouldn’t have much to write about. 

Why can’t you just have a licensing program that licenses everyone the same way? 

 

 

4 comments

  1. I am one of many victims of the lax position on regulating private investigators which the state of Colorado has facilitated.

    You talk about consumers doing their due diligence before they hire a pi, but the victims are rarely the consumer who hire the pi. I didn’t hire a pi. The pi was hired to serve my father, who was in the hospital on his death bed and the pi admitted that he was intentionally torturing me and my family in hopes to get to my father.

    You talk about the barrier to entry for new private investigators, and the different levels of licensing. If you look at prior years bills these issues were addressed and the opposition used these points as their basis for opposing the bills.

    The different levels of licensing simply restricts access to certain data, like social security numbers. I am not a pi, and I have no reason to need detailed information on individuals, but I was able to gain access to a popular pi database and I can look up anyone’s ssn, dob, utility records, etc.

    Private investigators have been run over, and shot and killed. If pi’s were licensed and required to be lawful citizens pi’s would not be in the same danger they are in today.

    • I am sorry that happened to you and your family Elizabeth. The different levels of licensing (which has since been dismissed since writing this)has nothing to do with access of information. You were misinformed if someone told you this. All private investigators (for the most part)need access to the information you speak about.

      If you reread my article you will see that I am not against licensing what so ever. I am against their reason for attempting to make different levels of private investigation business licenses.

      Licensing does not prevent private investigators from being dirt bags. There will still be plenty of bad private investigators after licensing eventually is mandatory in Colorado.

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