Opposing PI Licensing in Colorado – Is it personal or professional?

As I stand back and watch the two groups involved in the licensing debate trade barbs over different points, one thing becomes clear to me.  This is not about whether opponents oppose licensing.  It is about people that oppose PPIAC.  

In a recent blog article that was written by Ryan Ross, an opponent of licensing, the opposition decided to get down in the mud and defame the character of the leader of PPIAC.  What a true display of unprofessionalism and petty opinion.  

If the opposition is trying to position itself as “representative of a majority view PI licensing in Colorado”, then I think they need to come up with some answers themselves instead of throwing a bunch of nonsense out there.  I wonder to myself how many PIs the opposing group represents.  My guess is that it is less than 50.  Rick Johnson and his CSPI group has a few dozen members.  Bob O’Block has never listed (in public) who he represents and I suspect he has less than CSPI.  Other fringe groups like retired cops and federal agents are probably less than 5% of the total number of PIs in Colorado.  

Johnson was a former President of PPIAC and championed licensing in Colorado.  He even drafted a very strong bill that would have hurt a lot of small PIs (which when I saw it, was disappointed in).  And I know that Johnson got sideways with PPIAC and left the organization amid a lot of hurt feelings.  And so he has made it a crusade to bash PPIAC whenever possible.  

So I ask you.  Is this whole push against licensing a crusade to protect the industry and the consumer?  Or is it a crusade to defeat the PPIAC?  Based upon what I have seen so far in the blogs and the listserv, it is the latter.  

I don’t do a lot of investigating these days.  But I’ve been around this industry for a long time.  I don’t belong to either organization because of the petty politics that are always present in any group like this.  Everyone has an agenda and everyone has a personal opinion.  Just like me.  But I have friends in both groups and I hear what people are saying. And it is clear to me what Johnson and O’block are trying to do.  

I wonder if its clear to you, too?  I wonder if you (as a professional) enjoy being represented by someone that does not have your best interest at heart and is merely using YOU as the “reason” to oppose licensing…when you are merely a means to an end: Ruining PPIAC and anything it stands for.  

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19 comments
  1. Michael said:

    I don’t know you. I fully admit that I don’t know all of the dynamics or politics involved, but I have been doing this for a pretty long time. (18 years this year.)

    While I agree that personal attacks do nothing to further the debate and conversation, I know that the PPIAC ran the campaign for investigator licensure as a voluntary program. Considering that there are rumors that the licensing program is running well into the red ink – it became apparent that a lot folks didn’t flock to join up merely proves that PPIAC didn’t really speak for me or the folks I work with.

    I support the voluntary aspect of licensure if other investigators think it’s necessary for them.

    But when I came across SB 14-133, I was disappointed and shook my head. I knew … back when licensing was being proposed as voluntary … that eventually there would be a movement to make it mandatory.

    Why? Why does there need to be mandatory licensing for investigators?

    Your argument and those quoted in support of the measure decry that it’s going to “protect the profession.” How? Are armed guards going to protect me as I go into the courthouse or out to interview witnesses? No. Of course not. So how is mandatory licensing going to protect my 18 years of investigation work?

    A lot of us – probably yourself included – get business by those that know the kind of work we do. If we do a good job, we get more business. If we don’t, well – the market has a place for those folks too.

    Bottom line: I don’t need to shell out $1,000 for a license that doesn’t protect my profession or my business. I’m simply not going to buy into a system that doesn’t do any good for anyone. This isn’t a slam on PPIAC nor is it a personal attack on any of the individuals who brought it to become a law as it is. It’s a matter of logically and rationally wondering exactly what we get for $1,000 of our hard earned money.

  2. The change of licensure from mandatory to voluntary was by bill sponsor Rep. Bob Gardner. No stakeholders suggested this and Rep. Gardner would not budge from voluntary. Sen. Newell, who reluctantly sponsored mandatory and agreed to the amendment to voluntary, has stated this multiple times over the past couple years. For some unknown reason, those opposed to licensure fought a hard battle against voluntary – never figured out why it mattered if it didn’t matter. The current mandatory fiscal note does not reflect near $1,094 for licensure. Of course, as happening now in MD (for process servers), DORA (and MD’s equivalent) has full control of costs and fees, which cannot be set in statute as most other states can. As to other concerns – from consumer protection to enhancing our professionalism – this is best accomplished through through reasonable mandatory licensure and fees, to include background checks and verified experience. Even those that have opposed only the last few years, while being licensed in another state for more than a decade, had arguments of consumer protection and professionalism – all of which they hypocritically have opposing and insincere positions now.

  3. Michael said:

    ” For some unknown reason, those opposed to licensure fought a hard battle against voluntary – never figured out why it mattered if it didn’t matter. ”

    I wasn’t part of the political process, so I don’t know who “those opposed” you’re referring to.

    I can only tell you that from my experience, once you establish yourself as a “voluntary” system, then the next step would be to promote, advocate or otherwise force for a “mandatory” system.

    Again, at least in Colorado, there’s no benefit for the PI to license themselves. I understand the argument for “consumer protection and professionalism,” but a license isn’t going to protect either issue. What this does open the door to is to force PI’s to get their own insurance if they are ever sued. Then we have to abide by what the insurance carrier’s rules and regulations are … and eventually squeezing more money out of the PI’s business.

    Unless there has been a tremendous surge of rabid, unethical, immoral folks pretending to be PI’s – then I’m not seeing the need to force PI’s into a mandatory system that is only meant to make it harder to earn a living. My credential are known and I get references based on folks knowing how I operate. If I’m “forced” to do mandatory licensing, then I have no alternative than to pass along that added cost to my clients. To them, the extra money is a big deal to them and it prices me higher with the competition.

    Mandatory licensing is unnecessary and if folks want to voluntarily spend $1,000 a year to protect the consumer and have that professional seal on their letterhead, that’s your choice. It’s not worth it to those that work with indigent clients all the time who are already struggling financially.

  4. The opposed are the same – some are opposed simply because they oppose any licensing or regulation (I’m actually more understanding of a flat position – but then they continually try to qualify it with various reasons their once opponents, now collaborators, shot down – and for good reason (though, those flip-floppers now use the same qualifying mythical arguments). Others it depends on the smoke screen they hide behind for that day. However, contrasting that to past positions of support and even introducing bills makes all their position moot for those paying attention and not drinking their Kool-Aid. A little research into this can go a long way. Rep. Gardner opposed and opposes mandatory – that is why he drafted voluntary. It is that simple. Voluntary did and does have its benefits. As to a history of consumer protection – ask the opposed – it is the argument they had before in support and drafting mandatory, but they argue in opposition now as if they never had taken said position. FYI – voluntary will be repealed this legislative session. So, either Colorado has no licensing (that is the hope of the opposed) or a reasonable mandatory licensing program (reasonable would include reasonable fees – of which $640 or $1100 is not; the two most recent renewals of voluntary).

  5. Michael said:

    Dean,

    I’m not opposed to licensing. I would throw my full weight behind a measure that I can believe in, but when there’s talk about “protecting consumers” and “professionalism” as your main preambles for the current legislative push, then it’s a bit ironic to project a “smoke screen” argument when there’s no discernible benefit for the investigator.

    I did do a little homework and found that the current 13SB133 removes the voluntary provision and makes it mandatory.
    http://legiscan.com/CO/text/SB133/2014

    The mandatory language has stayed in and has been forwarded to the Finance Committee.

    I understand that Rep. Gardner opposes mandatory licensing which is fine, but the bill continues to move forward.

    What little benefit was in the original SB133 (i.e. additional access to records) has been stricken and is no longer part of the bill. That’s a very clear sign to me that the legislature is fine if we want to form a little fan club and call ourselves investigator, but we’re not going to get any additional benefit or access than John Q Public. No clout. No access. No powers. But a huge milking process to “protect consumers” and “professionalism.”

    It doesn’t add up.

    Keeping it a voluntary program still allows those that are willing to invest to be able to include the word “licensed” – is something that makes it about choice. I do a lot of indigent advocacy who have no money. Those folks need representation and our services just as much as the wife who can afford to hire us to spy on her cheating husband.

    It’s lopsided. It punishes those that believe in doing what’s right for your clients – by saying: “gosh, if only you had money to hire us, I could really dazzle you with my new ‘license’ header on my business card.” Because in the end, clients don’t really care how well credentialed we are as long as we get them the results they’re looking for.

    The licensing process needs to have a benefit for the investigator … and not just an ongoing monetary “privilege” to be considered a private investigator.

  6. Yes, voluntary is stripped in SB133, it has to be; there is a separate bill to repeal voluntary – and it will pass. SB133 did not have anything about records – that was in voluntary and stripped in committee because it cannot be authorized in statute (records are the executive branch). But — you cannot request or grant any access, or exemptions, for PIs if you do not define a PI in statute – otherwise everyone is a PI. This is also at the federal level where permissible purposes / exemptions are beginning to include for PIs licensed in the state in which they conduct business. In a couple weeks I will be in DC meeting Reps, Senators and aides to talk about this growing issue, and others. Its a catch 22 – to get clout you have to have clout. Like the chicken or the egg – where did it and where does it begin?

    Rep. Gardner is not part of this or last year’s process – Sen. Newell was the voluntary co-sponsor (when it started as mandatory) and has been the bill sponsor that reached out to stakeholders last year and this year. I see consumer protection, I think it is pretty obvious.

  7. Michael said:

    “SB133 did not have anything about records…” Yes it was:

    “12-58.5-102. Legislative declaration.
    The general assembly hereby finds that in order to protect the citizens of the state, and allow private investigators access to public records …” (page 3/27)

    It was in the bill and was stripped out.

    I understand the complexities of access and such. If at the very least, partial clout could’ve come from such a bill that would’ve been a significant first step towards legitimacy. Again – the bill does not afford investigators any greater access or privileges than what existed before licensing. Simply put , the bill, the mandatory requirement has absolutely no benefit for the investigator.

    To say again, I’m not against having a licensing requirement as long as there’s some sort of benefit for the investigator. If there’s no clout, no access and no privilege or recognized force that comes with the license, then I’m spending $1k of my hard earned money for a card that doesn’t do anything except allow me the “privilege” to work as an investigator. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years in the state of Colorado. I’ve been a mentor, trainer and now specialize in my particular area. To say the least, I’m a bit repulsed that I now have to fork over $1k a year for the “privilege” of doing the work I do, selflessly, tirelessly, behind the scenes so that the attorneys look good in court. I work 60 hour weeks, I travel extensively, I give out a hell of a lot more than I submit when I bill them.

    I do it for my client, Dean.

    The licensing process a slap on the face. It’s a blatant disrespect to those that have fought the various battles in the trenches and those that I have worked with the last two decades. So when I’m saying: “what’s in it for the investigator” I’m not trying to be flippant or dismissive. I’m merely pointing out that the bill doesn’t accomplish anything. That’s why I think the bills have been their own smoke screen of sorts.

    But you have raised the need for consumer protection a couple times now, so I’ll ask again, where is the insurgence of investigator misconduct? Where’s the outcry? Where is this loud and apparent need to protect the consumer? Can I see some data that supports the need for consumer protection when it comes to investigative work?

    Could the entire “consumer protection” process be nothing more than a ruse used to force investigators out of business so as to “trim the herd” so to speak? Then that way we can raise our rates because the bill effectively adversely changes the supply and demand equation?

  8. I don’t recall seeing that language (I also didn’t look for or expect it). That language, to me, represents title protection – defining a PI so that they may be granted statutory permissible purposes and exemptions (which cannot be done in CO – see my previous post); and I would agree with this language. Regardless, it represents the actions of legislative committees – I have seen amendments added in committee, only to watch that legislator vote it out. I think it is safe to say that we all give more than we bill and it is for our clients and colleagues. What are you spending $1K on? Voluntary is optional – don’t spend the money. If you’re looking at mandatory – the fiscal note is not near $1K; fees cannot be set in statute, DORA sets those – and they do take whatever numbers they wish (contrary to the Kool-Aid, DORA did not use any numbers given to them by any associations, nor did DORA actually do any research – until this year – previously they pulled numbers out of their hat). An opponent will say there are 300 PIs in CO – but then say that 400 oppose mandatory licensing (the same number, strangely, opposed voluntary). What is in it for the PI? As you said, you (we) have been in the trenches. I am interviewed frequently by opposing party counsel – and it always comes up about licensing in CO and it becomes quite an argument that a PI is not a PI without a license. Its not whether or not this has merit – it is simply what takes place from states with licensing and expectations. I have testified in CO as an expert – and then not allowed to regarding any investigative protocols because CO does not have licensing.
    Why do we support reasonable mandatory licensure of professional investigators in Colorado? Here is my synopsis in support of reasonable mandatory licensing and fees:
    — To demonstrate that we are vetted by the Colorado Department of Regulatory agencies (experience is verified and all must pass a fingerprint CBI criminal record check)
    — Eases the burden of qualification on attorneys and other clients
    — For consumer protection (being licensed in another state offers no consumer protection in Colorado, but was necessary to PIs for records access and credibility before this program)
    — For continued access to records and databases (exceptions are increasingly more common to be given to those licensed within the states they do business)
    — To be on an equal plane as our licensed investigator colleagues
    — For the above recognitions and distinctions that licensing provides as a professional
    Consumer protection is not a ruse. It was not a ruse 20, 15, 10 or 5 years ago – it became a ‘ruse’ only when licensing was no longer the idea of those now opposed. DORA, it all of its reviews, found consumer protection issues – even during voluntary licensure (but, because those complained against were not licensed, DORA had no jurisdiction – just as another state has no jurisdiction over PI misconduct in CO. If you dig up past DORA reviews, that will give you some ideas. We all know most are not reported, just as many crimes are not reported to police. As an analogy, if attorneys were not licensed, all of those complaints would be ignored, unreported or tie up an already overwhelmed judicial system. I’m not a fan of regulation, but I do see the pros and cons of mandatory licensure.

  9. Michael said:

    Dean,

    “What are you spending 1k on? Voluntary is optional – don’t spend the money.”

    You’re right, it is voluntary and I have opted not to. Why? There hasn’t been any forseeable benefit for me to do so. It doesn’t grant me any more privileges than my driver’s license does.

    If the bill becomes mandatory, I will have to spend $1k, $5k, $500, or $50 right? I got the $1k from what the current fees as reported on DORA’s website. I recognize that it’s DORA that sets the rate and I’m still having an extremely hard time justifying what I get with the mandatory licensing “benefits” regardless of what DORA charges us for licenses each year.

    ” I am interviewed frequently by opposing party counsel – and it always comes up about licensing in CO and it becomes quite an argument that a PI is not a PI without a license.”

    I’ve testified several times before as well. Whether or not we get qualified as an expert also depends on how well your attorney establishes your credentials. As you already proved, you don’t need to have a license to be established an expert witness in the state of Colorado. If the attorney doesn’t do a good job trying to establish your credentials or you crash if opposing counsel voir dires your credentials, then you’re not an expert. A license doesn’t change that. Besides, it’s such a narrow argument to make anyway. No benefit.

    To demonstrate we’re vetted? Easing the burden of qualifications? Licensing means we have taken classes, worked cases and got fingerprinted. It doesn’t prove how well of an investigator we are. It doesn’t prove anything about our qualifications. It doesn’t prove anything else beyond that.

    Why?

    Because our reputations get us the work we receive. Our reputations is what keeps new business coming in. Our reputations can harm us as well. If we screw up, the market handles that and we lose business. That’s why you and I stand behind our work product and work tirelessly on behalf of our clients.

    No license determines that.
    No license can monitor that.
    No license can distinguish us apart.
    No license can tell attorney’s if you’re good with technology or if I’m good at children interviews.

    Our reputations do that.
    Our record does that.
    Our references do that.

    If folks want to hire Joe Squat on the street then they clearly didn’t do their homework. It’s not my responsibility, yours or DORA’s to inform the public if we have met someone’s set criteria of what THEY think makes a good investigator. I know some folks that will qualify for investigation licensing that I wouldn’t trust on my case so it provides a false sense of security that somehow the consumer is going to be protected. Just like how you can get ripped off by a plumber – and they are also licensed – the same is true for the proposed investigator licensing. Merely having a license doesn’t prove that you’re any good.

    I would appreciate the DORA stuff if you get a chance. If there’s an inordinate amount of complaints against investigators then I’d like to know how bad the situation is. I don’t hear about it – and that could be because I’m in the criminal justice side of things. One other quick note, doesn’t this also mean that all of us would have to get additional insurance coverage that handles malpractice related issues? So in addition to pounding out the work we’re doing, now we have to ensure that we’re feeding the regulatory folks as well when we get grieved as well? Great, more money to shell out. Attorneys will still need to cover us anyway – even if we are licensed.

    I’m sorry – and here’s where we’ll probably have to agree to disagree, but I’m simply not buying that licensing is going to get us anywhere. Our records access has diminished and we can’t go forward for more access, clout and other privileges that one would expect from shelling out money towards a useless license. We’re no better off than we were before.

    I see it as a money grab for overcharging our clients because now we have the justification to do so: “see? I have license, $150/hr starts now.”

  10. You can’t take a voluntary program of less than 100 (or probably less than 50 currently) at $1,000 and expect the same – DORA’s current fiscal note is not 1/2 of that. I don’t have the DORA complaints – they do, all I have is what they have shared in summary. I can appreciate disagreement based on a position, agree to disagree so to speak. As for money grab, how? That’s a free market issue based on many factors – licensing, for any I know, has nothing to do with it. I know of no one who has or would change fees based on licensing or not. But, if people want to see it as okay for a convicted felon to have access to and conduct background investigations, so be it. I have one email shared with me noting such an inmate’s intent to do so upon release. Licensing is not about reputation – never has been. I have addressed why it is about consumer protection and integrity of our profession. Of course reasonable fees are part of reasonableness.

  11. Michael said:

    Dean,

    What the licensing options do is create even more work for the investigator. It means we now need to find an insurer that will help us secure a bond (thanks for that info). It also means we need to retain some sort of counsel to address grievances when they come in. This does not lessen nor improve things for the investigator.

    If DORA has the complaints and won’t turn it over for public consumption then we don’t really know the scope of what concern for the public *actually* exists. It would seem that those that are using the public concern as a vehicle for licensing, then having some data and information would be prudent.

    So far, I have yet to hear a compelling argument for licensing to be substantiated by the facts.

    To address the money grab issue: licensed plumbers charge more – why? Because they’re supposed to be bonded and insured to work on your pipes. It costs more for them because of the bond and insurance they need to do their job. It also becomes their “justification” for charging more. “The state of Colorado recognizes I’m a licensed plumber, therefore I have no problem charging you $80/hr for my services.”

    It doesn’t mean that they are good. It doesn’t mean they will do a good job. But they charge exorbitantly higher than your normal handyman who doesn’t have to be bonded and insured (as far as I can tell.) Does that mean the handyman is going to get arrested if they do plumbing in our homes? No. It doesn’t.

    But even if the handyman does a shoddy job, I still have legal recourse through civil litigation. It’s no different for anyone that hires a private investigator and feels like they got a shoddy job as well. The recourse is already there and has been all along.

    You asked in the other thread how many grievances I was actually aware of. If the number of actual grievances is so low it hardly is mentioned, then that doesn’t support the need for private investigator licensing. The lack of grievances would suggest that folks (by and large) don’t have issues with investigators in Colorado that they might in other states like California or Florida.

    I realize you’re dead set that this is a good thing for investigators. I hear your arguments, but they don’t amount to anything that’s going to help us (individually or as a profession.) There’s no way to verify the complaints DORA has received or to believe they exist except for the summary you apparently have received. There’s no compelling reason anyone who has an investigation practice to throw their support behind a bill that’s only going to add a lot more red tape, a lot more frustration and stress — while getting nothing back in return.

  12. My point – some say that complaints can be handled in the judicial system – still need to hire counsel; administrative proceedings are cheaper to litigate. Regardless of number of complaints, its a venue for dispute resolution and keeping those that should not be out of the profession – our profession. Auto mechanics are not licensed – but they charge as much as licensed plumbers. A bond is as easy to find as your home or auto insurance company. It is not even $1 per billable hour for a license – probably not even 50c. I simply support the basic tenets of reasonable licensure and reasonable fees. What do PIs do that move to a state with licensing – argue it and ask for an exemption?

  13. Michael said:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but there’s already an administrative proceeding process available. When attorneys hire us – we become agents of that attorney and the work we do fall under the work product of the attorney/client privilege. As such, attorneys are also ultimately responsible for the work that we do – as it’s our job to help protect their law license. Attorneys then have their own malpractice insurance and there’s an entire grieving process by which the concerned public can then protect themselves.

    So there’s already a process in place for those investigators that are contracted out by attorneys to do work. An investigator that screws up on an attorney’s case might not find any more work because once word gets out that the attorney was screwed because of investigator conduct – that investigator’s name is mud. Again, one’s reputation helps establish the market and helps consumers naturally without the need of an administrative process.

    Now – if someone wants to hire you to track down their long lost sibling and you want to have all of these protection controls for that … then I have no issue with that because that’s not where my business practice falls. It seems completely excessive with no benefit to the investigator.

    Your last point … does in no way guarantee an investigator that once they’re licensed in one state – that they will be appropriately and automatically credentialed in the other state. Oftentimes the rules and laws govern investigators differently and would be difficult to accept someone from California who wasn’t familiar with Colorado law.

  14. You are correct and make a good point – we have a free book available to PIs that cover their ethical responsibilities with attorneys. However, most PIs – and cases of wrongdoing – involve private citizens who do not know where to go. Some associations have ethics that also cover this – but unless the investigator is a member, there is nothing to be done and associations cannot mete out any more than membership discipline. My point with my last point is that with all this complaining about licensing in CO – what would you, me or anyone else do that might find themselves relocated to a licensed state? The arguments made in opposition – all of them – would be moot. I’m not saying those other states have it right, just something to think about in considering how reasonable the proposed mandatory licensing in CO is (and assuming fees would also be reasonable). I’m not an all or nothing supporter, I am reasonable yet particular.

  15. Michael said:

    “However, most PIs – and cases of wrongdoing – involve private citizens who do not know where to go.”

    If it’s a matter of private citizens hiring private investigators without an attorney / client relationship – then yes, I can see where the need for consumer protection would be an issue.

    But that’s not how I’m reading the proposed mandatory licensing law. It covers a very broad brush to include all non-agency employed/contracted investigators regardless if a private attorney contracts with them or not.

    With regards to moving – the argument is moot only because the laws would already be existing (good or bad) in the other states. If you, me or someone else was moving to another state – then it’s foolish to think that I should be accepted as a licensed investigator in that state without going through their process. Just like lawyers, if they move – they have to study and retake the bar exam in that state. Investigators should be subject to the same process because the laws and ethical rules are going to be different from state to state.

    If the argument becomes that there’s an influx of bad apple investigators moving into the state – then you’re penalizing everyone for the few bad apples. That doesn’t seem very fair either – and as we’ve said countless times already, the market will take care of those folks because they won’t be doing a lot of business if they keep screwing up.

    My bottom line is this. Investigator licensing works if there’s something that you can give the investigator in the process. We’ve already discussed that records access is not possible and that’s unfortunate. Even if we could dove tail access the equivalent of a skip tracer – would be better than the non-existent access we have now. Having the support and recognition behind the state seal should mean something more than club membership card.

    I come from some experience in assisting to establish a state wide training program apparatus for investigators so I’m well aware of the complexities when it comes to trying to lead investigators to a training program that actually benefits vs. becoming another waste of time listening to stuff that has no relevance (but they need the credit anyway.) There’s a balance and it has to be self-initiated by the investigator to want to do something about it. That’s why I’ve been pounding home the incentive – because if there is one or two, folks should then change their mind and start walking over.

    • Well, you can’t have a law that covers acts only in private agreements. No one is penalized, that argument simply has never made sense. Realistically, we may be penalized – if at least by reputation – by bad acts. That is like saying drivers are penalized by simply requiring a driver’s license. I didn’t say its not possible to have records access – I said licensing offers a means to create protections through permissible purposes and exemptions, which cannot take place with licensing (defining a class of people / professionals who would benefit from the same). Licensing also makes vetting by data providers much easier and faster. Reasonable is a balance — if you have no foundation for incentives, you will have no incentives.

      • Michael said:

        “Well, you can’t have a law that covers acts only in private agreements.”

        Who says you can’t?

        “No one is penalized, that argument simply has never made sense. ”

        In the context of what I said, a few bad apples spoil it for everyone. Proof positive is the gun debate. Just ask those that adamantly support the 2nd Amendment whether a change in gun law affected them. Hence, a few bad apples who can’t use guns responsibly, spoil it for everyone. If that doesn’t make sense – then I’m afraid I can’t help.

        “I didn’t say its not possible to have records access – I said licensing offers a means to create protections through permissible purposes and exemptions, which cannot take place with licensing (defining a class of people / professionals who would benefit from the same).”

        I’m assuming you’re missing a word in there because logically it doesn’t make sense. Because how it reads, you can’t create protections and permissible purposes even with licensing. If that’s the case, then you’ve proven that licensing does not further the cause towards granting investigators any greater access than they have today.

        I disagree that data providers will make it “easier and faster” to get approved with or without licensing. It’s the same background check and regardless of credentials in a licensed state vs. an unlicensed state – the same vetting process takes the same amount of time. I know logically it makes sense, but in the real world it doesn’t work that way.

        Lastly, I do agree that reasonable is a balance. And I also agree that there needs to be a foundation for incentives for incentives to exist. The major flaw in this logic is that it would’ve made the voluntary investigator license more reasonable and lucrative to have already established the foundation for incentives. Since no incentives were established for voluntary, there’s no incentives for mandatory … because the voluntary program lacked the foundation by which to build incentives from. The way the mandatory law has been drafted – it’s no different.

        I’d also add that when the voluntary program was being touted 3 years ago – I remember there was all the promise of all the incentive things that were to come with being licensed. I have yet to hear from any of my cohorts that licensing afforded them anything except the big bold print “licensed” on their business card.

        If incentives couldn’t be derived from a voluntary system, then there’s no evidence to support that the mandatory system will achieve anything either.

        I waited to see what would come of the investigator licensing process and to what benefit it would serve the investigator. Again, I see no benefit.

  16. How would you bi-furcate that? Most PIs provide services to attorneys and other clients – such as businesses, insurance companies and individuals – instances of no similar agent liability. I guess you would have to tell the non-attorney PIs that they must have a license. That simply further divides and complicates with higher costs.

    I am a strong Second Amendment advocate – and I see no connection. Professional licensing (all) provides for consumer protection and professional integrity. I find it to be earned. Some will say the BBB is a venue for consumer protection and professional integrity – which is bought and not earned.

    Yes, that should be ‘…which cannot take place without licensing…’. There has to be a foundation and statutory definition of our profession in order to create the ability to have regulatory or statutory permissible purposes and exemptions. It is not possible to do so without licensing. “Mr. Legislator – our profession is requesting a statutory exemption to your proposed restrictions of law enforcement records to protect individual privacy.” This is responded with, “Okay, show me the language you suggest and the statutory definition of the profession you want a permissible purpose or exemption for.” This becomes, “Ummm, well, there isn’t any. In Colorado any person can say they are a private investigator.” Is this responded with, “Hmmm…how can private investigators be permitted or exempted if no one is a private investigator [by lack of statutory definition] and everyone is [also due to lack of statutory definition]?” This has always been the problem in Colorado. Once this vehicle is in place, steering permissible purposes and exemptions becomes possible and that work can begin.

    Being personally acquainted with the major providers, I can tell you definitively that their internal background and credential verification for PIs in Colorado is more stringent and difficult – more costly to them (there are some that aren’t concerned with data breaches – contact Tracers, for one). There is concern among the larger providers that their data will be restricted by the data aggregators (i.e. credit bureaus). To currently comply with this, there are also items that some restrict from PIs in Colorado, unless they are licensed in another state (one restricts vehicle information, one restricts some vehicle information – none are specific, until you run a search and either can’t or have unexpected results). This is the most common reason to do so – it has nothing to do with clients or consumer protection; perhaps professional integrity.

    Among other reasons (time, resources, cooperation), voluntary was not seen as serious by various state agencies and they did not want to change their policies for an optional standard of integrity.

    Realistically, and as you say, you support licensing. You are simply wanting concrete answers as to what will happen. If PIs in Colorado would work together, instead of some drinking the opposed Kool-Aid, then a great deal of progress can be made towards those benefits of licensure we all seek. Together We’re Better!

  17. On Saturday, February 8, 2014 1:55 PM, Bob Heales wrote:
    I am passing along this message to Ryan Johnston to some Colorado NCISS members to keep you informed. I’m not sure how familiar you are with the current proposed PI licensing bill.

    Bob Heales
    From: Bob Heales
    Sent: Saturday, February 08, 2014 2:43 PM
    To: PPIACLeg@yahoogroups.com
    Cc: Dean Beers ; zimmerpi@pacbell.net ; jhuckabee@starsecurityinc.com ; TShamshak@aol.com ; brad.duffy@permarsecurity.com ; DAnderson@andersonsecurity.com ; Francie Koehler ; Maria Landry
    Subject: Amendment Required – Colorado Mandatory Private Investigation Licensing Bill

    Hi Ryan,

    The NCISS Executive Committee and Legislation Chairman for Investigations discussed the Colorado licensing bill at great length. The flaws in this bill were being pointed out to me before I really had a chance to discuss them. It was unanimous that NCISS could not support or endorse this bill as currently written, but would consider doing so if amended. As it stands it is clearly unfair to employers.

    NCISS issues this official statement:
    The National Council of Investigation & Security Services (NCISS) remains committed to the consumer protection and professionalism through reasonable mandatory licensure or regulation. A background check and verified experience are minimum standards that address both of these issues. The current form of the bill does not address agency licensing and therefore NCISS cannot support it unless amended. As an association of investigative and security professionals with membership that includes many larger agencies with employees, NCISS recommends and would support agency licensing as provided for in the majority of those 44 states with licensing programs.

    The Executive Committee also felt that PPIAC has not done a sufficient job in reaching out to their members and non-members that would be affected by this bill to explain in detail the advantages and disadvantages, or pros and cons of this bill. Should there be no amendment then NCISS members could find themselves lobbying against this bill, and we felt PPIAC should probably also lobby to kill the bill. Remember, several of us have mentioned that no bill is better than a bad bill, and yes, this is a bad bill. It needs to be more inclusive and as written, could have a negative impact on several PPIAC and NCISS members.

    Also, long time CALI Legislation Chair Francie Koehler pointed out that CALI just sent a letter in support of this bill. However, she said CALI did not know what was in the bill or the flaws before sending out the letter. She felt that when this is explained to CALI President Michael Julian, they could withdraw their support, and we think they probably will.

    I don’t know what other organizations are being listed as supporters, but if they have not seen the entire bill and the agency aspect has not been discussed with them, I suspect they very well could withdraw their support as well.

    I think that if this bill fails, in the future you would find any number of experienced NCISS members who would work with PPIAC to draft legislation that makes sense and could be accepted by most every professional investigator in Colorado.

    Best Regards,
    Bob Heales
    R.A. Heales & Associates, Ltd.

    Looks like NCISS has a very big hand in what is going on here in Colorado,it appears PPIAC at the expense of those in business and those who want to be in the business gave in to NCISS. Where is the loyalty of PPIAC to Colorado private investigators? When the requirements are announced by the director of the program (along with PPIAC influence),how many in business will be out of business when they don’t qualify? I have eight very qualified students enrolled in my May academy-they might not qualify. How many PPIAC members if trying to get in the profession if they had to meet the volunteer requirements-best guess 25%, BUT they are gonna dictate to the rest of us who is qualified and who isn’t.

    Attempting to control the market-no question about it!

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