Outsider Comments on Colorado PI law

There sure are a lot of people outside of Colorado watching what’s going on in the Centennial State these days.

A blogger up in Washington has now weighed in.  But he falls short on a few points…mainly because he has no first-hand knowledge of what’s going on in Colorado.  In his first paragraph, he says, “I felt like it was quietly taking place”.  Maybe if he were sitting in the Rocky Mountains instead of the Cascades, he would feel differently.  The truth is that folks (for and against) have been meeting over the issue for months (and have been arguing for years) and there as been a lot of effort to bring mandatory licensing to Colorado.  There has also been a lot of effort to kill licensing altogether.  But as someone who is actually here in Colorado, I can promise this:  Nothing here is happening “quietly”.

The Washington blogger then goes on to say that he believes that the voluntary licensing program was a gateway to mandatory licensing.  That just shows how uninformed he is.  The voluntary licensing program was never intended to be a gateway to mandatory, otherwise it would have been written into the law.  Makes me wonder who he has been talking to. There’s only one group that believes that, and its the group that opposes any kind of PI license.

I will agree with the Washington blogger that licensing has but one purpose, and that is to provide some consumer protection.  That’s the only reason to have it.

I’ll also agree with him that this concept of having different levels of license is a bad idea.  It’s more than bad.  It’s idiotic.  It is plain silly to think that just because a PI has more “experience” than the next PI, he (or she) is any better.  I’m not sure who (or what group) is driving this whole “experience” factor, but they ought to have their heads examined. The more I read that portion of SB133, I just shake my head.

But what I most agree with is how the blogger says that “…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.”   Yes, there is a LOT of personal politics going on here. But did you seriously think there wouldn’t be?  Its personal on all sides of this issue.

I understand why the blogger feels the need to pontificate from Washington.  Blogging is great for exposure and web ranking (SEO).  And, after all, we all have the right of free speech (although I intentionally write this under an assumed name because of the grief I will get from several sides).

But the point of this article is to say this:  If you aren’t a Colorado PI and actually involved in this issue, you should maybe just stick to your own local politics and quit trying to tell other people how to run their own affairs.  Because you have no idea what’s going on in Colorado unless you’re here.  And by giving advice on things that you only have half the information on…you’re not helping.  

  1. Michael said:

    “The Washington blogger then goes on to say that he believes that the voluntary licensing program was a gateway to mandatory licensing. That just shows how uninformed he is.”

    I disagree. I thought the exact same thing when the original voluntary licensing program was being discussed.

    “Makes me wonder who he has been talking to. There’s only one group that believes that, and its the group that opposes any kind of PI license.”

    That’s not true either.

    I want a PI license that actually does something. Spending $1k for a card to “woohoo” about isn’t going to magically grant us new superhero powers. If there was real meat behind the PI licensing movement it would pave the way for private investigators. While that was the intent, there’s no substance. It’s a $1k card that doesn’t carry any more weight than your average CDL. In fact, agencies and facilities aren’t interested in the $1k card – they still want your license. In fact, the $1k doesn’t produce any more leverage or access than what exists for John Q Public.

    It’s absolutely no wonder that other states looking at this while shaking their heads.

    A lot of us knew that the voluntary program was going to be a stepping stone for a legislative push to make it a mandatory program. For what? “To protect the industry?” Really? At the very least do we get condoms with the $1k card? That’s at least more feasible protection than a mandatory card that doesn’t mean anything to anyone except us.

  2. Bob Oblock said:

    You Sir or Madame are a coward at least Ryan Ross and Paul Simon are not afraid to make to points and let people know who they are. When you say you are not aligned with any groups I challenge you to be a liar. Also it you someone you should do enough research to learn the proper spelling of there name.

    Bob Oblock

    • You, Sir or Madame, should learn how to use punctuation in a sentence and learn how to spell “their”. Do you send your clients reports written like this?

      • You, Sir or Madame, but more like gutless coward, “too afraid to use your name, like a sad scared little girl”!!!

      • This is all that can be said to a pathetic coward!!

  3. Greg Caldwell said:

    I find it interesting you respond to comments but never post the comments for others to read. Where is the one from the gentlemen from the Cascades, for instance?

    Okay, since YOU decided he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, perhaps you’ll accept my thought with more than passing sarcasm. I am a Denver native and spent the first twenty-plus years of my career as a PI in Colorado. I was, for a short time, a member of PPIAC but back then, found it managed by a “good-ol’-boy” network of friends who effectively silenced cogent ideas that might disagree with their dictates. It, too, was a time of trying to get licensing, but under the entirely false impression that it would somehow help or give credibility to the individual investigator. I was even “for it, before I was against it”. Let me explain why.

    First, since leaving Colorado around 1999 I’ve been in and license by three different states. Let you attempt the jab suggesting I couldn’t stay in one place very long for suspicious reasons, let me say each move – save one – was a direct result of a corporate client requiring more than long distance assistance. The exception was to deal with elderly parents.

    So I’ve jumped through the hoops, had the background investigations (much more in-depth than Colorado’s) and demonstrated the years of experience. Let’s take Florida for instance: I was a member of both FAPI and FALI, two associations constantly at each other’s throats. One organization was started because the bolting members felt the other organization was merely pushing through new regulations in order to control the schools and CEU training in order to become a licenses PI. Had I started my career in Florida, I NEVER would have ended up as a PI since regulations require years of demonstrable experience AND working as an intern for a licensed agency. Ever try to get a job as an intern? In Florida (as I recall) they require an intern to take a 40 hour course taught by (guess who), people who pushed this part of the regulation and have the “approved” schools, then gain 4,000 hours of actual investigative experience. This experience must be hands-on, must be 100% supervised by the licensed PI and documents in regular reports to the licensing authority (there, the Department of Agriculture…go figure!).

    In Colorado I set up an intern program for students in the Criminal Justice program for both Metro State and CUDC. Students would work in my offices and perform very limited field work, some supervised, some not. If they were working on a billable case, they also received minimal pay but the rest of the time they were doing it to learn AND receive college course-level credits, approved by the Chair of the Department. Very few went on to become PIs; some went into law enforcement and others into related public safety fields. Nothing they did in would have counted for anything for a Florida license. I believe the same to be true in most, but not all licensed states.

    I provide all that for background. I paid my dues. I was successful because I survived in a market driven environment. I knew what I didn’t know and never told a client I could do anything I couldn’t. And I thought, until I saw it first hand, that licensing was necessary in Colorado (of course early on, I would have been grandfathered in).

    Here is a recent line from the head of a state private investigator’s association: “…licensing is merely … taxation to work in a right to work state. There is no benefit to having a state license but to extort the working class professionals and regulate who gets in or who does not.” It’s not merely sour grapes. Virtually all licensing authorities have the responsibility to police (who else) licensed private investigators. What they don’t have is any authority to go after, prosecute or stop anyone who is unlicensed! This, I believe, is what the opposition to the current licensing situation in Colorado is trying to say. There is little, if any benefit other than to subject oneself to regulatory oversight.

    What’s wrong with being sued if you wrong someone? Or, go to jail if you take a retainer under fraudulent misrepresentation? But what it really comes down to is who gets to make the rules; who gets to enforce them and will there actually be actual enforcement against unlicensed activity? Self-regulating organizations generally grow into powerful failures because they really are short-sighted going into licensing. The group that pushed licensing in Colorado made all sorts of promises of a neutral deficit to the legislative body which has done nothing but raise the rates of the persons seeking licenses to offset those who are opposed. That’s the first thing wrong with voluntary licensing. More than likely it won’t support the promises.

    The second and perhaps most important reason for objecting to licensing is very few people give darn whether you are licensed or not. For several years I lobbied on the hill as part of the Hit the Hill campaign for NCISS. Guess what I found with every legislator? Not one of them knew there was licensing. Not one of the knew of FBI background checks. And very few of the listened to why we were there – which was to stop passing privacy and other regulations which would put private investigator’s – licensed or not – out of business by making most of what we do illegal. It’s all part of passing bills with unintended consequences. It’s not limited to the ACA, or GLB or SO. Apparently the supporters of licensing in Colorado are also willing to pass it and see what happens later.

    And finally, I’ve met retired LEOs working as PIs who I wouldn’t hire to paint my house and I’ve met a few others (like myself) who treated becoming a PI like a business. The studied, they learned, they worked and the marketplace, the quality of their work and their integrity dictated whether they survived as PIs. Licensing had little to do with it. As you probably know, if you can’t write an intelligible report, I don’t care how good your investigative skills are; you will fail.

    Other than having to have a license to continue working, the benefits are few. Having a voluntary license makes no sense except for those who want to be able to flash something (badge or ID card) to someone. To what end?

    • Lots of fair comments, and as someone who has worked in Colorado, you have a better understanding (I assume) of the issues in our state. My point was that a blogger in Washington is using our efforts to license as fodder for his own SEO.

  4. I’d add one more comment about “real” private investigator licenses. State and federal agencies don’t even accept it for a valid ID. And again, not ONCE have I ever been asked to show it to anyone; an individual, a business client or an agency. Yeah, I’d really want to spend $1K for that privilege, my Colorado friends.

    • Michael said:

      “I’d add one more comment about “real” private investigator licenses. State and federal agencies don’t even accept it for a valid ID. And again, not ONCE have I ever been asked to show it to anyone; an individual, a business client or an agency. Yeah, I’d really want to spend $1K for that privilege, my Colorado friends.”

      Exactly my point.

      • Both Michael and Greg need to read the fiscal analysis of SB133. There have been two published so far and can be found on the General Assembly’s website. Neither one says nothing about a $1k license.

        That’s part of the frustration in discussing this issue. How can two people on opposite sides of an issue come to a reasonable conclusion, when one participant of the conversation is speaking from an uninformed or misinformed position? Or taking their information from what somebody else told them? You guys call yourselves investigators, yet neither of you seem to have bothered to go and review the evidence yourself and then speak from an informed position.

        Go read the fiscal analysis and we can talk about fees.

        If you want to bitch about $1k fees, go start another blog and bitch about Voluntary Licensing and the fees under that law. I’ll come join you and bitch as well. $1k fees are ridiculous. Nobody is contesting that. But this blog is discussing SB133 and mandatory licensing, where there has been no mention of $1k fees.

      • Gee, I can’t defend the position so I’ll attack the opposition. Where have I seen that before?

        My original post was about licensing in Colorado, in its current manifestation, which WILL cause an abnormal increase in fees, not about some esoteric future possibility to allegedly mitigate those increases. In that original post, I specifically discussed how some investigators (and leaders) in other states viewed licensing after a time and how it has had little or no effect on their success but rather only submits them to (unnecessary) regulatory oversight. I proffered that information as a Colorado native.

        That said, you’re correct. Two people on opposite sides of a discussion can never come to a reasonable conclusion when one person arbitrarily redefines the argument. So, with little fanfare, this will be my last attempt at being reasonable…and posting here. Best of luck.

  5. Michael said:

    I’m not sure who you are “coloradoprivateinvestigator” – but the snark in your post makes me more disinclined to support your position.

    THAT SAID ….

    I rely on what is KNOWN, not what is hypothesized. Not what is theorized, predicted or otherwise discovered by way of oracle.

    Back when the voluntary system was installed, there was all the promise and fiscal analysis saying that the cost for licensing would be minimal. “It’ll be reasonable, a couple hundred dollars. We’ll be able to get access. We’ll be more professional, we’ll get to use a free company jet whenever we want.” (/snark intended)

    Well, $1k and a few short years later – guess they were wrong in that analysis, weren’t they? Not in the cards? Tea leaves askew? Oracle blinked?

    You really should investigate the fiscal notes from the voluntary law was passed. Using your same condescending tone: “Go read THAT fiscal analysis and we can talk about fees.”

    See? How $180 became over $300 and eventually over $1000? Why is that? Hmmm.

    So you really can’t rest your laurels on what a fiscal analysis is going to point out when there’s an operating DEFICIT because the stakeholders that went to make this law before apparently misjudged, underestimated, overestimated or otherwise just “guessed” at what numbers COULD be, not what they WOULD be. Investigators were disillusioned after the fees came back much HIGHER than advertised.

    What’s the new tag line? “While we will not know the actual cost of the license until DORA has had a chance to offer a fiscal analysis – we are confident that the cost of a license will be much less than what you spend on basic operating expenses such as ink toner, paper – or even vehicle operating expenses – on an annual basis. With gas at $3.50/gal, a license is should be the least of your financial obstacles when operating your business.”

    Wow, that makes me feel … so much better. Especially knowing I’m paying for something that doesn’t give anything in return. So let’s add a license, a bond now and I’ll need to retain legal counsel at some point to make sure I’m covered. On top of everything else.

    I really encourage you to look more into fiscal notes you touted: The ASSUMPTION is a downgraded to 300 investigators who would pay $400 for a license. What happens when you start driving THOSE folks from applying? The exact same license fee increase occurs based on the (apparent) fiscal requirement just to have licensing in the first place. It’s a see-saw. More folks leave one side, the cost of things stays the same, but fees have to be raised to meet those costs offset by the folks departing the program.

    While I admire the PPIAC for attempting to sell the “see? It’s no big deal,” for a lot of us – it is a big difference. Especially when the mandatory program starts forcing out investigators and driving the costs back up again. The difference we’re talking about here is what do we KNOW versus what is ASSUMED (assuming that you also read the big bold capped reference in the fiscal notes for SB14-133.

    So – what do we actually KNOW?

    1.) Licensing (the voluntary or the proposed mandatory bill) doesn’t do anything for the investigator
    2.) Licensing doesn’t help the investigator
    3.) Licensing doesn’t give the investigator any more privilege, rank, or super powers than my next door neighbor who runs a lawn mowing business.
    4.) Licensing COSTS the investigator in money, time, and resources on top of operating their business
    5.) There’s NO GUARANTEE what the cost of the license is going to be
    6.) That the current cost of an investigator license exceeds $1k.
    7.) That money doesn’t go into any training or insurance program to HELP investigators as it’s merely is a nice way for the state to continue to line their coffer
    8.) There’s no legislation that gives a licensed investigator any additional authority than the homeless person in the park
    9.) There’s no protection necessity for the consumer UNLESS the public is hiring one to track down their spouse they believe is cheating on them.
    10.) Licensing creates just another red tape, bureaucratic sh*tstorm that we all need to follow

    All the while still providing – yep – still no benefit for the investigator, the profession, or our clients.

    I am informed and I report facts, not premonitions, predictions or tea leaf readings. A responsible investigator who doesn’t reside in hypotheticals, hunches or confident feelings. Contrary to what you might believe, I’m an independent minded person who happens to draw conclusions based on factual content versus reciting a concise list of prepared bullet points. So no, I don’t drink “the kool-aid” like you enjoy boasting about. I have made my posts based on historical proof, personal experience and whatever can be substantiated in the text of the past and pending legislation.

    Point being: You can tout that the licensing fee MIGHT be $400, but a true investigator deals in absolutes – not expected results or hypothetical fiscal reports based on “it could be….”

    For the record: $400 is better than $1000 – but …. again …. what does it do for investigator besides making it a elitist club membership card? The license does nothing – except grant us “permission” to do what we are already doing without the license in the first place. Show me something we can all benefit from that isn’t decorating or fluff. I will adamantly support a licensing program that DOES something. Anything less is wasting our time and money.


    But of most of all, Dean at least was willing to rationally debate the points back and forth. Even though he and I might disagree with one another, I remained open to his arguments and open to the prospect of one day supporting a licensing program for investigators that actually does something for our profession.

    “Coloradoprivateinvestigator,” you have effectively made me not want to support the licensing provisions in any shape way or form. Your condescending, antagonistic, derogatory approach doesn’t really cause one to unite behind your cause. My response here was made in kind so that you could feel what that feels like.

    You may want to think about that the next time you want to slam someone and wonder why no one is supporting your position.

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