Colorado Private Investigators Seek Licensing

Apr 22, 2013

I am a past President of the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado. The reason why Colorado private investigators are seeking to establish a licensing requirement is simple: consumer protection. For the past 11 years that I have been a private investigator, including the beginning of my career, I have wondered why other professions in Colorado required licensing, yet Colorado private investigators had no professional oversight, no guidelines, no standards, no training or schooling requirements, no attestation to the knowledge of the laws that pertain to private investigators, no standardization, and simply nothing prohibiting anyone from becoming a private investigator. Over the course of my career, I have encountered a private investigator who was a drug addict while employed as PI. I’ve known of another who kept an ice chest full of beer in his car which he drank while out on surveillance stakeouts. Yet another kept marijuana in the car that she used for surveillance. Some PI’s have felony convictions, others misdemeanors. Some have had restraining/protection orders placed against them as a result of their investigations. One private investigator was shot at as a result of conducting surveillance on private property. At least two Colorado investigators admitted to improperly, and without consent of the owners, placing GPS tracking devices on the vehicles of the subjects of their investigations.

Colorado private investigators are entrusted and often tasked with having social security numbers, dates of birth, height, weight, daily habits, work and personal schedules, vehicle descriptions and identifying information, etc. of individuals they are investigating. I highly doubt there is another licensed profession which deals with this many types of sensitive information.

Colorado private investigators are hired by attorneys who are required to be licensed. PI’s are often called on to testify to the accuracy and legality of their findings. Attorneys and other clients depend on investigators to not just find information, but to have that information admitted into court as evidence.

Private investigators are hired to perform criminal defense / death penalty investigations, death causation investigations, child custody and welfare investigations, family law investigations, insurance fraud investigations, financial investigations, accident reconstructions, and political investigations to include opposition research. We are hired to locate lost relatives, friends, military and war veterans, beneficiaries, witnesses, etc.

Private investigators sometimes interview witnesses of murders and injuries. PI’s interview rape and assault victims. In certain circumstances PI’s might even interview children. Private investigators are routinely called on when clients are at the lowest points of their lives.

Private investigators often conduct surveillance, both stationary as well as mobile. Stationary surveillance is what
the public might refer to as stakeouts. The stakeouts are very similar, and in many cases identical to the stakeouts that police officers conduct. When a suspicious vehicle is called in to the police, the responding officer has no way of knowing if the individual is a legitimate PI without licensing. Private investigators cannot impersonate police officers. However that has not prevented Colorado investigators from flashing badges at subjects or the general public. There is nothing preventing law enforcement, district attorney investigators, and other public officials / employees from moonlighting as PI’s and thus involving themselves in conflict of interest cases. Colorado PI’s have faced discipline for such involvement.

Why should Colorado private investigators be licensed? It is in the best interest of the public that consumer protection be in place. The consumer protection of the public far outweighs the self interests of opposing PI’s. Please support SB-259. The bill is scheduled to be heard in Denver at the Capitol beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the Old Supreme Court Chambers. Here is a link to the bill: