The Anti-Surveillance Bill’s Influence on Colorado PI Licensing

Jun 14, 2011

Efforts to restore licensing to Colorado private investigators are not new. It is one of the founding principles of the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado since PI licensing was repealed in the 70’s. There have been several attempts by PPIAC to restore licensing to Colorado. That is well known to Colorado private investigators.

What many private investigators are not aware of is a piece of legislation that was introduced in 2010. HB10-1012 would have been devastating to the investigations profession in Colorado and would have been a major threat across the country. HB1012 attempted to limit surveillance across the board that could be conducted for Colorado worker’s compensation and other insurance claims. Surveillance for these cases is merely a way to help verify or disprove a claim. Private investigators were accused of trespassing, harassment, stalking, violating people’s privacy, etc. In the end, legislators, claimants, privacy advocates, and other proponents of this piece of legislation had NO proof of these accusations. Not a single charge of harassment or stalking, no documentation indicating trespassing or invasion of privacy, not even a single police report.

Some private investigators did not want to get involved, but PPIAC felt it was important to hire its own lobbyist to defeat this bill. Because this bill would have had an immediate and dramatic affect on the surveillance investigtations specialty as a whole, PPIAC was heavily involved.

Though it seems HB10-1012 would have only affected surveillance in the use of worker’s compensation cases, it’s very likely the law would have been hijacked to affect all surveillance. It could have then been hijacked even further to limit other forms of investigations.

The progress of HB1012 was being watched across the country because it would have set a detrimental precedence that other state legislators, privacy groups, etc. would have used as a template. In fact, the National Council of Investigative and Security Services has to continuously fight these types of privacy bills. NCISS often mentions that the biggest threat to private investigators are the privacy bills that are being introduced over and over.

During discussions involving HB1012, PPIAC asked Colorado legislators what could be done to ease concerns to those who introduced and supported the bill. The topic of licensing came up. Several private investigators mentioned that past attempts had been made, and each time licensing attempts were immediately killed during committee. Some legislators mentioned that maybe this was the time for private investigators to introduce another bill. A couple of legislators mentioned that a bill might be introduced regardless if PPIAC took part or not. PPIAC’s concern was if Colorado legislators introduced a bill, the industry has less say in the bill’s drafting points.

PPIAC knew that it had to work on a licensing bill to introduce in 2011. This bill would have to not only be beneficial for the industry as a whole, but it had to be successful. When HB11-1195 was initially introduced, it provided for ‘public’ records access, and maintaining of records access, to licensed private investigators.  The records access portion was removed due to concerns that keeping records access in the bill could cause the bill to be killed. Once removed, the bill wiped out a significant portion of the opposition.

Every PPIAC member involved in this process helped draft HB11-1195 to benefit the profession not just now but for decades to come. The newly signed law will be a benefit to any private investigator regardless of the past career of the PI. HB1195 is a paradigm shifting licensing bill. Rather than eliminating those who cannot obtain a license as mandatory programs do, and then attempting to police the industry to prevent unlicensed PI activity, HB1195 simply highlights those who have been vetted and qualified by the state of Colorado. It can be used as yet another credential, similar to becoming a Certified Legal Investigator, Certified Financial Investigator or Certified Fraud Examiner.