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Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Private Investigator’

Private Investigator Rates in Colorado

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

Having worked full time as a Colorado private investigator for nearly 15 years, and for over 10 years as a business owner, I’ve been able to experience the ebbs and flows – the ups and downs of the profession. Over those 15 years, I’ve  had the opportunity to network with hundreds of practicing private investigators, both full-timers as well as part-timers, and I’ve also guided aspiring private investigators who were looking at gaining entry into the profession. Those hundreds of PI’s that I’ve met have come from many walks of life. Some had prior law enforcement or military experience. Others came into private investigations with criminal justice, investigative journalism, or even law degrees under their belts. Still others started out by taking an online private investigations course, or perhaps attended one in person. Others were introduced into private investigations having had no previous exposure to any type of investigations.

With such varying levels of experience, credentials, certifications, licenses, etc. how do private investigator business owners begin to set a fee structure when they start their own companies? This is a critical question that each new business owner should consider carefully at the time that the business is started. Most private investigators have an hourly rate with expenses charged separately, others might charge a flat fee hourly rate to include expenses incurred such as mileage and travel time, and still others charge a flat fee daily rate. Some private investigators even charge on a contingency or percentage basis. However, many states have restrictions or complete bans on this type of fee structure for private investigators. To complicate the matter even further, some investigators have a lower fee for cases worked as a contract investigator versus their regular fee for cases where they are the originating investigator.

Many new investigator businesses will simply attempt to research what the going rate is for the state or region of operation and then set their rates accordingly. However, consider this: over the years I have heard of Colorado private investigators charging rates as low as $40 per hour as the originating investigator, to rates as high as $300 per hour. Wow. $40-$300 per hour! That seems like quite a disparity to me. Think about it: all other expenses and factors being equal, the $40 per hour investigator has to work 7.5 hours just to match the 1 hour worked by the $300 per hour investigator! The obvious explanation to this is the $40 per hour investigator must be an inexperienced generalist while the $300 per hour investigator must be an experienced specialist with every credential imaginable.  However, there are other variables which could factor into those rates. The $40 per hour investigator could be a part time investigator, perhaps a retired individual who receives a pension or other forms of secondary income. Those individuals perhaps view private investigations as more of a hobby or pastime.  The $300 per hour investigator perhaps has a brick and mortar office in a prime location complete with a receptionist, office manager, administrative assistant, field employees, etc. The $300 per hour investigator could also be a smaller agency that contracts out work to $100 per hour investigators and as a result still generating a good profit while having subcontractors do the investigations.

I once experienced a scenario which I had not previously been aware of or even considered. I received a phone call from a large corporation which had recently started hiring in-house investigators. The potential client wanted to know what my company’s rates were for initiating surveillance on a subject in Glenwood Springs, CO. The caller explained to me that the surveillance would span from a specific pickup point until the subject returned to their residence, so in the potential client’s words, the surveillance would only be one day. I informed the caller of my hourly rates as well as mileage and travel rates, and explained that my office was located in Castle Rock, Colorado – approximately 3.5 hours away from Glenwood Springs. To help explain the minimum travel and mileage expenses, I informed the caller that the only investigator available to cover the surveillance case would have to be dispatched from Castle Rock. The potential client stated that their in-house investigator is paid a $125 per day flat rate. After a couple of seconds of silence on the phone line, I realized the potential client wanted me to make an attempt to match that rate. I politely explained to the caller that I could not lower my rates, and perhaps the corporation should continue using their in-house investigator. Her reply was something to the effect of, “But I don’t want to use my in-house investigator.” She went on to explain that they were not pleased with the quality of investigations they were getting from the in-house investigator. I spent another few minutes on the phone with the caller, but I quickly realized she had been accustomed into believing this flat fee rate was the average going rate for investigations.

I ended the phone call unclear if the in-house investigator was an employee or if the investigator was a vendor who did all their work for this corporation. Perhaps I could have clarified the caller’s definition of ‘in-house’ investigator, and then maybe I could have explained the various expenses, taxes, operating costs, insurance, etc. that I as a business owner must incur versus an employee investigator. Perhaps I could have explained how our company specializes in surveillance, that each surveillance investigator has years of experience, and how each investigator is individually licensed in Colorado. However, in my mind I was convinced we would not come to an agreement on a rate.

So once again, what should an investigator charge? Based on all the variables, this is a difficult question to answer. Instead, I ask private investigators to take a look at other businesses and professions. For example, attorneys, like private investigators, range in size as small as sole proprietors to as large as national or even international corporations with employees numbering in the hundreds or even thousands. Some attorneys have a home office, while some have dedicated office buildings. Practically all have some form of website or other forms of internet presence. Many have memberships in professional organizations and associations.

Private investigators, like attorneys, might have to purchase similar attire as attorneys for marketing, face-to-face client relations, and testifying / providing attorney support at hearings and trials. Unlike attorneys, private investigators aren’t required to have a 4 year or higher college degree, and in many states aren’t required to pass an exam or even be licensed. So perhaps the average rate for private investigators shouldn’t be the same as the average rate for attorneys in a given state or region.

To the private investigators at the low end of the spectrum, such as in the $40 per hour range, taking a look at other businesses and their hourly charges may prove to be an indicator of how the investigator is perceived to clients as well as colleagues, inadvertently or otherwise. Plumbers who are licensed charge $45 – $150/hr. Car mechanics charge $80 – $100/hr. Are licensed and professional minded private investigators not, at the bear minimum, as valuable in terms of the services provided as car mechanics or plumbers? Those are the questions that each investigator business owner must answer when establishing their rates.

The Highly Specialized Career of Professional Investigations

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Professional private investigations is a career that many people have a great deal of fascination about. Television and media have often depicted the private investigator as an individual who is a do-it-all, a James Bond type of figure willing to tackle and somehow successfully accomplish any type of mission, assignment, or adversity presented to the character.

In reality, professional investigators give a great deal of thought to what cases they are willing to accept. Effective and responsible investigators know that if a case is outside their area of expertise, there is a greater probability that the results of the case will not be optimal. If you are looking for an attorney to resolve a child custody matter, would you hire the attorney that specializes in bankruptcy law, immigration law, or criminal law? You will likely prefer to hire the attorney who specializes in family law, and maybe even more precisely, child custody matters.

Professional private investigators like, attorneys, have specialties of their own. When potential clients are considering whether to hire a private investigator, I will often advise them against hiring the do-it-all private investigator. The old saying, ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ certainly applies to investigations. A person who is considering hiring a private investigator should first identify what needs to be resolved or what information is being sought. The potential client can then begin looking for an investigator who specializes in obtaining the desired information or resolving the person’s matter. When contacting the investigator or investigative agency, do not hesitate to ask if they specialize in a certain area. Also, do not hesitate to ask how much experience they have in a certain area.

Advanced Professional Investigations is occasionally asked about companies that offer and provide professional services unrelated to investigations, and simultaneously have an in-house investigator or an investigations division. While it may seem tempting to go with the ‘one stop shop’ provider, the client should give consideration to a couple of important factors. First, is there a potential for the in-house investigator to have a bias, or could there be a perceived bias if the investigative findings are presented in a legal setting? Second, if investigation is one of many other professional services offered by a company, how much dedication/focus is the company giving to the investigations division of the company?

Advanced Professional Investigations, LLC is proud to be a fully independent, dedicated professional private investigations agency. What does this mean to our clients? API is able to maintain a direct, customer-focused line of communication with our clients. API obtains its information and documentation in a non-biased manner. API’s results always withstand the scrutiny of any perceived bias in a legal setting. Because API is dedicated to professional investigations, API’s investigators frequently attend conferences, courses, and training to keep on the forefront of investigations. API maintains the latest video recording equipment, with features that are designed specifically for professional investigators, not the general public. API was founded on, and continues to be focused on providing the highest quality results to our clients.

Do you have an investigative case request and you’re not sure who to turn to? Give API a call. Rest assured that if the case request is outside of our areas of specialty, we will let you know and will go the extra step of finding an investigator with the specialty you need.

How I Became a Colorado Private Investigator

Monday, October 15th, 2012

I have been a member of the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado for nearly 6 years now. During that time, one of the questions I have heard time and time again is how one exactly goes about becoming a private investigator, what steps are required, where can an incoming investigator gain experience, etc. As I talked with other long-time, experienced investigators, I realized there are just about as many ways to gain entry and a foothold in this profession as there are investigators in this profession.

With that in mind, I felt compelled to begin an article series entitled, How I Became a Private Investigator. My goal is to provide incoming investigators with some ideas and inspiration to begin their journey and ensure a long career in professional private investigations.

To begin, I must mention a little bit of the background I had coming into the profession. I did not have a college degree, although I did major in engineering for 2 ½ years at the University of Colorado-Boulder. I also did not have former law enforcement experience, or former military experience. Growing up, I never had aspirations to become a detective or investigator of any type. The most exposure I ever had to anything of a detective or investigations nature was reading Sherlock Holmes stories.

After realizing I did not want to be an engineer, I went out into the work force and worked in construction for a couple of years. Those years of working in construction made me realize what I truly wanted out of a career. I wanted a career that would be more mentally stimulating and challenging than construction, but I also liked being out in the world, not being confined in a cubicle or office environment all day, every day.

I began looking in the newspaper ads for jobs that fit the criteria above. I came across an ad for a company in Castle Rock that was hiring for an insurance investigator. The ad specified that there would be regular travel in Colorado, no experience necessary, will train the right person, and bilingual was a plus. I thought to myself, “I would love to see the state, I’m bilingual (Spanish), and if they’re willing to train, I’m willing to learn.”

I put my application in, and even though the ad stated that no experience was necessary, I still thought I’d never have a chance. As I mentioned before, I was not former law enforcement or former military and I had zero schooling in criminal justice or investigative related fields. I had not even so much as taken a course in private investigations. Actually, at the time I was not aware this position was considered private investigations.

Much to my surprise, the manager of the company called me and asked for an interview. He interviewed me, tested me out on my Spanish, and afterwards I still thought I had no chance of being hired. I can’t begin to explain the excitement I felt when I was hired. When I switched careers from construction to investigations, I initially took a drastic cut in pay. I started out at $12/hour in investigations over 10 years ago.  However, I knew that my training with this company was worth something, so I didn’t mind the cut in pay.

Over the first two weeks, I went through an intensive field training program, and after those two weeks it was a trial by fire in working actual surveillance cases and process serves with no assistance. I still remember that for a month or two after beginning my career, I did not know I was becoming a private investigator. I had been hired as an insurance investigator, that’s what my boss referred to the employees as, and I didn’t make the connection to private investigations initially.

I think back now to what it took for me to get to where I am now. I intuitively guided myself to a career that was well suited to my personality. I feel tremendously fortunate to have found a company that was willing to train me from the ground up. The rest was perseverance, determination, and a never ending fervor for learning as much as I can about investigations. Actually, I’m still learning to this day. My goal is to learn one thing that is investigations related every day. Learning how to become a professional private investigator has been one of the most challenging experiences that I’ve been through. Being a business owner in this profession, well, that’s another challenge of its own. Actually, it has been the most challenging journey I’ve undergone, but also the most rewarding. I’ve been in this profession for over 10 years, and God willing, I hope to be in this profession for another 20 or 30.

The Colorado PI Licensing Story

Friday, July 6th, 2012

The Colorado private investigator licensing effort, at least until the law was passed in 2011, was a 34 year effort. According to PI Museum Curator Ben Harroll, Colorado was one of one of the first states to be licensed. He references “Know The Law” The Detective Law Book and Practical Advisor published in 1898 by The Webster Detective Library, Review Publishing Company, Market and Delaware Streets, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Issue No. 3. May, 1899). The Colorado law was repealed in 1977.

The Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado was founded in 1978 to provide guidelines for a licensing statute. Several licensing efforts were brought forth by PPIAC since the license law was repealed in 1977, only to meet with defeat each time. The last effort was in early 2007 with HB07-1083. It was, as all the other efforts before it, a bill calling for mandatory licensing. I was not a Board member of PPIAC at the time. I had recently joined the association a few months before, so I did not testify at the hearing for this bill. However, I did attend the hearing and, like many other investigators, experienced the bitter taste of defeat when HB07-1083 died in the first House committee with a vote of 4-7. However, there were two important lessons that came to light. The first was that PPIAC’s largest obstacle to passing a PI licensing law was itself, as there was no consensus within the association for licensing. The second was that PPIAC needed to do something different. As the saying goes, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

During a visit to Colorado’s PPIAC Conference a few years ago, then NCISS President Francie Koehler was asked by a group of PPIAC members what needed to be done to finally restore licensing to Colorado. Her response to us was to develop relationships with state legislators. This was a critical piece of advice that would soon propel PPIAC into a year after year involvement in Colorado legislative matters.

PPIAC was thrown into the fire in 2010 when HB10-1012, commonly referred to as the Anti-Surveillance Bill, was introduced by insurance claimants and sponsored by Democratic legislators in a year where Democrats held the majority in both the House as well as the Senate. HB10-1012 was a bill that would have severely restricted the use of surveillance in worker’s compensation claims, and would in effect put many surveillance companies out of business in Colorado. This bill also would have likely set a bad precedence to restrict the use of surveillance for purposes other than worker’s compensation. The bill was being monitored by other states. Colorado investigators were backed into a corner. A strategy had to be quickly developed, and a game plan had to be executed. Failure was not an option.

PPIAC’s Board decided it needed a lobbyist, and an effective one at that. Where would PPIAC find an effective lobbyist? Fortunately, one of PPIAC’s past Presidents located a lobbying group owned by two former Colorado legislators. The group was brought into an association meeting for an interview. This lobbying group was subsequently hired and helped guide PPIAC in communicating with legislators, lobbying outside the House and Senate floors, and attending legislative town halls as constituents. In short, they showed PPIAC how to develop relationships with legislators.

With Democrats having control in both the House and the Senate, the Democratic sponsored bill progressed through the House along party line votes. In one of the Senate committees, PPIAC’s lobbyist identified a Democratic Senator as a potential swing vote and someone that PPIAC should talk to. This Senator, whose ex-husband had been a private investigator, was open and understood the concerns of the investigative profession. She subsequently voted opposite her party and was the lone Democrat who voted no, giving the Republicans the majority vote needed to kill the bill.

With relationships established with legislators from the anti-surveillance bill effort, PPIAC set out to introduce a PI licensing bill in 2011. PPIAC knew it needed to take advantage of the momentum provided by the anti-surveillance bill. Colorado investigators were also facing a growing urgency to restore licensing due to concerns of privacy, limiting access to records, and identity theft. PPIAC could not continue fighting bills such as the anti-surveillance bill without the credibility and vetting which comes from being a licensed state. Some Colorado legislators hinted a PI licensing bill could be in the works. Rather than be at the mercy of a legislator-introduced bill, PPIAC knew it needed to introduce a bill first.

The PPIAC Board first had to know was a consensus from its membership before it went forth with a licensing effort. PPIAC’s membership easily reached a majority consensus to move forward with licensing. A path was then carved out for the bill. Preparation began in the summer of 2010. A Licensing Committee was formed, headed by a past President of PPIAC. The committee’s duties were numerous: create a list of key points which could be used to draft a bill, raise funds for a lobbyist, and seek sponsorship from legislators.

In order to approach this licensing effort differently than other licensing efforts, PPIAC decided to seek bi-partisan sponsorship of the licensing bill. PPIAC’s Licensing Chair approached a Republican legislator who happened to be very well respected in the House of Representatives. When asked if he would be the prime House sponsor, he practically laughed. He stated he was anti-regulation and he could not support the key points presented to him by PPIAC. The key points at the time contained the mandatory wording. He suggested the bill be a voluntary license. With a voluntary license, the Republican legislator would agree to be the prime sponsor. At the suggestion of the Licensing Chair, PPIAC went forward with introducing a voluntary license bill. It was around this time that I became President of PPIAC. I realized PPIAC needed to utilize the “outside the box” approach of a voluntary license. In fact, many Colorado investigators were already voluntarily licensed, choosing to obtain their licenses from Kansas, Utah, Arizona, California, and other states.

With the voluntary wording placed in the bill, Republican law makers viewed the bill, introduced as HB11-1195, as much more palatable. The sponsor of HB1195 in the Senate was none other than the Democrat who had been the swing vote the previous year in the anti-surveillance bill.  PPIAC also added a Democrat co-sponsor in the House, for a total of 3 sponsors and the first ever bi-partisan sponsorship for a Colorado PI bill. PPIAC quickly saw the fruits of its labors, and of the long hours the Licensing Committee spent planning in 2010. The bill passed through the first House committee, which the prime sponsor chaired, with a vote of 11-0. Though the Democrats held the majority in the Senate, PPIAC nearly committed a grave error by not including a Republican Senate sponsor. PPIAC found out the Democratic sponsor’s district was a contentious one, and Republicans wanted to kill as many of her bills as they could. During one of the Senate committee hearings, the bill squeaked by with a one vote majority. One of the Democrats was wavering on voting against her party. I wondered if we would experience the “shoe on the other foot” swing that our opponents had experienced with the anti-surveillance bill. However, the Democratic Senator stood by her party. The bill went on to pass through 3 House committees, the House floor vote, 3 Senate committees, the Senate floor vote, and was sent back to the House for consideration of minor amendments adopted out of the Senate.

After all this hard work, Colorado’s governor simply needed to sign the bill to pass into law. PPIAC initially believed this would be a slam dunk as he was a Democrat, and he was establishing a reputation for vetoing very few bills which came to his desk. However, PPIAC’s lobbyist and the Senate sponsor received information indicating he was considering vetoing the bill. The lobbyist, the Senate sponsor, and PPIAC’s Licensing Chair met with the governor’s staff to discuss the bill. Finally, on the last day the governor could sign bill, in the last tense hours of the business day, the governor signed the bill, finally restoring licensing to Colorado after 34 years! The signing of the law was a team effort and demonstrated the strength in numbers as a result of reaching a consensus within the association.

With licensing passed into law in 2011, the PPIAC Licensing Chair introduced a bill in 2012 to bring the Colorado DPPA in line with the Federal DPPA. That bill quickly made its way through the legislature and was passed into law. PPIAC is currently working with the Department of Regulatory Agencies to implement the licensing rules and other details of the program, which is scheduled to begin July 1, 2012.

Through this process, I’ve taken away several important lessons. The first is that sometimes life presents you with challenges that at the time may seem extremely difficult and even insurmountable. I admit I wondered if the Licensing Committee had the time and planning necessary to introduce a licensing bill in time for the 2011 legislative session. However, how was I to know if PPIAC could succeed if it did not try? I also learned that sometimes the answers to life’s problems are right in front of you. It was, after all, the Colorado investigators who were voluntarily licensed in other states gave PPIAC the indication that a voluntary license could be successful in Colorado. I also came to understand why PPIAC’s lobbyist said it’s easier to kill a bill than it is to pass a bill. He also mentioned once you establish relationships with legislators, you have to maintain those relationships and hence the momentum. PPIAC’s legislative efforts provided me the opportunity to take away reminders to some of life’s valuable lessons. As investigators and as human beings, whether we consciously realize it or not, we are lifelong learners. These experiences showed that our association and profession is comprised of individuals that are willing to work hard to make a difference in the future of our profession and our businesses.

NCISS Experience and Colorado Private Investigator Licensing Restored!

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

In April 2012 I attended the NCISS (National Council of Investigative and Security Services) Hit the Hill for the first time in Washington, D.C. In conjunction with Hit the Hill, NCISS held a day of training called the State Association Advisory Board, or SAAB for short. SAAB’s purpose is to create a forum to exchange ideas, information, needs, and concerns relative to state and regional associations. NCISS requested for one of the Colorado private investigator attendees to create a presentation on the licensing effort in Colorado. I volunteered (or was volunteered, rather) to give this presentation to SAAB attendees. It was a privilege for me to be able to play the role of storyteller and to represent Colorado private investigators in recounting road leading to the passage of Colorado’s licensing law.

I honestly expected other NCISS members to be somewhat detached or otherwise unaware of Colorado’s recent efforts. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only was the presentation well received, but investigators across the country had been closely following Colorado’s recent legislative efforts including the anti-surveillance bill in 2010 and the licensing effort in 2011. NCISS leaders requested an article version of the presentation, which I submitted for consideration in the upcoming issue of the NCISS Report.

If you are a private investigator or a security professional and have not had the opportunity to attend a Hit the Hill, I highly recommend it. It was a privilege for me to be able to represent the investigative profession in lobbying at the national level. I felt like I was able to fulfill a bucket list item that I didn’t realize was on my bucket list until I took part in it. If you feel like it would be too daunting or intimidating to help investigators lobby on Capitol Hill, I can relate. However, what gave me the confidence to take part in Hit the Hill is the experience that I received from lobbying efforts in Colorado. Three years ago, I had absolutely no experience lobbying or testifying on legislative issues. However, with the assistance of other members of the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado, I was able to obtain a crash course in legislative efforts. In short, it’s beneficial to gain experience at the state level, so you can then take that experience to Washington, D.C. From the SAAB presentation, to the lobbying experience, to the camaraderie of nationally recognized investigators and security professionals, to visiting the nation’s memorials, to the space shuttle Discovery flying over D.C. on the day of the NCISS lobbying, it was truly an awesome experience. For more information on NCISS, please visit http://www.nciss.com/

Colorado Private Investigator Licensing has been restored! The Department of Regulatory Agency’s website now has everything private investigators need to apply for a Colorado license. In late March, a PPIAC member noted that Arapahoe Community College was only offering ink fingerprinting, and thus could not submit the prints electronically to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. Recently, I went to ACC to have my prints taken, and they are now offering electronic fingerprinting which can be submitted directly to CBI. The fingerprinting fee may vary from location to location, but I liked ACC for it’s electronic submission to CBI. Between that and DORA’s application, the licensing process is not very time consuming compared to other license applications for other states. If you plan to have your license before July 1st, make sure you submit your application and fingerprints ASAP. I recommend definitely getting everything submitted by June 1st. It seems like it’s still very early, but there is time needed for the CBI backgrounds and the applications to be processed. Some investigators have already been issued license numbers, so though the licensing program does not become effective until July 1st, DORA has started processing applications! Click here to go to DORA’s website: http://www.dora.state.co.us/private-investigator/index.htm

For Colorado private investigators interested in attending the June PPIAC meeting, Jane Cracraft, a past President of PPIAC is scheduled to give a presentation entitled When Databases Aren’t Enough. Jane’s credentials and accomplishments include being a Certified Criminal Defense Investigator, a Certified Legal Investigator, a part time instructor at CU-Boulder for several years, a contributing author to reference texts published by Lawyers and Judges Publishing Company, a founding member of the Boulder Press Club, and Associate Editor for Professional Investigator Magazine among other accomplishments. If you subscribe to PI Magazine, the June 2012 issue features an article by Jane, and is an indication of the caliber of this investigator Colorado has to offer.

Also in the current issue of PI Magazine is a short article written by PPIAC’s own Jennifer Brown on Improving Witness Appearance. I hope to see you at the next PPIAC meeting! Details are on the PPIAC website at http://ppiac.org/info/june-2012-meeting

Colorado Private Investigator News Feb. 2012

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado Senior Member Ricky Bennett will be the presenter of PPIAC’s first Quarterly Training Session which is scheduled for March 16th, 2012 with a venue in the Denver metro area.  Mr. Bennett will present a day-long class on Interviews. Keep an eye out on VP of Training Tan Smyth’s announcement for further details.
300. Most of us, when we hear this number, the first thing that might come to mind is the blockbuster movie that was released a few years ago. However, that number also holds a great deal of significance to Colorado private investigators. 300 (and counting) are the number of private investigators that are interested in Colorado’s Voluntary Private Investigator License. The spreadsheet with the contact information of the 300 was presented to Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies. Further information can be located at http://www.dora.state.co.us/private-investigator/index.htm
PPIAC is diligently monitoring bills that have recently been introduced at the 2012 Colorado Legislative Session. HB12-1036, which is to provide clarification to the Colorado Open Records Act, was recently introduced and could potentially have a significant impact to private investigators if passed. The two page bill, which seeks to provide clarification of the exemption from the Colorado Open Records Act, might appear to be non-impactful, but it is far from it. In its current form, the bill specifies that the custodian of records may deny the right of inspection, on the ground that disclosure to the applicant would be contrary to the public interest, any records of the investigations conducted by any sheriff, prosecuting attorney, or police department, or any investigatory files compiled for any other civil, administrative, or criminal law enforcement purpose. Can there possibly be a much larger swath of a denial of records at the discretion of the custodian? Keep in mind these files were previously viewable in accordance to the Open Records Act. PPIAC has been working to create exemptions for licensed private investigators. If exemptions for licensed private investigators cannot be achieved, PPIAC will likely have no choice but to oppose this bill in its entirety alongside other opponents. You can read the bill by going to http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2012a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/F910975289BD2B1D87257981007F3A47?open&file=1036_01.pdf
HB12-1231, with regards to the Colorado Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, looks to be a much friendlier bill to the investigative profession. This bill seeks to bring the Colorado DPPA in line with the Federal DPPA. The PPIAC Board has not had the opportunity to review this bill, and thus has not taken an official position on the bill, but I anticipate the bill will receive the support of the association as it recognizes the licensed private investigator when requesting records from the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles.
In the last couple of years, there has been an ever-increasing concern and focus on privacy, identity theft protection, and limiting access to public records. While legislators may introduce bills with good intentions, many of these bills can quickly go awry if not closely monitored and guided by PPIAC. It’s this type of legislative representation where an association can demonstrate its value and importance to its membership, and it’s this type of legislative representation PPIAC continues to provide for the benefit of the members year in and year out.
Please consider joining PPIAC in March for a Background/Integrity Interviews topic presented by Steve and Erica Davis.

Colorado Private Investigator Bill Update

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

After months of emails, networking, testifying, and lobbying, HB 1012 was postponed indefinitely on May 5, 2010. The vote was close: 4-3. HB10-1012 would have limited the use of legitimate sureillance for workers compensations claims in Colorado. Every year, legislation throws curveballs at the insurance industry. HB 1012 would have drastically impacted the ability of employers and insurance companies to conduct surveillance on suspected fraudulent or exaggerated worker’s compensation claims. This was also a critical bill among Colorado private investigators; had it passed, other states might have used it as a template to affect the way surveillance was used on worker’s compensation claims. HB 1012 did not die easily. It took a concentrated effort from everyone involved to bring about its defeat; from concerned business owners, attorneys, insurance claims adjusters and risk managers, to professional private investigators, lobbyists and various associations. Through enlightening letters, phone calls, assisting lobbyists, and even lining up at the Capitol to voice our concerns at the hearings, we all made this happen. API would like to extend a personal thank you to each and every person that took the time and effort to let the Colorado Legislature know your feelings on this matter. This outcome could have been disastrous for the industry- but for your participation. You all deserve a hearty, “Well done!”

Selecting a Colorado Private Investigator

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Selecting a qualified private investigative company is far more complex than may be imagined.  Private investigators not only work the cases that their clients give them; conscientious agencies have a duty to insure their clients are getting the very best return for their money.  Is their client happy with the report?  Is there enough communication with the client?  Will their product stand up on its own in court? To make things even more difficult, clients and the general public must now be aware of the latest rash of fake private investigators who are setting up flashy websites and/or advertising on Craigslist. Problems with fake and unscrupulous investigators tend to be more severe in higher population areas such as Denver. These problems would be expected out of a state like Colorado, where there has been no licensing standards for decades. However, the problem with fake and even unlicensed private investigators is also cropping up in states where licensing is mandatory. When hiring a private investigative agency, do not hesitate to request credentials and ask questions.

Colorado legislators are questioning if private investigators know the difference between surveillance and stalking/harrassment or know the laws concerning wiretapping/evesdropping. Now more than ever make sure the private investigators YOU hire know the difference. Your case depends on it.

Colorado Private Investigators Bill Passes Committee In Denver

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

On Wednesday, April 6th, 2011, the Colorado House Appropriations Committee convened at the Capitol in Denver, Colorado and passed HB11-1195, the Colorado Private Investigator Licensing bill with a vote of 12-1. The PI license bill has now passed through the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 11-0, the House Finance Committee with a vote of 8-5, and the House Appropriations Committee with a vote of 12-1. The next step for HB1195 is the House floor where it will be voted on by the Colorado House of Representatives.

Colorado has not had licensing in the state since 1977. Several attempts at licensing have been introduced by the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado in the past, only to have those attempts die. The Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado finally believes it has a winning formula in the form of a bill which has bi-partisan sponsorship. HB1195 is sponsored by Bob Gardner (R) in the House as well as by Su Ryden (D) in the House. In the Senate, HB1195 is sponsored by Linda Newell (D). By laying the foundation of bi-partisan sponsorship as well as riding on the momentum and experience created by the defeat of Colorado HB10-1012 (also known as the Colorado anti-surveillance bill) PPIAC has gained unprecedented ground in the goal of having its professional minded investigators be able to hold the title of Colorado Licensed Private Investigator.

How DORAs Recommendation Affects Colorado Private Investigators

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Since 1977, Colorado private investigators have been without PI licensing. The Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado, founded in 1978, was formed to improve the credibility of private investigators, and to provide guidelines for a licensing statute in the State of Colorado. In looking at PPIAC’s history, the statement, “Our continuing efforts to strive for licensure remain undaunted” still holds true today.

Early this year, PPIAC brought forth HB11-1195, a voluntary private investigator license bill in anticipation of a favorable recommendation from DORA, the Department of Regulatory Agencies located in Denver, Colorado. On February 17, 2011, DORA issued the 2011 Sunrise Review for Private Investigators. In the 21 page report, DORA discusses several levels of regulation: Licensure, Certification, Registration, and Title Protection. Each level of regulation offers different levels of restriction and public protection.

According to DORA’s report, since 1984 there have been four sunrise reviews (1985, 1987, 2000, and 2006) related to private investigators. Each of the four sunrise reviews recommended against regulation due to the lack of harm to consumers. According to DORA’s most recent (2011) report, there now is “a potential that consumers may be harmed financially by PIs if they fail to complete agreed upon services. As such, PIs should be regulated by the State of Colorado and be required to possess either a surety bond or errors and omissions insurance.”

So what is the significance of DORA’s 2011 recommendation? First, DORA has issued a recommendation that is opposite and contrary to its four prior sunrise review recommendations. Moreover, DORA has recommended that Colorado private investigators be regulated. According to DORA’s report, licensure, certification, registration, and title protection fall under their definition of regulation.

For PPIAC’s licensing effort, the worst case scenario would have been for DORA to issue a recommendation consistent with the four prior sunrise reviews. With DORA’s 2011 Sunrise Review, Colorado has a non-investigator entity and a State entity for that matter issue a recommendation that private investigators be regulated as a result of public harm. DORA’s recommendation thus helps pave the way for Colorado private investigators to raise the standard of professionalism as well as to provide a united, vetted voice through a licensing program.

Please visit www.ppiac.org for more information on the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado.