Posts Tagged ‘Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado’

Colorado Private Investigators Seek Licensing

Monday, April 22nd, 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:

Continuing Education and the Licensed Investigator

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

In order to make the most efficient use of time and energy at work, most people in this day and age make use of the latest technology and knowledge. For example, if you’re driving an unfamiliar route, you might make use of a GPS navigation device in your car or on your smartphone instead of stopping at a gas station and asking for directions. You’ve hence adapted to the most recent technological advancements.

Likewise, licensed professional investigators are constantly striving to stay abreast of the latest technologies, trends and legal changes to ensure their efforts are completely lawful and make the most efficient and effective use of time and effort. Both the client and the private investigator are rewarded with the advancement, skills and knowledge earned by continuing education. Are you using a licensed private investigator? To verify if the private investigator you are using is licensed in Colorado, or for more information on Colorado’s PI licensing program, please visit .  To locate a qualified professional investigator through the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado, please visit .

The Importance of Private Investigator Conferences

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

The Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado recently hosted the annual Conference as well as a Private Investigator Core Curriculum day. At these two events, I referred to a recent New York Times article which points out that professionals in different fields and industries are realizing the need to constantly adapt, to retool, and to train to remain competitive in their fields. Workers and business professionals alike are having to figure out what new skills will make them move valuable or simply keep them from obsolescence. The article went on to explain how being a generalist is unwise, and why workers should strive to cross train.With that in mind, PPIAC held topics and presentations at the PICC and Conference designed to provide investigators with current investigative trends, techniques, and specialized training.

The Conference included an investigator ethics presentation which had an electronic instant polling questionnaire. The wide variety of answers at the beginning of the presentation proved to be an eye opening experience for attendees. However, towards the end of the presentation, the answers became much more consistent among the attendees. The conference also included presentations on social media, homicides, concealed carry, death and injury causation, e-evidence retention, vehicular accident investigations, a panel discussion, self publishing, and inmate interviews. The vendors provided some excellent profession-specific products and services. The keynote speaker provided a loose, lively presentation on the history and progress of Westword magazine. I thank all the conference sponsors, vendors, notebook advertisers, material/prize donors, attendees, and last but not least, the presenters who helped make this conference a success.
While at the conference, I had the privilege of presenting this year’s Lifetime Membership Award to Dean Beers for his outstanding contributions to PPIAC. From his Board contributions as the VP of Membership, to Board Chairman, as well as his contributions to the PI licensing effort, to his well attended and received presentations at PPIAC monthly meetings and conferences, the Board had an easy decision in approving Dean for this well-deserved award.
The details for the PPIAC Holiday party have been finalized! This year PPIAC will be holding the party on December 15th from 6-9 p.m. at Water 2 Wine located at 9608 E. Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village, CO 80112. Water 2 Wine will be offering a cash bar with any glass of wine from their menu at $5/glass. Parking is free with easy access off I-25. There will be food catered by the Food Guy Catering. In order to plan for the food catering, entrance to the Holiday party will be limited to PPIAC members and 1 guest only, and RSVP’s are REQUIRED. Here is the website link to Water 2 Wine:
Are you a private investigator and not a member of PPIAC? Contact PPIAC and apply for membership TODAY to take advantage of the great benefits PPIAC offers to its members! Here is the website for more information:

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.

Private Investigator Core Curriculum Schedule

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

PICC (Private Investigator Core Curriculum) October 2012

PICC is a seminar provided by the PPIAC (Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado) offering information on the PPIAC and providing education on some of the pressing issues surrounding the industry of investigations.

PICC is offered as a free seminar on October 17th, 2012 at the Antlers Hilton in Colorado Springs, 8am-5pm.

Attendees must RSVP to and receive a confirmation email, no later than October 10th, 2012.  Seating is limited, so don’t wait!

Seminar Schedule

8:00-8:30     Registration/Welcome

8:30-9:30     Eugene Ferraro: What’s new in FCRA/ Permissible Purposes

9:30-9:45     Break

9:45-11:00   Dean Beers:  Database usage/Basic Skip Tracing

11:00-12:00            Lunch (on your own)

12:00-1:30   Robert Orozco and Ryan Johnston :  Surveillance Investigator Safety

1:30-1:45     Break

1:45- 2:45    Tracers Info:  How to get the best from your database

 2:45-3:00    Break

3:00-4:30     Gene Ferraro: Marketing your business


Please note that lunch is on your own.  Notebooks are provided to attendees.

Questions?  Direct them to:

Tan Smyth

VP of Training, PPIAC


Colorado Springs Private Investigations Conference

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado Conference video 

From PPIAC VP of Training Tan Smyth:   This year is a veritable smorgasbord of topics: between October 17th to the morning of Saturday the 20th, we have 14 fantastic speaker presentations.

$200.00 and an RSVP to the PICC seminar is all it takes to join us for this incredible deal.

Take a look at the new events brought to this year’s conference:

PICC– a free day of private investigator training, right before the conference. Marketing your business, Surveillance/Investigator Safety, Database research, the Basics of Skip-Tracing, and FCRA/Permissible Purposes. All that’s required is an RSVP, and a confirmation email to reserve your spot. Hurry, because seats are limited. For more information on PICC, please refer to this link where PInow asked VP of Training Tan Smyth some questions on this training event:

Investigator Panel– This is especially relevant for new people that are trying to figure out a specialty, but aren’t certain, as well as for people seeking to change or add new areas of investigations to their business. We will have a panel of investigators in different areas of specialty, ready to address your questions, such as: what does an insurance defense investigator do? Is surveillance in high demand, and is it advisable for a novice investigator to start with surveillance as a specialty? What do you need to do to become a criminal defense investigator? …and more!

Our latest day ends at 4:30 pm, which means there is still plenty of time for people to enjoy the sights the Colorado Springs area has to offer. Networking is highly encouraged; in this tight economy it’s more important than ever to get your name out there so when people need to refer a job out, they will reach for YOUR business card.

This year’s banquet promises to be a good one: we have Westword’s editor Patty Calhoun as a keynote speaker!

Still not convinced? Our Sponsors and vendors are top-notch:  Tracers Information Systems, Yergey Insurance, IRB, PInow/Servenow, NAIS, and CRC Press will be showing their support and will have tables. We also have advertisers in our conference notebooks; local businesses are also demonstrating support for Colorado PIs. There will be books, gadgets and services galore to help you with YOUR business.

Take advantage of this event and come network with us.

Expanding Your Presence as a Private Investigator

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

In the last several months, the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado has made a push to expand its presence and earn greater recognition across the country. One of the ways PPIAC has done this is by being involved and partnering with other associations, whether they are other state associations, regional associations, national associations, or specialty / certification specific associations.

I recently returned from the National Council of Investigative and Security Services Conference which was held in Boston. PPIAC was represented by several PPIAC members, including past Presidents. There are many reasons why Colorado private investigators should consider attending national investigator association conferences and events. With NCISS, for example, you have an organization which provides an effective voice on federal legislative issues. Also, by attending these events, you can network with investigators across the country. These are just two of the many reasons for being members of and attending events such as what NCISS offers. For more information on NCISS, please visit .

I have often heard of local, small investigator agencies wonder how they can possibly be competitive against national investigative agencies which have investigators available in most if not every state in the US. Being a part of investigator associations, some of which have a national presence, provides an answer to this dilemma. By forming networks with investigators in other states, local investigators can expand their reach. You no longer have to wonder how you can pull a record from a court in California if you have an investigator in that region you can turn to. Better yet, if you get to know the board members of the state associations, CALI being the example of California, you are able to expand your reach to cover literally every city and county of California for which you might ever need to fulfill an investigative request. 

PPIAC’s website now has a page with a list of Colorado’s licensed members. Here is the link to the page:

Last but not least, the PPIAC annual conference is just one month away! Please get your payments sooner than later in if you plan to attend the conference. By doing so, the conference committee can better plan for the total number of attendees. For the latest information on the conference, go to . New this year is the Private Investigator Core Curriculum which will be held on October 17th, one day before the start of the conference. This unique program is free to attend but an RSVP is required. Details are on the conference web page. Thanks for your continued support of Colorado’s professional private investigator association!

Colorado Private Investigators July Update

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Even though there was no monthly meeting in July, the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado has been busy with other events, activities, and updates. For those who were anxiously awaiting for Colorado’s PI license to take effect, that date finally arrived on July 1st! I’ve already heard from several Colorado licensed private investigators who have received case work directly attributed to being licensed. One of the goals of bringing licensing to CO is to restore consumer confidence in the use of private investigators. It seems like that goal is already being realized. Of course, obtaining a license is no guarantee that a private investigator will receive more work. However, the way I see it, at a price of $320, all I need is half a day’s work to recoup my cost. With that in mind, I like my chances.

Currently, DORA shows there are 47 Colorado licensed PI’s. In speaking with several private investigators, the two main reasons why those who are otherwise qualified have not obtained licenses are cost and lack of time. For the cost portion, the fee is one factor that could not be controlled by the investigative community. DORA, being in charge of administering the program, set the fees. I know that with the economy, times have been tough for many of you. Please bear in mind though, that with just one case you can potentially recoup that cost. For those of you who have not been able to make the time to get your licenses, I’m glad to hear that you’re busy with work and personal activities, including enjoying the always-too-short summer season. However, make no mistake, your support and participation in Colorado’s licensing program is absolutely crucial to the program’s success! In fact, the participation of each and every investigator who is qualified for a Colorado PI license is needed to ensure a long-lived program and the potential for lower fees in future years.

The DORA PI License Program Manager, has agreed take time out of her schedule to be at the August 1st PPIAC meeting to provide information about the licensing program, as well as to answer any questions. Please pencil this date in your calendars and plan to attend if you are interested in learning more about what it means to be a licensed professional.

I was fortunate enough to be able to be a guest presenter at PPIAC’s training seminar on July 13. I always embrace any opportunity to gain more experience in giving presentations. I also learned a lot from the other presenters, and even learned a few new investigative tricks from some of the attendees. The fresh, creative techniques that new investigators bring to the profession never fails to amaze me.

The Conference committee has just released information for the upcoming conference to be held in Colorado Springs this coming October 2012! This year’s conference will showcase the amazing quality of professional investigators that call Colorado their home! Many of these names will already be familiar, some may not. If you’re thinking that you’ve already heard some of these presentations, think again! This panel of speakers will present information that will no doubt be valuable and worth your time and money. Please go to for more information.

I have started a new column on the home page of the PPIAC website. The column is entitled President’s Recommendation, and to kick off the column, I chose to profile a book that I recently read. It is entitled Trials and Tribulations of a Real Life Private Eye by John Lajoie. I recommend any private investigator, both highly experienced as well as new to the profession read this book. This is not a how-to book on investigations. Rather, it is a book that provides a no-nonsense insight into the life and mindset of what it takes to be a professional private investigator and business owner. See if you can spot the PPIAC member whose work in a high profile case is mentioned in the book! Please visit for more information on the President’s Recommendation column.

The August PPIAC meeting is a little over a week away. Jeff Saviano of JDS Criminalistics in Colorado Springs will be providing a presentation in Forensic Photography. This is a can’t miss meeting that will provide valuable information to help you not only take better photographs but to also help you analyze photographs. Practically every investigator provides some type of photographic documentation to a client at least once in any given year, or otherwise has to analyze photographic documentation/evidence. I look forward to seeing you on August 1st at the PPIAC meeting in Englewood, CO! Please go to for more information and to RSVP.

Private Investigator Training in Denver Area

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Denver, CO – For Immediate Release

The Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado will be continuing its training series on Friday, July 13th. PPIAC presents the 2012 Summer Training seminar: “So You Want to Be an Investigator…”

Speakers:  Eugene Ferraro, Tan Smyth and Andrea Orozco

High demand from new PPIAC investigators, as well as those interested in the field of private investigation prompted the PPIAC to create this program.  Topics in this one-day seminar include:  Fundamentals of Starting your Own Business; Business Development and Client Development; Selecting your Specialty; Report Writing and Invoicing; Tools and Resources; Subcontracting and much, much more!  Sign up now – space is limited.   Email for a sign-up sheet.

Sign-up sheets must be returned to no later than July 6th, 2012.

PPIAC Members: $80.00                  Non-PPIAC Members: $95.00

Training is at the Doubletree Hotel, 7801 East Orchard Road, Greenwood Village, CO.  Training begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m.  Source materials and snacks are included; lunch is on your own.  There will be a survey passed out with the materials.  Your participation is greatly appreciated.

Payments may be made through Paypal at the site, or may be mailed to: John Castellano, Treasurer PPIAC, P.O. Box 3005, Littleton, CO 80161; or you may simply bring your payments at the beginning of the seminar.  Questions may be directed to Tan Smyth, VP of Training, PPIAC at  Payments must be received no later than the day of the seminar.

To pay online, please visit:

Colorado HB12-1036

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Attention Attorneys, Paralegals, Insurance Professionals, and Anyone who Relies on Open Records Access. This may affect due diligence and records retrieval on your cases! 

Advanced Professional Investigations wants to bring awareness to a bill which will limit open records access in Colorado. HB12-1036 is veiled as a “Clarification” but in reality restricts access defined in the Colorado Open Records Act.

Colorado private investigators and our colleagues nationwide, are concerned about this bill in its current form. There is no provided foundation addressing the need for clarification, and there are no guidelines for denial of records, only at the discretion of the custodian of records. That is dangerous to our profession, and the citizens of Colorado for whom Open Records are designed so that they can be informed and represented by their government.  This bill as introduced does not specify any department, office, or agency for which it applies – and specifically does not mention the AG’s office or limit to an active investigation. The bill gives complete discretion to the custodian of records, which are agents and clerks who are often far removed from those that may have a different intent for the purpose of not disclosing specific records. There is no provision for what would constitute public interest. Moreover, ‘public interest’ is both not defined in any statute, and the concept of open records is expressly for the purpose of ‘public interest’.

Here’s the latest update on HB1036. This bill, which the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado has opposed from the onset, was met with resistance at the Senate Judiciary hearing in Denver, CO. Several of the Senate Judiciary Committee members had the same concerns PPIAC has regarding the bill. The committee members questioned the proponents of the bill with these concerns. It seems the concerns were not adequately addressed by the proponents, as the committee Chair Morgan Carroll decided to lay over the vote on this bill while the committee gathers more information and even contemplates amendments.

Keep sending those letters! Make sure you voice your concerns to the committee if you have not already done so. It is making a difference! However, let’s not leave anything to chance. Now that there’s more time to work with before the vote, get the word out. Please send attorneys and media contacts a link to the bill so they are aware of the impacts it will have to their businesses and professions! Here is the link to the reengrossed, and most current version of the bill:$FILE/1036_rn2.pdf

For more information on PPIAC please visit