I hope everyone is enjoying a good start to 2014. Its going to be a busy and exciting year at PPIAC. There’s a renewed focus on using technology to allow our non-metro members to participate in training events and meetings. We’re excited to be talking to organizations that want to partner with us to bring you additional opportunities for training and networking to help you grow your business. And, of course, we continue to try and raise the professional bar in Colorado by supporting legislation that requires a license to be a private investigator.
Today, Senate bill 14-133 was introduced. I’d like to take a moment and make sure everybody understands the intent of the bill. You can read the entire bill by following this link: http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2014a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont/A77F6AC902F65D5987257C3000063671?Open&file=133_01.pdf
First and foremost, the bill is an effort to bring every private investigator operating in Colorado under the oversight of the Department Of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). There will be no “voluntary” component. If you offer private investigative services (as defined in the bill), you will be required to do the following:
1. Pass a background check to ensure that your personal history is consistent with being entrusted with (often times) very sensitive, personal information – not only that of your client but that of the subject of your investigation. When I applied for my voluntary license, that cost me about $35 and I don’t see that changing.
2. Pass a “jurisprudence examination”. This exam will be a short test to make sure you understand the laws governing your profession in Colorado, from “How long does a license last?” to “Can I use tracking devices (GPS) on vehicles?”. The exam will be basic and broad in nature, and will require just a small amount of preparation on your part. I’m sure PPIAC will be holding training sessions to help our members (and even non-members) prepare for the test.
And that’s basically it. Satisfy #1 and #2 and you will be issued a “Level I” private investigator license. DORA will require that you maintain a small bond, which is what your client would go after if you were to disappear with their retainer or breached your contract. That kind of bond can usually be purchased for around $100/yr.
Now, here’s the most important part about this for many of our newer and/or less experience members. It is also important to newer and/or less experienced members outside of PPIAC. This license law is specifically designed to make sure that anybody with a clean background that wants to enter or stay in the profession has the ability to do so. There is no barrier to get a license, such as requiring a certain amount of hours or education. Just demonstrate that you have a clean background, pass a test and get a bond. That’s it. You’re licensed.
Another key provision of the proposed law is that PIs with more experience might consider applying for a “Level II” license. It doesn’t cost any more than a “Level I”, but it does designate you as a person with a certain amount of experience and/or training (that amount will be determined by DORA during its rule making phase). This provision in the bill was specifically designed to reward private investigators that spend years honing their craft. It is very important to acknowledge experience, and we believe this does just that.
And, of course, it always comes down to, “How much will it cost to get a license?” Well, the proposed legislation has been intentionally kept “light” in order to keep the licensing fee as low as possible. We understand in tough economic times, things can be tough. And even in good economies, starting a business is hard enough without having to pay large fees. 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.
The bill that is being sponsored by Senator Newell and is simply designed to protect consumers from people that have no business in our profession. Fraudsters, cheats and charlatans should not be private investigators. And it is designed so that nobody is put out of business or kept out of the profession based on experience or financial means.
Call To Action
Now, let me leave you with this final thought. It is a call to action. I urge all of our members to become involved, ask questions, and help us support this bill. Over the next couple of months, there will be a minority group in the industry that will oppose this measure by clouding the issues and making wild accusations and assumptions designed to confuse and obfuscate the intent of this bill. There will be attacks on this bill, the PPIAC and even personal attacks on some of its members – all designed to kill licensing in Colorado. Please do not be fooled or duped. Don’t sit back and let the leadership of PPIAC wage this campaign for you. We need your support. This is your industry and this your future. Please pick up the phone or answer the email when we contact you for support. Together, we can achieve professionalism and a standard of conduct that we can all be proud of.
Chairman of the Board