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Domestic Violence Advocates and Legislators Implore Governor Polis to NOT Repeal Private Investigator Licensure in Colorado

Saturday, July 11, 2020 1:34 PM | Andrea Orozco



Repeal would only benefit “sex offenders, stalkers and scammers” say advocates


A coalition of Colorado legislators, domestic violence advocates, and business people today implored Governor Polis to sign HB20-1207, a bill that would extend licensing for private investigators. In 2015, Colorado became the 45th state to require licensure for private investigators. Colorado’s licensure law requires that private investigators pass a test on Colorado’s laws, privacy protections, and comply with non-discrimination. The law also protects consumers through continuation of a bond requirement, and by prohibiting sex offenders, felons and persons with restraining orders from obtaining private investigator licenses.

The bill extends Private investigator licensing for an additional five years. According to John Morris, Chairman of the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado (PPIAC), "Without this vital piece of legislature, Colorado residents would be open prey to unscrupulous investigators who would take advantage of an open-door policy of practice. Colorado’s Private Investigator licensure program protects Colorado residents from individuals such as sexual predators and other individuals with serious felony records from practicing in the legal field of Private Investigations. It also requires that every PI carry a surety bond to protect consumers from fraud and holds every PI to specific ethical and confidential standards."  The Department of Regulatory Agencies has recommended the sunset of licensing for private investigators due to a lack of harm. Roberto Orozco, VP of Legislative Affairs for PPIAC stated, "DORA is partially correct: the current law has greatly reduced harm because it keeps stalkers, sex offenders, and felons from marketing themselves as private investigators in Colorado." Orozco noted that the bill passed both chambers of the legislature with overwhelming support.

The prime sponsor of the bill, Representative Jovan Melton (D-Aurora,) said that he was proud of the broad bipartisan coalition of legislators who supported the effort to maintain private investigation licensure. “Policy makers on both sides of the aisle recognize the harm that would be done by allowing sex offenders and stalkers from marketing themselves as private investigators. We’re not talking about the regulation of landscapers, here. This is serious business and a failure to sign this bill by Governor Polis will likely result in an innocent citizen being victimized by a predator. I don’t want to see a bill next session named after an abused person."

Domestic violence advocate Lydia Waligorski of Violence Free Colorado said that passage of the bill is crucial to maintaining the safety of domestic violence victims. “Prior to licensure of private investigators, advocates across Colorado would receive significant concerns from domestic violence survivors regarding individuals who presented themselves to be PIs who survivors felt were seeking information inappropriately from them. These encounters could very much be described as attempts of third-party contact toward protected persons and stalking. The licensure of private investigators provides a necessary protection for victims to know what a legitimate business contact may be versus what is potentially a life-threatening interaction with a stalker. People have been found and harm has happened. We supported the original licensure to quell unethical practices, and signs indicate this process has worked as licensure has created much needed rules of engagement for the location of domestic violence victims. “

Colorado’s PI licensing law along with rules issued through the DORA prohibits an investigator from giving out information on a protected person. Waligorski added, “This bill is important because without licensing, that protection for our most vulnerable, court-protected people goes away. There will be nothing to keep an abuser from using an unlicensed, unethical PI from seeking the whereabouts of a protected person. For these reasons alone, Governor Polis should sign HB-20-1207.” 

Historically, Colorado was one of the first states in the United States to license private detectives beginning in 1887. The law was ruled to have an insufficient definition for detective business in 1977 and the state went without a licensure law as other states were tightening up their P.I. licensure laws in response to consumer concerns about data theft, identity theft, stalking by people posing as private investigators. In 2015, Colorado again began licensing private investigators.

Morris concluded, "We urge Governor Polis to consider the ramifications for the safety of Colorado residents when he considers HB20-1207, and we plead with him to sign this critical bill into law. We also urge everyone that reads this letter or accompanying press release to contact the Governor and voice your support for HB20-1207 and request Governor Polis to sign this bill into law to continue the successful licensure program with strong consumer protections and at no cost to taxpayers.

Colorado Representative Jovan Melton 

John Morris, Chairman of the Board, Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado, info@ppiac.org

Robert Orozco, VP Of Legislative Affairs, PPIAC (720)933-9301

Lydia Waligorski, Violence Free Colorado, lwaligorski@violencefreeco.org 

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