Last Wednesday, a hearing was held regarding a new bill that would require Colorado private investigators to obtain a state license. The bill was approved 3-2 by the Democratic committee, and if passed, would make Colorado the 45th state that requires licensing for private investigators.
Currently, private investigators in Colorado only need a business license to operate. Senator Linda Newell, the bill’s strongest supporter, believes that regulation is necessary in order to protect consumers. There have been several documented cases across the country where unscrupulous individuals have used the guise of private investigator to access personal information. The type of information found can be anything from home addresses and social security numbers. Some victims have even been stalked by criminals who claimed to be a private investigator. The new bill would require potential investigators to undergo background checks and pass a jurisprudence exam. Different levels of licensing may also make their way into the bill. Conditions such as completing an undetermined minimum amount years of experience and undergoing training would allow individuals to receive a “Level II” license. These provisions wouldn’t cost extra and are meant to reward the private investigators that have spent several years in the field.
Despite these concerns, the bill faces strong opposition by those who believe it’s a way to eliminate solitary investigators. If the bill is passed, these investigators will be affected the most. Many private eyes are retired law enforcement officials who cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars a year to maintain a license. They would rather have the individuals who abuse the system punished instead of putting restrictions on everyone. Newell and other supporters feel that this isn’t enough, and are putting an emphasis on prevention rather than punishment. She maintains that the purpose of the bill is to protect both investigators and consumers.
In the past, Colorado lawmakers have tried to come up with ways to offer licenses to private eyes. There have been several attempts at making licenses mandatory, but all of these fell through. As a result, the Office of Private Investigator Voluntary Licensure was created in 2012. Right now, only 86 investigators operating in Colorado have earned a voluntary license. Deemed a failure by both sides, lawmakers agree that the voluntary license program needs to end, regardless of the outcome of the bill hearing. They relate the lack of interest in the program to the increase in the annual fees that licensed investigators are required to pay. Senator Newell took responsibility for the failed program, stating that this new bill is her way of fixing it.
In order to appeal to both sides, Newell has begun adding new amendments to the bill. Some of these may include allowing private investigators to join a firm that holds a license so that they wouldn’t be held to the same standards that the firm owners and solitary investigators must meet. Discussions on lowering the cost of licenses are also in the works to make them more attainable to qualified individuals. Although the bill has a few more hoops to jump through, the outcome is looking promising for its supporters.