Colorado Looking to Require State Licensing for Private Investigators

Colorado is one of only six states in the Union that does not require private investigators to maintain a state license. Lawmakers, however, are in the midst of an ongoing debate about whether or not to reverse that by instituting state licensing a requirement for Colorado’s PIs.

A bill proposed by Democratic Senator Linda Newell would call for mandatory background checks and skills assessments for individuals conducting business and private investigators. Newell argues that if the state requires licensing for occupations like plumbers and barbers, then it only makes sense that private investigators – who conduct surveillance, search databases, and probe people’s private lives – should also be required to maintain a state license.

Supporters of the bill argue also that fraud and other unscrupulous practices would be reduced or possibly even eliminated by licensing requirements. Opponents, however, say that it would do more harm than good for investigators since many are retired law enforcement officers who do the work in order to earn some additional income. The licensing fees and other requirements involved in such a mandate, they say, would deter many PIs from maintaining their businesses, if for no other reason that it would make their practice cost prohibitive.

A recent hearing on the debate reached emotional proportions when one woman gave testimony about being forced to relocate out of state because her family was being stalked by a man who purported to be a private investigator. But opponents countered by claiming that while the woman’s situation requires acknowledgement, the types of individuals she experienced are few and far between in the private investigations industry, and they should be prosecuted under the same laws and with the same due process as any other criminal.

In the end, the bill was approved by a vote of 3-2 and is awaiting a full Senate decision.