Private investigators in Colorado must continue to carry their licenses for another year despite the fact Governor Jared Polis recently vetoed a bill, effectively killing off licensing for PIs. Jill Sarmo, a Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) spokeswoman, responded to Simon Crittle's questions below.
1) Are licenses valid through to next June? Or should PIs discard them now?
Licenses are valid through Aug. 31, 2021, when the one-year windup period expires.
2) If they are no longer valid, will DORA be offering refunds?
Private investigator 1 and 2 licenses are currently set to expire on May 31, 2021. While no policy is presently set on potential refunds, the possibility exists that the expiration date will be extended through the end of the windup period. Consistent with fee setting authority the division will utilize existing funding to administer the program through the wind up date, and does not anticipate additional fees, although the expiration date may necessarily be extended as part of the wind up process.
3) Do PIs have to maintain surety bonds through September? Next June?
Surety bonds are required through the entirety of licensure, which currently would end on Aug. 31, 2021.
4) Is DORA pleased the governor vetoed the bill given DORA opposed it?
Governor Polis cited COPRRR’s (Colorado Office of Policy, Research & Regulatory Reform) Sunset review of this program in his letter vetoing House Bill 1207. Neither the office nor the department will comment further.
5) What do you say to critics such as the Profession Private Investigators Association of Colorado who say consumers should “beware” as they are no longer protected by unscrupulous PIs?
Sunset is a statutorily mandated, data driven process. The data verify that while prior to licensing there may have been a thought that the public could be financially harmed by not regulating PIs, the research by COPRRR did not find that harm occurs. The data illustrate that while the number of licenses issued to PIs has increased from zero to nearly 900 during the time licensing has existed, disciplinary actions against licensed individuals are virtually nonexistent. When discipline has been taken, the infractions have not been directly associated with the harming of a consumer. This verifies the conclusions of five sunrise reviews that found the likelihood that a consumer would be harmed by a PI was minimal, and does not meet the threshold required for an occupational licensure program in a state where we endeavor to maintain only data and consumer protection-driven regulatory programs.
At the same time as licensing for private investigators (PI) in Colorado is being abolished, Colorado Springs police officers have faced disciplinary actions, in part, for conducting off-duty investigations without have PI licenses.
Nine Colorado Springs police officers took part in off-duty operations that included placing trackers on vehicles, mounting a secret camera to monitor a house in El Paso County, digging through trash and following people.
The disciplinary action, first revealed publicly by the Colorado Springs Independent, came after officers were found to be working for iXero LLC, a private security business owned by Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell.
Five of the nine officers were reassigned to patrol duties. They also faced suspensions. The most severe, 60 hours (about $3,000) in lost pay, was against one officer who recruited other officers for the private investigative work.
The officers are alleged to have used Colorado Springs Police Department phones, computers and cameras, and some carried their department-issued weapons and badges.
One officer is even alleged to tried to goad a “target” into ranting disparaging remarks about President Donald Trump.
The activities were a violation of CSPD policies, including a ban on use of police equipment for private purposes and a mandate that officers receive permission in advance for outside work.
Deputies from the El Paso Contry Sheriff’s Office are also alleged to have done off-duty work for iXero.
Internal affairs investigators suggested some actions by the law enforcement officers might have violated state laws against trespassing and conducting investigations without a private investigator’s license.
However, last month, Governor Jared Polis decided to veto a bill, which would have continued the requirement that private investigators in Colorado be licensed.
The governor’s veto ends Colorado’s 9-year-old PI licensing regime as his signature was needed to extend existing regulations for another five years.
In vetoing the bill, Governor Polis, who last year vetoed three other unrelated licensing bills, said “licensing is often not superior to other forms of consumer protection.”
Jason Mikesell said: “My private business has no relationship to the Teller County Sheriff’s Office.”
He also said he takes no responsibility for the jeopardy in which officers found themselves by working for him, and that no laws were broken.
iXero, which is based in Woodland Park, describes itself as the “world's premiere security provider” and “brings together the best and most experienced security professionals from the military, law enforcement, and cyber security fields to design unparalleled security solutions for any applications.”
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