The pandemic has been tough on process servers. Socially distancing when serving process is almost impossible. It has meant the industry has shed a lot of servers and new safety precautions might be here to stay. But Steven Glenn, head of the Colorado Process Servers Association, says things will heat up fast once the pandemic ends. He has urged law firms and private investigation businesses to prepare for the coming onslaught. Simon Crittle asked him these five questions.
1) The pandemic has been ongoing for much of 2020. Has it had much of an effect on the business of serving process? Has it slowed down? Were people forced out as worked dried up?
We closed our business the day Governor Polis announce the stay at home order. We re-opened May 26, 2020. Our volume was enough we did not want to lose clients, but not enough to pay all of our employees. Most of my employees stayed on unemployment. Currently our volume is at a stable 70 percent with much of that volume coming from new clients. My thoughts are most have lost their process servers while others are receiving poor service, i.e. work ethic and communication.
2) What advice have you given to servers at a time when we’ve been in lockdowns and told not get within six feet of people?
I advocated for following the changes and for staying at home. The courts shutdown except for cases regarding physical injury, along with some criminal cases. When the stay at home order was initiated many debt collectors pushed their servers out to effect service of process, because they knew the people would be home. Most served with no personal protect equipment, because it was not available, because the priority was for first responders to receive all personal protective equipment (PPE.) I, through our association held webinars, initial for our members, then hosting as close to 1,000 attendees, where we discussed being exempt to work, yet there was no exemption for us to pass on or contract the virus. Stimulus. Payroll protection. SBA loan forgiveness. EDIL loans. Personal finances. Protecting our businesses, our staff and servers. Social distancing. Hand sanitisers in the field and in the office.
3) When the pandemic first broke-out some process servers were cautious about serving people, particularly older folks. Is serving people still a concern and how are servers approaching the job now?
When the pandemic first broke out, servers should have been cautious about serving anyone, regardless of age and for their personal safety and that of their family and friends. Most servers are observing social distancing only because PPE was unavailable. PPE is required in all office building and should be worn when attempting service at a residence.
4) Do you think the pandemic will have a long-term effect on the industry? If so, how? Or do you think it will return to normal once the virus finally goes away?
Yes, long term effects are clearly evident and what was normal will never be normal again. Even now, many servers have left the profession due to safety issues, most will never come back. Many law firms are dumping their current process servers due to lack of effort or lack of communication or both. Law firms are using this time to, for the lack of a better word, to audition new process servers. Our office will continue to require those walking into our office to subject to a temperature check. Should they fail or refuse, they will be asked to leave the office. After the temperature check they are directed to the hand sanitizer. I understand we can reduce sick days by using these tactics into the future and do not understand why we never thought of it before.
On another note, although there is a moratorium on evictions, many are not saving the money to catch up there rent payments, so unless the stimulus addresses this issue, there will be a ton of eviction in the near future. Court cases have been placed on hold and a ton of lawsuit will follow the pandemic, companies suing companies, companies suing individuals, individuals suing companies and individuals suing individuals.
The time is now for process servers/companies to prepare, upgrade, basically reassess their businesses for the onslaught of work coming our way. Many use the word pivot. We need to replace that word for preparation. Prepare to be better, more efficient in serving papers, procedures to communicate with client and staff. Those leaving this professional will regret it, as will those whom, did not take this down time to become a better version of themselves.
As we approach a second year with COVID-19, online education for private investigators is becoming ubiquitous. Webinars are now the method of choice for sharing information about emerging investigative techniques within the industry. Simon Crittle found four webinars which are well worth watching.
Three months after Governor Jared Polis vetoed a bill designed to continue the licensing regime for Colorado private investigators, effectively killing off licensing, the state government is still asking PIs to renew their licenses.
According to a document released by the Department of Regulator Agencies (DORA), PIs who didn’t renew their licenses at the appropriate time in May – before the governor issued his veto – are required to renew their licenses now.
“A private investigator who let his or her license lapse during the last renewal period is required to apply for reinstatement if they wish to continue practicing as a private investigator,” says DORA’s “FAQ” document about the windup of the regime.
The mixed messages are a result of the fact the governor’s veto didn’t immediately end PI licensing, which will potentially remain in place for another 11 months.
The FAQ says if a new license applicant meets all requirements, a reinstatement will run through May 31, 2021 but potentially could be extended by the division through the expiration of the windup period on August 31, 2021.
It is unclear if a private investigator who only entered the industry in recent months is now supposed to apply for a license, or not.
The delay in ending the licensing regime means Colorado PIs need to maintain their licenses, continue to possess surety bonds and potentially face disciplinary action for breaching licensing regulations under the old licensing rules.
“Complaints (against PIs) will continue to be accepted and processed through the end of the windup period on August 31, 2021,” says the FAQ. “Private investigators are still a regulated entity through that date.
The questions and answers provided by DORA are listed below:
Why will Private Investigators licensing no longer be under the regulatory authority of the Division of Professions and Occupations?
On July 11, 2020, Governor Jared Polis vetoed House Bill 20-1207: Concerning the Continuation of the Regulation of Private Investigators. In his veto letter, he cited the Colorado Office of Policy Research and Regulatory Reform (COPRRR) Sunset Review of this regulatory program and other factors leading to his action. The effect of the veto is that - after a one-year windup period extending through August 31, 2021 - private investigators will no longer be under the regulatory authority of the Division of Professions and Occupations and the Colorado Office of Private Investigator Licensure.
What is a Sunset review?
The Colorado General Assembly sets specific dates that a particular agency, board, or function of government will terminate unless the legislature passes new legislation to continue and the governor signs the legislation into law. So, the “sun sets” on the regulatory program if it is not reauthorized. In Colorado, a sunset review generally questions the need for regulation to protect the public. If regulation is determined to be necessary, the sunset review will look to maintain or establish the least restrictive level of regulation consistent with the public interest.
How long are licenses currently valid?
Licenses currently are valid through May 31, 2021, but could be extended in the future to reflect the expiration of the one-year windup period on August 31, 2021. More information will be sent to licensees closer to the May 31, 2021 expiration date on whether or not licenses will be extended throughout the entirety of the windup period.
Are all licenses invalid effective September 1, 2020?
No, licenses currently are valid through May 31, 2021 but may be extended in the future to reflect the expiration of the windup period. In order to practice, all private investigators must maintain an active license through the one-year wind up period, or up until August 31, 2021.
Will refunds be offered for partial licensure?
Licensure refunds may be issued on a prorated case-by-case basis. More information on how to request a licensure refund will be sent to licensees in the near future.
How long do private investigators need to carry surety bonds?
Surety bonds are required through the entirety of the windup period, or until August 31, 2021.
Will DPO still process new applications for private investigators, and if so, for how long?
Applications are still being accepted and processed through the conclusion of the windup period. Normal application fees will apply, and a person must possess a private investigator license if they wish to practice through the remainder of the wind-up period.
What if I didn’t renew my license in May 2020 but need to reinstate my license?
A private investigator who lets his or her license lapse during the last renewal period is required to apply for reinstatement if they wish to continue practicing as a private investigator. If the applicant meets all requirements, a reinstatement, will run through May 31, 2021 but potentially could be extended by the Division through the expiration of the windup period on August 31, 2021.
How will complaints be handled now that the profession is under a windup period?
Complaints will continue to be accepted and processed through the end of the windup period on August 31, 2021. Private investigators are still a regulated entity through that date.
Can I still be disciplined as a private investigator licensee during the windup period?
Yes, since the program is still in operation until August 31, 2021, the Division has jurisdiction and authority to regulate and discipline licensees.
What happens if I didn’t renew my license?
Private Investigators who did not renew their licenses cannot legally practice as a private investigator in Colorado without a valid license. Private investigators who did not renew during the May renewal period may apply to reinstate their license, and if the application is approved, may practice until May 31, 2021, unless extended due to the windup period.
Who should I contact if I have questions about my license?
Please send an email to DORA_DPO_Licensing@state.co.us for any specific questions you may have regarding your private investigator license.
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