Colorado Department of Regulatory Agency 2019 Sunset Review recommends the General Assembly sunset the Colorado Private Investigator Licensing Program
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
On October 15, 2019, the Department of Regulatory Agencies announced the completion of a year-long review of Colorado's mandatory private investigator licensing law that took effect in 2015. The review concluded that the licensing law was unnecessary due to lack of demonstratable harm.In other words, because the licensing program did not protect the public from any documented harm or risk of harm DORA recommended the mandatory licensing law be repealed by September of 2020.
See also: investigators weigh in on when to withhold a report and when not to.
In their November newsletter the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado (PPIAC) Vice President of Legislation, Robert Orozco announced the PPIAC's commitment to supporting and maintaining the mandatory licensing law for as long as possible. Disagreeing with the conclusion of DORA's Sunset Review, PPIAC Chair John Morris and members with specific examples of ethical violations from licensed and unlicensed private investigators have come forth with grievances. The PPIAC has also hired a lobbyist to work to maintain the program.
We will be posting updates on legislative hearings in the new year. Want to read DORA's sunset review? Go here for the full report.
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
The recovery can take months and even years. Some victims of slip and fall injuries never recover. In circumstances where investigations are vital to the outcome of legal claims, the atmospheric conditions surrounding accidents and injuries require expert witness testimony.
Of course, if you look out the window or step outside you already know that snow is falling. You can follow @MikeNelson247 on Twitter for a personable rundown on what the storm is doing using satellite radar analysis, get bird feeder tips and see cute dog photos. Broadcaster and Denver 7 chief meteorologist, Mike Nelson also does something he describes as, "forecasting in reverse."
Forensic meteorology was not what Nelson aspired to do as a child. “I liked watching storms and anticipating what would happen next with the sky,” explains Nelson. “You get more experience and realize how weather effects everybody.”
See also: Apps for private investigators - Dark sky weather prediction software's unique "time machine" feature.
Looking back now, thirty of the forty years he has spent reporting on weather have also included providing forensic meteorology consultations and expert witness testimony.
I met Mike last week at a Denver Press Club event. He was guest bartending to benefit the Colorado nonprofit animal adoption, 501(c)3, Pawsco. We chatted about how he assists personal injury law firms with everything from slip and fall cases to fire investigations. Elucidating how atmospheric conditions lead to lighting strike cases and falls is such a niche industry that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't even provide it's own listing but instead includes it in under their Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)'s "Atmospheric Scientist, Including Meteorologist" category, defining it as, "use historical weather data to reconstruct the weather conditions for a specific location and time. They investigate what role weather played in unusual events such as traffic accidents and fires. Forensic meteorologists may be called as experts to testify in court."
For Nelson, testifying in court isn't always necessary. “I’m willing to go and testify” he says but “sometimes it doesn’t get to that level.”
“Weather effects everything we do. If you are analyzing a case it may be important to know the atmospheric conditions” he says when asked what advice he has for private investigators.It can also be applicable when thinking about a crime and what the weather conditions were that could have a huge impact on the evidence. "There are people out there that can help you with that,” he says when asked what advice he'd give Colorado private investigators.
"Doing forensic work we can try to help people recover something they lost" he says, reiterating that the difference between forecasting and reconstructing the past is that "one is moving forward in time and one is figuring out weather conditions months or years earlier."
This is more nuanced than simply looking up a report detailing what the weather was the day of the accident. Slip and falls, for example, have many hidden complexities. You can say, “well the sun was out how can there be ice. If a drainpipe was melting you could have an icy patch there."
If it was a sunny day then the person who fell may have been less concerned about ice at the time of the injury. If, by contrast, it is a snowy day, they would have been more careful. "But if it’s a sunny day you’re looking around you're not looking down at the ground" Nelson says.
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
Even in a fieldwork heavy career like private investigation, a disproportionate amount of the legal support industry staff days are spent in drably designed office spaces. Denver's co-working spaces are bountiful but the need for confidentiality frequently precludes a firm that isn't in a position to rent a co-working suite. Meanwhile office spaces can remain as austere and impersonal as the file folder piles they contain.
Enter the 2019 holiday season with it's new opportunities for helping your fellow private investigator friends, colleagues or spouses personalize their workspace in a way that is convivial, contemporary and on-brand. The right office gift not only makes a private detective's practice more appealing to coworkers and colleagues who spend an inordinate number of hours working in this space. A well decorated space appeals to prospective clients as the firms transition to 2020.
See also: gift ideas for private investigators
A hard-boiled private eye may not want to admit it but their office space can make or break a client or collegial relationship. While a single poster or coaster referencing a gumshoe's early fictional or historic inspiration may not make or break a client, it is a great conversation piece. Gifting the PI in your life something to capture the imagination of a prospective client or legal partner who is unfamiliar with the field helps their business. It is also a fun way to re energize a slow afternoon by reminding private detectives of the field's rich literary and cinematic history.
These are our office gift suggestions for the 2019 holiday season:
1.) Pinkerton Logo on Wood Panel by Vass Design: obtain this and you wont have to visit the newly renovated International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. to admire a framed version of the Pinkerton logo. Vass Design has created a 12 x 16 inch wood reproduction, perfect for an office wall or lobby waiting area. If rustic is your thing even better, since it brings out the crackle texture of the wood surface giving the sense this firm has been around for a long, long, long, long time. Perhaps it even goes as far back as Chicago, 1850.
See also: a Visit to the International Spy Museum in the Denver Private Investigator Blog and in PursuitMag
Vass design is also an environmentally conscious Canadian based maker who uses water based and eco friendly stains, paint and glue. The framed wall hanging costs $55.04 and is a great asset to any private investigator firm wanting to emphasize the fact that their services and expertise are available round the clock.
If, as a Colorado private investigator you'd prefer not to plug anything Pinkerton because of their infamous involvement with Colorado's Ludlow Massacre ---also, technically speaking, they're a competitor-- we have alternative wall art to enthusiastically recommend, starting with some pics inspired by timeless songs by The Clash and Bob Dylan.
2.) Detective themed London Calling and Thin Man posters by Todd Alcott Graphics: Former New York playwright turned LA screenwriter, Todd Alcott's day job may be writing for much larger audiences but the Etsy shop he now he now runs is solo operated and makes his cinematic mashups available for spaces ranging from 11 inches in height to 36 inches tall.
The etsy shop has been earning international recognition and it's detective themed posters featuring classic album mashups fuse poetry, nihilism, pulp fan fiction and noir with phrases from the most pyrotechnically brilliant lyricists of the 20th century are about as iconically nuanced as it gets for people someone looking for just the right personalized gift for the Clash or Bob Dylan fan.
"I had just been listening to the Clash and came across this detective magazine, and the tension between the apocalypse of "London Calling" and the kind of tawdry sexuality of the detective magazine cover made me laugh," explains the screenwriter turned graphic designer. "The other thing I loved about the image was that it was really mangled and water stained, which I love to work with. I like my finished images to look as "authentic" as possible, and details like the water stains really added to it. Detective magazines like this always have a lot of headlines, usually each one trying to top the last in terms of sensationalism, and I love taking those headlines and making them song lyrics, again, setting the doomy lyrics of the song against the luridness of the magazine cover." Posters start at $25 and go up to $150 so you can adjust for budget and wall space.
Bonus points for giving Ballad of a Thin Man to anyone who also happens to be a fan of the Denver's popular East 17th avenue hangout (2015 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80206) with the same name.
3.)Vintage mystery fiction writer tea - Tea totalers and tea enthusiasts alike can sip the snowy afternoon atmosphere with these private eye themed tea bag gift sets. "I'm a big mystery fan and true crime podcast listener so these collections were particularly fun to design and they include some of my favorite authors," says the set's creator, Robin Stelling.
Chose one --or both-- distinct tea sets. They are organic and elegantly packaged with each set running $34 on the FavorFavour.com website. Writers referenced include Agatha Christie, Wilkie Collins, Ngaio Marsh, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L Sayers so it can also get gifted along side a Tattered Cover gift certificate if you want to include something locally and literary.
4.) New books by local Colorado authors - If your office library wants to include some of Colorado's hottest contemporary mystery, thriller and crime authors you can also gift detective themed sets sets with books by Peter Heller, David Heska Wanbli, Kali Fajardo-Anstine and Erika Wurth. "Sabrina and Corina" by Fajardo-Anstine is a National Book Award Finalist
5.) Handmade Nancy Drew Coasters - What would holiday gift recommendations be without some Nancy Drew. Especially relevant for anyone following the new CW television series. But back to coasters: they are sealed for hot and cold drinks and will be a year-round asset to any office space. Available along with a vintage book selection via the KarlandArrow shop on Etsy and are available for $5.00 each.
6.) Handmade Nancy Drew cash envelope system wallet: if you're paying cash to cover your tracks it may not be the wisest move to do something as conspicuous as paying with cash extracted from a Nancy Drew cash system wallet. If, on the other hand, you're doing the cash envelope system (which Dave Ramsey takes credit for although the system pre dates Ramsey's monetization of it--and making it relevant to budgeting in today's digital world) this is a dope way to motivate yourself to switch to a cash system to save money. And what could be sweeter than doing so with Nancy Drew as your copilot!
"I grew up with her books in my home. My oldest sister had almost all the books. As the third and middle child I read them when she was finished with them," explains Vintage Fabric Finds maker Tammy Andrews-Tucker, who messaged me that she has a limited amount of fabric left so if you're going to order one of these custom finds, do it soon. Prices range from $35.50 to $85.50 depending on the number of envelopes you plan to get.
"I admired Nancy’s curiosity and her intellect. Her ability to process situations and events and look at them from a different angle. That things often were not as they presented themselves. I also admired her ability to maneuver freely in the world without restrictions, to be listened to, respected and I admired her tremendous resourcefulness" Andrews-Tucker, concluded.
A "cash wallet system" for a busy private investigation firm could simply be a good way to organize a kitty multiple team members draw upon. It is unlikely you would want to leave it lying around. That said, it's a righteous accessory to use yourself or give to a colleague for budgeting in the New Year so we're including it in our 2020 holiday gift recommendations, anyway.
(Continued from part 1 of 2)
The staff members based out of Trustify’s opulent Arlington, Virginia Headquarters unfortunately learned the hard way that they would end up working without pay. They must now join the ranks of Trustify’s former landlord, public relations firm and attorneys whose paychecks were backburnered while Boice and Mellon indulged in lavish spending. Boice also owes over 10K in child support backpay. As though the FBI investigating now investigating him for embezzlement wasn't enough.
Of course, Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region are built upon a rich history of boom/bust stories, most of which do not end well. There's the Baby Doe Tabor story and all the prospector's gold sites that eventually worked their way to profitability by building ski resorts and turning caved in mine shafts into high end tourist resorts.
The intrigue of the venture capitalist "uberizing" the private investigator industry with an app was astutely expressed by PursutMag Editor-in-Chief, Hal Humphreys [Disclosure: PursuitMag and the Denver Private Investigator Blog are content partners] who is a fan of disruptors and of startups. “Most of them fail. Most of them fail miserably" he also pointed out but, "every once in a while, one hits and changes everything."
Pursuit published several articles about Trustify and some of the other authors were not as forgiving as it's Editor but it's coverage over time provide a great sense of the former dumpster fire's rise and fall.
Despite it's Western history, the Rocky Mountain region didn't pull many punches when it came to Trustify. Wyoming, Private Investigator, Dean Beers, in fact, posted about the efforts he and the Professional Private Investigator Association of Colorado (PPIAC) made to report the fact Trustify was operating without a license to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.
According to Beers, the National Council of Investigation & Security Services (NCISS) was also involved in researching the history of the company and pointing out the problematic nature of an intermediary operating without licensure as well as the history of Boice's original company, Flim Flam. Their apprehensive commentary on the business goes back as far as the Denver Private Investigator Blog's does.
The DrivenForward blog maintained by Glen Hellman wins for most consistent, persistent and comprehensive coverage of the Trustify fiasco. It contains primary documents as well as a running chart of statuses of lawsuits against Trustify. Hellman was actually pursued by one of Boice's attorneys and posted the notice on his blog.
My final effort to verify the derelict status of the site’ was to call the 888 number. I dialed and got a busy signal. When was the last time I heard one of those?
Will the consumer driven demand for a standard hourly with no retainer fee be met by yet another disruptor rendering the private investigator industry as we know it as obsolete as a busy signal?
Only time will tell. Hopefully savvy investigators as well as savvy tech entrepreneurs will continue learning from the mistakes of their predecessors.
Washington Biz Journal - https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2019/08/22/heres-whats-left-of-trustifys-private-eye-inspired.html
Driven Forward - https://drivenforward.com/former-trustify-employees-awarded-260-thousand-judgement/
Washingtonian - https://www.washingtonian.com/2018/12/09/is-the-blogger-mr-cranky-glen-hellman-out-to-save-dc-tech-industry-or-destroy-it/
PursuitMag - http://pursuitmag.com/a-trustify-postmortem/
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
If you visit Trustify’s LinkedIn listing you’ll see an announcement that reads: "Trustify has 34 job openings - find the one for you." Positions titled “Marketing Content Copywriter” and “Content Producer” include great benefits. The listings, posted a month ago, also boast of a new and presumably improved mission dedicated to, “democratizing access to private investigation and intelligences services.” Does this mean the Arlington, Virginia based multi-million venture capital backed tech startup once poised to disrupt the private investigator industry is rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the dumpster fire of law suits that’s been following its demise?
Click on “apply” and get directed to a “This job is not available anymore” notification that was presumably posted and managed by a LinkedIn admin. Perhaps the position was filled? Scroll down to a heartfelt statement by Trustify founders, Danny Boice and Jennifer Mellon. After basking in the rays of their “God given mission” and reiterating several times that they regard employees as “family,” the couple concludes by praying for the opportunity to demonstrate their transparency to prospective employees.
Boice and Mellon's prayers evidently do not apply to former Trustify employees, Matthew Scott, Elisabeth Nugent, Kevin Wiggins, Stacy Blackburn, Bey Wesley, Matthew Blanchard, Bernadette Vielhaber and Andrew Little who just won a $260,000 judgement against the company for several weeks backpay, lost wages, damages and labor law violations. In addition to the most current coverage, Glen Helman’s Driven Forward blog posts includes a tally of all six of Trustify’s litigants complete with type, status, amount and an outstanding tab of $1,627,206.99.
Click through to Trustify’s derelict website and explore the catacombs of the former landing page. The skeletal remains of a footer note the celebrated and ostracized, “$99/hour” private investigator service with no retainer fee. Boice, his wife (the couple is separated now) and their staff sold PI services to people who wouldn’t ordinarily hire a private detective because the expense was prohibitive. Then private investigators with whom Trustify subcontracted took home $30 of what could be as much as a $99 hourly pay. In the era of the venture capital backed app, why not use the Uber model to make ridesharing more affordable for everyone? (As a freelance writer who lives paycheck to paycheck, I can totally understand the appeal.)
The Occupational Employment Statistics put out by the US Department of Labor put median 2018 hourly rate for private investigators in the United States at $27.50. While the PIs that I know, personally, tend to earn more, this was the average reported by the BLS in 2018.
Many independently employed private detectives can charge higher than the national average of $27 for their services because they have more experience than most of their competitors. Some have journalism degrees and others are former police and military. Some even have law degrees and all this is reflected in the price point.
It would be challenging, though not impossible, for a Colorado PI to sustain him or herself if they charged the median hourly wage in a state where even the small town residents pay big bucks for food and shelter. A recent Lending Tree study reported on CBS that Breckinridge, Colorado and Steamboat Springs, Colorado both made the top ten for most expensive towns in the country list. Boulder is the most expensive city in Colorado and with a median income there of $71,540 and with Denver skyrocketing it is not surprising people living and working in these regions need to be charging more and working more hours.
Several Colorado private investigators who were willing to give Trustify a go during their lean times informed me that because the service hadn’t properly vetted clients and provided no reimbursements for travel or database subscriptions, it wasn’t a viable investment of their time and energy. Consequently they stopped using the service to try and find work.
(Part 2 of 2 coming soon)
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
Private investigators specializing in legal investigations frequently integrate Google Earth and other forms of aerial imagery into their investigations. A related story broke last night that is being lauded being lauded by publications worldwide as a landmark case because it lead to a case being solved accidentally when a West Palm Beach cold case was unearthed by a discovery made while someone looking at his old neighborhood.
According to the Sheriff's office Facebook page September 10th news release, "the remains were positively identified as William Moldt," after his heavily calcified car was dragged out of the lake it was found in. The accidental Google Earth discovery lead to the skeletal remains of someone who disappeared in 1997.
See also: are Amazon drones coming for your surveillance gigs?
At the time of Moldt's 1997 disappearance the gated community was under construction but a little over two decades later, a former resident noticed a vehicle submerged in a lake on his computer screen. Using Google Earth's aerial map of his old neighborhood, he spied the car in the lake and informed a former neighbor and current resident of the community. That neighbor borrowed another neighbor's drone to more closely investigate.
They contacted the property owners and then finally, the police who brought in a tow line which they used to bring the remains to Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office for processing. The body was identified as William Earl Moldt who was reported missing in November 1997.
Stories of citizen sleuths uncovering calcified cars using private investigator technologies isn't limited to Google Earth. Last week a child in Vancouver, British Columbia solved a 27 year old cold case this way.
Storyful's News Intelligence Investigative Journalist Kelly Jones talks Stalk Scan
Google Earth software which was developed by a CIA backed initiative and eventually acquired by Googlemaps, has been used to solve other cases and The Daily Dot provided accounts of these scenarios of cases solved with Google Earth. You can view their list which is toggled to another crime story, here.
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blog
Denver comes in 11th on the list of private investigator salaries nationwide. Does that mean that if you're a private investigator living in Colorado you should migrate to NYC? Not necessarily .
Claiming to see salaries "as high as $99,500 and as low as $22,500, the majority of Entry Level Private Investigator salaries currently range between $34,500 (25th percentile) to $46,000 (75th percentile) across the United States" according to Zip Recruiter's national chart dated September 2, 2019. But where are they getting their data? And how many private investigators are they speaking to? "The average pay range for an Entry Level Private Investigator varies little (about $11,500), which suggests that regardless of location, there are not many opportunities for increased pay or advancement, even with several years of experience" reflects an anonymous analysis on another part of their website. And they may be onto something.
Putting the data together enables you to compare a private investigator living in New York City to Denver and other major cities in the US. Most can expect an average annual salary of $49,268 as of August 26, 2019 and an average annual pay for an Entry Level Private Investigator in the United States averaging $46,587 a year. Does this mean that the highest average private investigator salary in the country is just $2,681 shy of what the highest earning PIs in the country make?
Zip Recruiter's post unfortunately, also falls short in providing the number of jobs surveyed. Previous years' Labor Day posts discussing salary pulls data from the United States Census Bureau and from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provide the most comprehensive results however recruitments sites rolling out salary data based on the jobs posted on the site are also useful. Moreover, reviewing and discussing salary with your colleagues is, according to Adam Conover, the best way to bridge the income inequality gap and this is a clip of Conover's rundown if you'd like to know more:
Back to recruitment site data though: if you're following recruiter sites, they update frequently and tend to provide local as well as national analysis. This makes it worth the effort, despite the fact it's not as comprehensive as government sites or sites using government data.
Glassdoor's comparisons, which were updated July 29, 2019, list the average base pay at $53,854 but lists entry at $45,318 which is in Zip Recruiter's ballpark. But GlassDoor provides additional options that allow viewers to compare bonuses and see how large firms compare to small firms. Spoiler alert: larger firms pay better. GlassDoor also offers recent anonymously shared salary reports which, although also unverified, provide feedback from someone who was actually employed rather than something a job poster submits.
Could Glassdoor be amalgamating too many listings which range from topics as broad as "Environmental Health Investigator" for the City and County of Denver to "Cyber Coder Fraud Investigative Analysis" for Cyber Coders. Absolutely. Is it nevertheless a viable resource to include in your research? Yes it is.
Indeed's rundown of PI salaries is the outlier in so far as they actually include the number of salaries submitted: 338. Indeed also provides the unique observations that the average PIs tenure is 1-3 years and hourly averages $23.11 which is a penny away from the Arlington, Virginia average and more than Denver's $21.81 average.
Happy Labor Day!!
The Colorado Bar Association's addresses Colorado's Rule 8.4 (c) by issuing Formal Opinion 137. Here's what it means:
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
In May 2019, the Ethics Committee of the Colorado Bar Association (CBA) issued Formal Opinion 137 to address negative ethical ramifications that Rule 8.4 (c) might have. From it's 2017 announcement, apprehensions about the Rule permitting Colorado lawyers to "advise, direct, or supervise others," ---private investigators are one of the three categories of support affiliates specified in the rule-- to participate in lawful investigative activities involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
Concern about the Rule's professional --not to mention ethical-- consequences have prompted anxious conversations and blog posts but Opinion 137 marks Colorado Bar and Ethic's Committee's first official response to 8.4 (c) since the Colorado Supreme Court amended the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct in 2017.
See also: Chris Wells on Facebook and the Colorado Bar Associations Sock Puppet Prerogative
The Colorado Bar Association's 6,195 word Formal Opinion (which the CBA explicitly states is for advisory purposes only) is not light, late-summer weekend getaway reading material. Slog through the legalese for a comprehensive discussion and analysis of Rule 8.4 (c) and it will deepen your understanding of it's potential impact on your career as a Colorado private investigator.
Formal Opinion 137 also does a great job of differentiating between the different kinds of investigations and how this rule applies to national as well as state cases so you may not emerge from the read feeling rested and recharged however it will deepen your understanding of how issues similar to 8.4 (c) played out in previous discussions involving Ethics Opinion and Treatises.
Formal Opinion 137 also cites relevant Law Review Articles and citations from Practice Guides before concluding with a five page addendum if you haven't gotten enough by then.
See also: Colorado's new misconduct rule: what could the consequences be?
Since September 2017, if you are a private investigator, process server, bail bond recovery agent, skip tracer or surveillance operative, Colorado attorneys have had the legal authority to direct you to commence "engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation" if they deem it necessary. In addition to the rule's blatant irreverence for ethical codes that licensed private investigators practicing in the State of Colorado --an industry that includes process servers, skip tracers and bail recovery agents as well as private detectives-- licenses depend on, membership compliance and regulations are also poised to revoke violators. This Rule could therefore impact your future resources as a PI or put you in a position in which you are forced to chose between a client and a license of professional organization if it hasn't already.
If you are you a Colorado lawyer or licensed private detective and your work at a private investigator been impacted by Colo. RPC 8.4(c) following it's adoption by the Colorado Supreme Court in September 2017 we would like to hear your story.
Send us your questions and thoughts on CBA Ethics Opinion 137 and on 8.4(c) You can post responses in the comment and on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
"What do you charge for your PI services," is a question most of us, at some point or another, will be asked. The person asking, which can be anyone ranging from friend and acquaintance to Facebook group contact, is probably asking because something in their personal life or in the personal life of a family or loved one needs to be resolved..
Whether or not you are a licensed private investigator --and in my case, I am not licensed and I do not want to be-- they may also need information that does not require a licensed private investigator to obtain and the question, "how much do you charge for your private investigation services?" is actually conscious or unconscious code for, 'will you help?'
"I'm just looking around for someone to do some background digging. I have to figure out how much it's worth to me to get the info. ;-)" the person responded when I informed her the firm I work for has a $500 minimum retainer for a background investigation.
When she specified she was looking for, "more than an apartment rental, less than a security clearance," I pointed out that myriad online services are available to landlords. They can obtain something that doesn't go very in depth for around $50 online. That is a background "check" as opposed to a background investigation, however. And again, a background investigation starts with a $500 retainer fee.
"That is probably more than I can justify paying for this particular project and more background check than I need," she acknowledged.
"Alright," I said reiterating that a background investigation is different than a background check and it something you can't just get from a basic online service for a $50 fee.
"Okay, that all sounds good. I suspect it's going to turn out to be more than I'm willing to spend, but I'd be happy to chat with someone about it, and my budget's not nothing," she said. So I wished her well and referred her to the Denver Public Library which offers access to online phone directory and newspaper listings.
"We often to asked to help find someone (their current phone number, current address, reverse lookup, etc.) or we help someone use something like an inmate locator. But as far as actually researching the background and history of a person, that's a bit different and we aren't really able to do that very well" said one of Denver's Central Library reference librarians when I asked. "Our genealogy department, obviously, helped people locate their family and ancestors, but that's also different."
Hiring a private investigator to do a background investigation is the route you take when you've exhausted options like the public library and $50 background checks.
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blog
The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) hasn't provided additional documentation regarding the case that drove them to issue Grand Junction Private Investigator, Jessica Erin Lane a letter of admonishment. Hopefully additional information will be available soon.
See also: Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies issues Admonishment to Grand Junction private investigator after investigator refuses to provide investigation report
Meanwhile, private investigators from all over the country, responded with examples of when, in their practice, they might deny an investigative report to a client who requested it. Many states including the State of Colorado, require private investigators submit reports in order to keep their licenses. A cursory review of the Colorado license requirements confirms this is a requirements that needs to be specified in the contract. Screenshots obtained from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office are are circles in red.
To start with the basics, Virginia based private investigator, Kimberly Williamson defines report as "a blurb that says 'this is what we did, this is how long it took and here are the next steps.'" She says she the investigation report provides clients with, "some kind of narrative or summary with expense reports." Most cases that are paid for, invoiced and completed follow this formula.
Williamson once worked "with a guy who offered a significant amount of money for a home address of a vehicle that made him mad during traffic. He said he wanted to send a guy adult toys or some nonsense," and that was a situation that needed to be handled differently.
Although "work product is the juicy details, photos, or the generated background/address info," it is Virginia state law not to "hand work product to someone whom we discover or suspect of being under a protective order." The same pertains to a client who is under a retraining order or who may be self-injurious. In such circumstances, Williamson explains, the private investigator may still supply the information to the attorney or to the therapist of the client. If the private investigator needs to terminate the contract, the PI will "send a copy of the signed contract with the violation highlighted and a letter advising them that x, y, and z were performed and what led to termination."
“My client always gets a report, as long as the invoice is paid,” explains Oklahoma City based investigator, Brian Bates when asked about circumstances that would cause a gumshoe to preclude a client from seeing or receiving a final report. "I have very few clients on terms and most provide a retainer. That said, getting a report does not mean the client gets all my work product," he explains.
For Bates, recording everything is key. "I audio record all my interactions for my benefit. I do not turn those over unless it becomes necessary or relevant to do so. I also keep my own personal notes and I do not turn those over - I use my notes however as a basis for the report I give the client."
Thanks to recording technologies evolving from the early dictagraph days (pictured above) it is easier than ever before to inconspicuously record a conversation. Bates insists that the "audio recording feature of my Apple Watch is a life saver," saying "no one questions it the way they question a phone or recording pen."
"I also track myself while on a case (car tracker and smart phone tracker) and shoot timestamped photos randomly. Unless required as part of a surveillance job, I do not turn those over," he explains.
Why then such painstaking efforts to document information that wont even be included in the report? "The main reason I record all interactions is for liability reasons," Bates explains, is that "people lie - a lot. Recordings have saved me from arrest more than once."
See also: the Denver Private Investigator Blog talks process server safety with Tom Mills
While there is no known correlation between the Admonishment that the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies issued to the Grand Junction investigator ---case currently remain unknown as no additional supporting documentation has been made available-- and the examples in this article, the report is still a vital part of the job for Bates who says, "my client gets a report, as long as the invoice is paid."
Recordings protect private eyes anytime their side of the story is contested and Bates is emphatic that "people lie - a lot. "Recordings have saved me from arrest more than once. Had the FBI stop me once as I was leaving a town in Oklahoma. All because the person I interviewed, that was involved in a federal case, realized he shouldn’t have talked to me. He called the FBI agent he had been working with and lied and told him I identified myself as a federal agent. I was detained and only released after I was able to play back audio of our meeting - where I clearly gave the man a card and told him I was a private investigator.”
See also: felony menacing charge
Bates’ example is not dissimilar in what happened to Colorado process server, Tom Mills when he served papers to an off-duty Denver Sheriff’s Deputy in Adams County, Colorado and it was ultimately the video recording he made of of an off-duty Sheriff’s Deputy pointing a gun at him that he used to prove his innocence.
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