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Posted 11/4/13
Private Investigator Society Will Hold Debate on PI Licensing

By Rachel Sapin

Denver Private Investigator Blogger

DENVER – One of Colorado’s most prominent private investigators has challenged leaders of the state’s largest private investigators association to a public debate over private investigator licensing.

Rick Johnson, a former Denver District Attorney’s Office investigator and a former president of the Private Professional Investigators Association of Colorado (PPIAC),  now heads up a new rival association of private investigators that he formed, and he’s stepping up his campaign to thwart the PPIAC’s efforts to end Colorado’s status as one of the few states in the country that do not require private investigators to obtain licenses.

Johnson has invited the PPIAC board, its members and any other private investigator who favors licensing to debate the issue November 19th at 7:00 PM at the Denver Athletic Club.

PPIAC leaders have informed their members of the invitation, but Chairman Chris Bray didn’t respond to a request for comment from the Private Investigator Blog and Johnson says Bray told him he has other plans that day. “It appears that PPIAC has no interest in debating this issue,” Johnson said in an email to members of his rival organization. “We will plan the debate as if they were going to attend.”

Currently the state has a voluntary licensing program, but fewer than 50 investigators have obtained licenses for the current year, well below the 250 projected by proponents. The program is funded entirely by licensing fees, and because of the low enrollment it faces a deficit that forces another significant fee increase – the current fee is more than $600 – or a change to require investigators to obtain licenses.  PPIAC leaders are believed to be prepared to push legislation to make licensing mandatory. Legislation was approved in the state Senate earlier this year, but did not make it out of a House committee.

Johnson has long been a staunch opponent of licensing. “Licensing is nothing more than a ruse to the Colorado consumer,” he writes in one of his email missives. “They will think we all have the same skill level, experience and background. Nothing is further from the truth.” 

He argues that the requirements to obtain a private investigator license in the current voluntary program in which investigators may apply for a license but aren’t required to  -   including 4,000 hours of experience or work as an apprentice for a licensed investigator - would limit competition if they applied to all investigators and all investigators had to obtain a license. “The majority of Colorado PI’s would not be able to meet the hours requirement set forth in the current voluntary licensing law, if in effect, when they wanted to get in the business,” he says.

Johnson also points out the lack of interest among local investigators in Colorado’s current voluntary PI licensing program. Out of the 90 private investigators who had obtained a license last year, only 43 renewed this year. Another six private investigators obtained their first license this year.

The program faces a $48,000 deficit as it heads into 2014, and fees will have to double again for the voluntary program to continue.

“Because of the cost, they want the rest of us to get licensed to lower their fee and limit the pool and choice of PI’s to the public,” said Johnson of the PPIAC’s push towards making the license mandatory.

PPIAC President Steve Davis wrote in an email to the Denver Private Investigator Blog that he does not plan to attend the event and has no comment on it personally.  “We did announce this meeting on our list-serve, and each PPIAC member is entitled to attend if they chose to,” he said.