The Rocky Mountain chapter of the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado (PPIAC) held its annual conference at the Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs last month. PIs from Ross Investigators were there to take advantage of numerous educational and networking opportunities throughout the two-day conference.
The conference launched with an ethics presentation from the state Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel and a Colorado legislative update from Jennifer Cassell of public affairs firm Bowditch & Cassell. Cassell covered recent state legislation including the Colorado Privacy Act. The act adds child representatives, code enforcement officers, health-care workers and animal control officers to the list of protected persons whose personal information may be withheld from the internet if the protected person believes the dissemination of such information poses a threat to the protected person or their immediate family. This is in addition to privacy protections provided to election official and educators passed under separate bills during the 2022 legislative session.
Cassell said big challenges remain with reinstating the private investigator licensure requirement if Governor Polis is re-elected. Polis’ 2020 veto of HB 20-1207, which would have extended licensing regulations for private investigators for a five-year period, eliminated the requirement. At the time, he referenced findings that disciplinary actions were virtually non-existent against licensed individuals. He questioned the value of the “additional paperwork, fees and red tape” required for licensing and noted it creates a barrier to entry for newcomers to the profession.
Cassell noted one tool private investigators might use to make the case for reinstating licensure is to document stories and share positive work. She also suggested engaging with legislators and other elected officials as well as other related stakeholder groups such as attorney associations and victims’ rights advocates.
Other topics covered at the conference included surveillance photography, which provided in-depth technical tips, as well as hacks for mobile devices and the benefits of using remote shutters and getting the camera out of your hand.
Max Scott presented on forensic event reconstruction, a topic Sarah Gerhard, one of Ross Investigators most recent team additions, felt was particularly informative. She noted the “black box” found in newer model cars, known as event data recorders (EDR) may become valuable in traffic investigations as their use becomes more prevalent. This data should be downloaded by law enforcement, however, and its unknown how often the information is actually used in traffic accident investigations in Colorado. The NHTSA has been using EDRs “to support its crash investigation program for several years,” according to its website. Gerhard also noted that Scott’s presentation offered a broad perspective on the value of new digital tools such as information available from auto manufacturers’ websites and third-party programs where you can input data to help reconstruct a crash.
The conference also included a criminal defense case study presented by Rachel Roberts, the senior director at large for the PPIAC and the Region VI director for the National Association of Legal Investigators.
Additional topics covered during the conference included:
- Attorney-Investigator Best Practices
- Skip Tracing
- Backgrounds & GLBA
- Domestic Violence in Family & Criminal Law
- Probate / Contested Wills / Heir Searches