This is what I posted to another Idaho Private Investigators blog about licensing Idaho Private Investigators
In the United States Idaho is one of approximatley 4 states in the United States that dosen't require Private Investigators to be licensed
Colorado just recently went to mandatory licensing of Private Investigators, and it was a fight for them to do it. Many in this Idaho industry don't want to see licensing as it is a way to regulate the service they provide.
Let's start with the cost factor of licensing of Private Investigators and the fee for regulating the licensing of them. Colorado just required it's Private Investigators to be licensed by the State. The fee for that license is $330.00. Oregon who is just next door to us requires Private Investigators to pay a onetime fee of $70.75 and $550.00 yearly.
The fee is charged and paid to an agency who is regulating the industry. In the case of Idaho it would be the Idaho State Bureau of Occupational Licensing. This is the same Bureau that is charged with overseeing Contractors, Counselors, Beauticians, Barbers, Real Estate Agents and more.
As far as passing that fee on to the consumer I haven't seen that happen with the Investigators I know in Colorado. It is just the cost of doing business. In fact if you check, you will find that the average fee charged by a private investigative agency is the same though out the United States.
P.I. magazine (www.PI magazine.com) just this summer conducted a survey and asked what Private Investigators throughout the United States charged for their services. On an average, the fee for services was between $50.00 and $85.00 an hour.
As far as what it takes to start up a P.I business I guess that depends on the individual. Advertising is a great expense in this business, along with marketing the business. One of the problems I have found, that without licensing many of the Private Investigators in Idaho are not listed as a business with the Idaho Secretary of State, they don't have a Tax Identification Number and they don't carry insurance.
A lot of the individuals that are calling themselves "Private Investigators" don't use professional search sites. These sites contain very personal and confidential information. Many of the sites have very strict requirements as to who they allow to have access to them. Many of us had to provided personal information and pass a background in order to use them.
When it comes to the variety of individuals in the business you are correct. Unfortunately by not having anyone to regulate who can advertise and work in the State of Idaho as a Private Investigator we have felons, stalkers, individuals with sexual harassment charges and others with a questionable background taking money from innocent individuals. I believe that certain individuals should be excluded from the Private Investigator industry. A professional Private Investigator should have knowledge of a person's Constitutional and Civil Rights, they should have an understanding of laws and when it is illegal to record conversations. They should know case laws regarding abandoned property, when is it trespassing and, legally videoing someone. The difference between a criminal matter and a civil case. A good professional Private Investigator should also know what is public record and how to obtain those records.
The State of Colorado requires someone wanting to obtain a Private Investigator License to prove they have thousands of hours of experience. Someone with less knowledge works under an experienced investigator until he/she has obtained the required hours to obtain their license.
Just last year I was talking to an individual that has been working as an Idaho Private Investigator in Idaho for years. This investigator proceeded to tell me about a death case he/she was working that had been reported by law enforcement as a suicide. The family didn't believe this was a suicide and had paid thousands of dollars for this investigator to investigate this case. This investigator had never worked a death case and has no background or experience with investigations or crime scenes.
When it comes to Attorneys not wanting ex-law enforcement to work their cases, especially when it comes to interviews and witness, I have to respond that not all ex-law enforcement officers are the same. This is why requiring the proof of education, background, and experience is needed. Because someone has a Law Enforcement background and is now working as a Private Investigator does not mean that they know how to conduct an investigation, or how to successfully conduct an interview. Interviewing is a learned talent, not everybody knows how to do it. And unfortunately there are many ex-Law Enforcement people in this industry that don't know how to do it.
Regrettably, Idaho opens this industry up to anyone that wants to be a Private Investigator. There are no regulations or recourse for the consumer that feels they have been treated unjustly. There is no way to verify if the investigator has had past complaints filed against them. There is no way to verify what the investigator has proclaimed when it comes to his background, experience, or certifications.
A good Private Investigator will and should continue his education from year to year. You will find that many Private Investigators in Idaho haven't attended any type of refresher course in years. Or for that fact had any official training when it comes to investigations, interviewing or surveillance.
One of the points that you missed is that often times a Private Investigator may have to testify in court. What good does it do for a private investigator to gather all the facts and evidence of a case if he/she doesn't know how to present it professionally to a judge or jury?
So what it all comes to is "yes" I am in favor of licensing the Private Investigative Industry in Idaho. However I do know that the many of the Private Investigators in Idaho don't want any type of regulation or be held accountable to an official agency.