A message from our new President
Some PIAU history
A look back on PIAU from a founding member.
The Private Investigators Association of Utah
In 1991 I got a PI license in Utah. At that time you got your PI license in the county where you lived or where you had your office. I got my license in Salt Lake City, Utah. Most of the licenses in the state looked like they came from a crackerjack box. I had a friend that was a PI and was in St. George on a surveillance. Some called the police and a policeman showed up and asked the PI what he was doing. He stated that he was working and that he was a Private Investigator. He showed the policeman his identification, which was from Salt Lake County and the policeman asked him if he was lost. The policeman said he must leave St. George immediately or he would arrest him. He was licensed only to work in Salt Lake County through the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
In 1994, seven private investigators got together and formed PIAU. Legislation was drafted to bring private investigators under the Department of Public Safety, would give us statewide jurisdiction. In 1995, with many hours of testifying and lobbying state representatives and senators and one hour before the closing of the legislative session our bill passed bring our licensing through the Department of Public Safety. Agency Licenses required 2000 hours of investigative work. Registrant Licenses required 1000 Hours of Investigative Work and Apprentices began at the bottom with no hours of investigative work. The apprentice needed “close supervision” from an agency. This legislation also gave us the privilege of obtaining DMV and Drivers License information. Many hours spent by a couple of our members drafted the rules that DPS would use to license us. There was a Private Licensure and Discipline Board. This brought some professionalism to the Private Investigators of Utah. Apprentices and Registrants had to have an Agency Sponsor to obtain a license. This prevented many who wanted to be licensed from getting a license as an apprentice or an agency
Because we had many complaints from people that they were being shut out of the private investigative business as Agencies would not sponsor them we went back to the legislature and amended our Private Investigative legislation to not require a sponsor, however an Apprentice or Registrant still needed to work through an Agency. This legislation opened the door for many aspiring to be a private investigator as they could get their license and then call an agency and ask for work. Many agencies hired apprentices and registrants at that time and they still do.
In 1998 there was a civil stalking bill that came to the legislature and looked sure to pass. This bill could hamper our surveillance activities. PIAU worked with the Senate to exempt private investigators in the performance of their investigations.
In 2000 there was a bill in the senate to make accident reports private. Some private investigators needed accident reports in their investigations. The bill allowed accident reports to be provided to those involved in the accident and their attorneys and of course police officers. State Farm Insurance was the requestor of the bill through Senator Mont Evans. PIAU contacted Senator Evans and requested exemption for private investigators. He said that if we could convince the State Farm Attorney to exempt us that he would exempt us in the legislation. We contacted the State Farm Attorney and he said that he wanted the bill to pass to keep “Ambulance Chasers” out of the picture. He said that attorneys often got accident reports and called those involved in the accident before they could contact their insurance company. He said that if private investigators could get accident reports then the ambulance chasers would hire a private investigator to get the accident report from them. We told him that if it was a protected record, we could get it for our own use and not provide it to any one. We told him the DMV and Drivers license information was protected and that we had access to that to use in our investigations and did not disseminate that information. We told him that we were licensed through the Department of Public Safety and that we could loose our license if we misused protected information. He called Senator Evans and said that Private Investigators could be exempted and get Accident Reports.
In 2002, some of our investigators were serving process and limited to only Subpoenas, Summons and Complaints. We sponsored legislation that would let private investigators serve all civil process that did not require the seizing of property. The constables fought us on this legislation and it looked like we would loose. A lobbyist from the Collection Agencies contacted PIAU and said that they would get our legislation back on track as they wanted more options for service than the constables and sheriffs provided. This legislation passed.
Because some of our own PI’s made unwise decisions we lost the ability to call DMV and request motor vehicle information and get Drivers License photos.
PIAU negotiated with DMV and again got that privilege restored although it was more restrictive.
Throughout the years 1995 PIAU has monitored legislation and made the profession of private investigators better. It is the first private investigator professional organization in Utah and had done much good. If you’re a private investigator you should join and contribute and help make our profession the best that it can be. We have earned the respect of the powers at DMV and Drivers License, The Utah Law Enforcement Legislative Committee and many of the legislatures at the State Capital.
Mel Ashton, a founding member of PIAU
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Last Updated (Friday, 22 April 2011 22:26)
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