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The Vermont Statutes Online

 

Title 26: Professions and Occupations

Chapter 059: PRIVATE INVESTIGATIVE AND SECURITY SERVICES

  • Subchapter 001: General Provisions
  • § 3151. Definitions

    As used in this chapter:

    (1)(A) "Director" means the Director of the Office.

    (B) "Office" means the Office of Professional Regulation.

    (2) "Person" means an individual, partnership, corporation, or other business entity.

    (3) "Private investigator" means any person who, for consideration engages in or solicits business, accepts employment, or holds himself or herself out to the public as someone who will investigate, obtain information, or provide security of persons incident to, but not limited to, the following:

    (A) Any suspected crime, tort, or wrong committed or threatened against the laws of a government or any of its political subdivisions or against any person.

    (B) The identity, habits, conduct, honesty, loyalty, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, reputation, or character of any living person.

    (C) Damage, accidents, or injury to persons or property.

    (D) The location, disposition, or recovery of lost or stolen property.

    (E) Evidence related to a proceeding before any court, agency, officer, or investigative committee.

    (F) The identity, location, or apprehension of persons.

    (4) "Security" means a person engaged for compensation in the business of protecting property or persons by providing armed or unarmed security service, or armed transport service, or the use of guard dogs. "Security services" includes:

    (A) Prevention or detection of intrusion, entry, larceny, vandalism, abuse, fire, or trespass on private property.

    (B) Prevention, observation, or detection of any unauthorized activity on private property.

    (C) Protection of patrons and persons lawfully authorized to be on the premises of the person, firm, association, or corporation that entered into the contract for security services.

    (D) Control, regulation, or direction of the flow or movement of the public, whether by vehicle or otherwise, onto the premises.

    (E) Physically responding to any alarm signal device, burglar alarm, television camera, still camera, or a mechanical or electronic device installed or used to prevent or detect burglary, theft, shoplifting, pilferage, losses, or other security measures.

    (F) Providing armored transport services.

    (5) [Repealed.]

    (6) [Repealed.]  (Added 1981, No. 98, § 1; amended 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 23, eff. May 12, 2010; 2017, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 24; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3151a. Exemptions

    (a) The term "private investigator" shall not include:

    (1) Law enforcement officers certified under 20 V.S.A. § 2358 while engaged in the performance of their official duties.

    (2) Insurance adjusters, insurance appraisers, and persons regularly employed as investigators exclusively by one insurance company.

    (3) Persons regularly employed as investigators exclusively by one employer in connection with the affairs of that employer only, provided that the employer is not a private investigative agency and the employee is engaged directly as part of the ordinary payroll for tax, accounting, and insurance purposes.

    (4) Persons engaged exclusively in the business of furnishing of information as to the business and financial standing and credit responsibility of persons, provided such information is not obtained through the preparation of investigative consumer reports as defined by the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

    (5) Attorneys engaged in the practice of law and law clerks, paralegals, and other laypersons regularly employed exclusively by one attorney or law firm when the attorney or law firm retains complete professional responsibility for the work product of the law clerk, paralegal, or other laypersons in his, her, or its employ.

    (6) Employees of the federal government, the State, or of any municipality in the performance of official duties.

    (7) News gathering persons.

    (8) A person engaged in compiling genealogical information from public records.

    (9) Persons providing marketing or demographic information.

    (10) Authors researching material for publication.

    (b) The term "security guard" shall not include:

    (1) Law enforcement officers certified under 20 V.S.A. § 2358 while engaged in the performance of their official duties, including the rendering of security guard services, provided such services have been assigned and approved in advance by the officer's employing department and payment for such services is made to the employing department.

    (2) Persons who are not armed, who are engaged exclusively in the business of managing property of others, including incidental inspection for the purpose of discovering damage from entry, theft, vandalism, or other cause.

    (3) Persons regularly employed as security guards exclusively by one employer in connection with the affairs of that employer only, provided that the employer is not a security agency and the employee is engaged directly as part of the ordinary payroll for tax, accounting, and insurance purposes. (Added 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 24, eff. May 12, 2010; 2017, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 24.)


  • Subchapter 002: Administration
  • § 3161. Regulation of private investigative and security services; Director; advisor appointees

    (a)(1) The Director shall administer the provisions of this chapter.

    (2) The Director shall consult the advisor appointees prior to exercising interpretive discretion, adopting or amending rules, and determining any substantial regulatory question presented in the course of administering this chapter.

    (b)(1) The Secretary of State shall appoint five persons of suitable qualifications in accordance with this section to advise the Director in matters concerning private investigative and security services.

    (A) Two advisors shall be members of the public with no financial interest, either personally or through a spouse, in private investigative services or security services.

    (B) One advisor shall be a provider of private investigative services.

    (C) One advisor shall be a provider of private security services.

    (D) The remaining member shall be a provider of private investigative services or a provider of private security services, or a provider of both types of services.

    (2) The Secretary of State shall appoint the advisors for five-year staggered terms. Four of the initial appointments shall be for four-, three-, two-, and one-year terms. (Added 1981, No. 98, § 1; amended 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2005, No. 27, § 89; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 25; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3162. Director; powers and duties

    The Director shall adopt rules necessary for the effective administration of this chapter, including rules prescribing minimum standards and qualifications for:

    (1) security guards who may:

    (A) practice independently or head agencies; or

    (B) practice within the hierarchy of an agency;

    (2) private investigators who may:

    (A) practice independently or head agencies; or

    (B) practice within the hierarchy of an agency;

    (3) agencies; and

    (4) recognized trainers and training programs. (Added 1981, No. 98, § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 28, eff. June 27, 2002; 2005, No. 27, § 89a; 2013, No. 138 (Adj. Sess.), § 24; 2017, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 24; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3163. Repealed. 2017, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 24.

  • §§ 3164, 3165. Repealed. 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 18.


  • Subchapter 003: Licensing
  • § 3171. Licensing

    (a) Licensing standards and procedures shall be fair and reasonable and shall be designed and implemented to measure and reasonably ensure an applicant's qualifications to practice the occupation. They shall not be designed or implemented for the purpose of limiting the number of persons engaged in the occupation.

    (b) If a licensee has a principal place of business for a licensed occupation, a license shall be prominently displayed at that place.

    (c) Individual registrations may be transferred upon approval by the Director. (Added 1981, No. 98, § 1; amended 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 26; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3172. Licenses

    The Director shall issue agency licenses for private investigative services, private security guard services, or combination guard agency licenses to applicants that submit all of the following:

    (1) an application filed in proper form;

    (2) the application fee;

    (3) evidence of current Vermont business entity registration. (Added 1981, No. 98, § 1; amended 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 27; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3173. Private investigator licenses

    (a) The Director shall issue a license to a private investigator after obtaining and approving all of the following:

    (1) evidence that the applicant has attained the age of majority;

    (2) evidence that the applicant has successfully passed any examination required by rule; and

    (3) the application fee.

    (b) The Director may make inquiries he or she deems necessary into the character, integrity, and reputation of the applicant.

    (c) The Director shall require that a person seeking licensure to practice independently as a private investigator has had appropriate experience in investigative work, for a period of not less than two years, as determined by the Director. Such experience may include having been regularly employed as a private investigator licensed in another state or as an investigator for a private investigative agency licensed in this or another state or having been a sworn member of a federal, state, or municipal law enforcement agency.

    (d) An application for a license may be denied upon failure of the applicant to provide information required; upon a finding that the applicant does not meet a high standard as to character, integrity, and reputation; or for unprofessional conduct defined in section 3181 of this chapter. (Added 1981, No. 98, § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 67; 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 1999, No. 133 (Adj. Sess.), § 26; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 28; 2013, No. 119 (Adj. Sess.), § 16; 2017, No. 48, § 21; 2017, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 24; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3173a. Repealed. 1999, No. 52, § 46.

  • § 3174. Security guard licenses

    (a) The Director shall issue a license to a security guard after obtaining and approving all of the following:

    (1) evidence that the applicant has attained the age of majority;

    (2) evidence that the applicant has successfully passed any examination required by rule; and

    (3) the application fee.

    (b) The Director may make inquiries he or she deems necessary into the character, integrity, and reputation of the applicant.

    (c) The Director shall require that a person seeking licensure to practice independently as a security guard has had experience satisfactory to the Director in security work for a period of not less than two years. Such experience may include having been licensed as a security guard in another state or regularly employed as a security guard for a security agency licensed in this or another state or having been a sworn member of a federal, state, or municipal law enforcement agency.

    (d) An application for a license may be denied upon failure of the applicant to provide information required; upon a finding that the applicant does not meet a high standard as to character, integrity, and reputation; or for unprofessional conduct defined in section 3181 of this chapter. (Added 1981, No. 98, § 1; amended 1985, No. 86 § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 68, 69; 1991, No. 69, § 1, eff. June 21, 1991; 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; 1999, No. 133 (Adj. Sess.), § 27; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 29; 2017, No. 48, § 21; 2017, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 24; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3174a. Repealed. 1999, No. 52, § 46.

  • § 3175. Examinations

    The Director shall prepare, or have prepared, and administer separate examinations for private investigators and private security services. Each examination shall be designed to test the competency of the applicant with respect to the lawful and safe provision of each respective service to the public. (Added 1981, No. 98, § 1; amended 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 30; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3175a. Firearms instructor licensure; program of instruction

    (a) The Director shall license firearms training course instructors of private investigators and security guards licensed under this chapter and shall adopt rules governing the licensure of instructors and the approval of firearms and guard dog training programs.

    (b) The Director shall not issue a license as a firearms training program instructor without first obtaining and approving all of the following:

    (1) evidence that the applicant has attained the age of majority;

    (2) a copy of the applicant's training program;

    (3) proof of certification as an instructor from an instructor's course approved by the Director;

    (4) a federal background check; and

    (5) the application fee.

    (c) [Repealed.]  (Added 1999, No. 133 (Adj. Sess.), § 28; amended 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 29, eff. June 27, 2002; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 31; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3175b. Guard dog training instructor license

    (a) An applicant for a license to provide guard dog services shall demonstrate to the Director competence in the handling of guard dogs in a guard dog training program approved by the Director and taught by an instructor currently licensed under this section.

    (b) The Director shall not issue a license as a guard dog training program instructor without first obtaining and approving all of the following:

    (1) evidence that the applicant has attained the age of majority;

    (2) a copy of the applicant's training program;

    (3) proof of certification as an instructor from an instructor's course approved by the Director;

    (4) a federal background check; and

    (5) the application fee. (Added 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 32; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3175c. Firearms training and certification

    (a) A licensee seeking a firearms certification shall:

    (1) demonstrate to the Director competence in the safe use of firearms by successfully completing a firearms training program approved by the Director;

    (2) pay the required fee;

    (3) provide the Director with evidence that the applicant has attained the age of majority; and

    (4) receive a satisfactory federal background check.

    (b) A licensee shall not possess a firearm while performing professional services unless certified and in good standing under this section. (Added 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 32; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3176. Employees of agencies

    (a) An agency licensed under this chapter may employ private investigators or security guards.

    (b) An agency shall register all agency investigative and security employees with the Office. Employees shall carry identification indicating the licensee by whom the person is employed.

    (c) An employee of a licensee shall not function as an armed private investigator, armed guard, armed courier, or handler of guard dogs unless the employee holds an active specialty designation authorizing the use of firearms or guard dogs, as applicable.

    (d) The Director may make inquiries it deems necessary into the character, integrity, and reputation of the employee.

    (e) As a prerequisite to registration, all investigative and security employees shall take and successfully complete a training program approved by the Director.

    (f) A licensed agency or other entity conducting a training program approved by the Director pursuant to this section shall maintain training records for not less than five years. The retained records shall include, at a minimum, records of the courses taught, subjects covered, and persons who have received instruction. Training records shall be made available to the Office upon request. A licensed agency shall maintain its training records at its regular place of business within the State of Vermont. (Added 1981, No. 98, § 1; amended 1989, No 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 70; 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 30, eff. June 27, 2002; 2005, No. 148 (Adj. Sess.), § 33; 2007, No. 163 (Adj. Sess.), § 32; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 33; 2013, No. 119 (Adj. Sess.), § 17; 2017, No. 48, § 21; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3176a. Transitory practice

    The Director, under rules adopted by the Director, may grant a transitory permit to practice as a private investigator to a person who is not a resident of Vermont and has no established place of business in this State, if that person is legally qualified by license to practice as a private investigator in any state or country that regulates such practice. Practice under a transitory permit shall not exceed 30 days in any calendar year. (Added 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; amended 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 34; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • §§ 3176b, 3176c. Repealed. 2017, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 24.

  • § 3177. Repealed. 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 92.

  • § 3178. Repealed. 2017, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 24.

  • § 3178a. Repealed. 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. October 1, 2020.

  • § 3178b. Repealed. 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 53.

  • § 3179. Penalties

    (a) A person who engages in the practice or business of a private investigator or security guard without being licensed under this chapter shall be subject to the penalties provided in 3 V.S.A § 127.

    (b) Any person who is or has been an employee of a licensee and any licensee who divulges to anyone other than to his or her employer or as his or her employer shall direct, except before an authorized tribunal, any information acquired by him or her during such employment in respect to any of the work to which he or she has been assigned by such employer, and any such employee who willfully makes a false report to his or her employer in respect to any such work, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $500.00. (Added 1981, No. 98, § 1; amended 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 15; 2007, No. 29, § 40; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 38; 2017, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 24.)

  • § 3180. Repealed. 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 92.


  • Subchapter 004: Unprofessional Conduct and Discipline
  • § 3181. Unprofessional conduct

    (a) It shall be unprofessional conduct for a licensee, registrant, or applicant to engage in conduct prohibited by this section, or by 3 V.S.A. § 129a.

    (b) Unprofessional conduct means any of the following:

    (1) conviction of any felony or a crime involving fraud or dishonesty;

    (2) failing to make available, upon request of a person using the licensee's services, copies of documents in the possession or under the control of the licensee, when those documents have been prepared for and purchased by the user of services;

    (3) violating a confidential relationship with a client, or disclosing any confidential client information except:

    (A) with the client's permission;

    (B) in response to a court order;

    (C) when necessary to establish or collect a fee from the client; or

    (D) when the information is necessary to prevent a crime that the client intends to commit;

    (4) accepting any assignment that would be a conflict of interest because of confidential information obtained during employment for another client;

    (5) accepting an assignment that would require the violation of any municipal, state, or federal law or client confidence;

    (6) using any badge, seal, card, or other device to misrepresent oneself as a police officer, sheriff, or other law enforcement officer;

    (7) knowingly submitting a false or misleading report or failing to disclose a material fact to a client;

    (8) falsifying or failing to provide required compulsory minimum training in firearms or guard dog handling as required by this chapter;

    (9) failing to complete in a timely manner the registration of an employee;

    (10) allowing an employee to carry firearms or handle guard dogs prior to being issued a permanent registration card;

    (11) allowing an employee to work without carrying the required evidence of temporary or permanent registration;

    (12) allowing an employee to use or be accompanied by an untrained guard dog while rendering professional services;

    (13) failing to provide information requested by the Director;

    (14) failing to return the temporary or permanent registration of an employee;

    (15) failing to notify the Director of a change in ownership, partners, officers, or qualifying agent;

    (16) providing incomplete, false, or misleading information on an application;

    (17) any of the following except when reasonably undertaken in an emergency situation in order to protect life, health, or property:

    (A) practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope permitted by law;

    (B) accepting and performing occupational responsibilities that the licensee knows or has reason to know that he or she is not competent to perform; or

    (C) performing occupational services that have not been authorized by the consumer or his or her legal representative;

    (18) for armed and guard dog certified licensees, brandishing, exhibiting, displaying, or otherwise misusing a firearm or guard dog in a careless, angry, or threatening manner unnecessary for the course of the licensee's duties.

    (c) [Repealed.]  (Added 1981, No. 98, § 1; amended 1995, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 16; 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 51; 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 31, eff. June 27, 2002; 2009, No. 103 (Adj. Sess.), § 39; 2017, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), § 24; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 17, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)

  • § 3182. Repealed. 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 92.

  • § 3183. Repealed. 2013, No. 27, § 36.