Attorney General: Honorable John A. Connelly, Department of Public Safety, 1998-005 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

May 19, 1998

Honorable John A. Connelly
Department of Public Safety
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, CT 06457-9294

Dear Commissioner Connelly:

Your department requested our advice on whether individuals or firms providing personal services to the Department of Public Safety, to examine fire damaged electrical systems in order to determine whether such systems caused the fire, must be licensed as private detectives in accordance with Section 29-153 of the Connecticut General Statutes. It is our opinion that to the extent such individuals or firms are not performing detective or investigating services they need not be licensed in accordance with Section 29-153 of the Connecticut General Statutes.

Your staff has advised us that the individuals or firms are hired as consultants or experts in the field of electrical systems. Their duties include analyzing and examining evidence to determine whether the electrical system caused the fire. They do not hold themselves out as private detectives or investigators.

Conn. Gen. Stat.  29-153 provides as follows:

No person shall engage in the business of, or solicit business as a private detective or investigator or as a watchman, guard or patrol service or represent himself to be, hold himself out as or advertise as a private detective or investigator or as furnishing detective or investigating services or as a watchman, guard or patrol service without first obtaining a license from the Commissioner of Public Safety.

The commissioner may grant a private detective or investigator's license to any suitable person, or to any corporation, association or partnership meeting the qualifications set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat.  29-154a (1). Subsection (1) of Conn. Gen. Stat.  29-154a provides in relevant part as follows:

Private detective or investigator: The applicant for a private detective or investigator's license shall . . . have had at least five years' experience as a full-time investigator either in the employment of a licensed private detective or investigator or with a United States government investigative service, a state or organized municipal fire or police department . . . If the commissioner grants a private detective or investigator's license to an applicant based on such applicant's experience as an investigator with an organized municipal fire department, such license shall restrict such licensee to performing the same type of investigations as he performed for the municipal fire department.

When the words of a statute are clear and unambiguous, there is no need to look further than the words used because the words are assumed to express the legislative intent. Office of Consumer Counsel v. Dept. of Public Utility Control, 234 Conn. 624, 646, 662 A.2d 1251 (1995). Conn. Gen. Stat.  29-153 is clear and unambiguous. It provides that no person shall "engage in the business of, or solicit business as . . . represent himself to be, hold himself out as or advertises as . . ." an investigator unless that person is licensed as an investigator. Your staff has stated to us that the Department of Public Safety does not engage these individuals or firms for the purpose of investigating the cause of a fire. They are engaged as consultants or experts to analyze and examine evidence. Moreover, they do not solicit business as, represent themselves to be, hold themselves out as, or advertise as investigators. Thus, such individuals or firms cannot be construed to be investigators for purposes of the licensing requirements of Conn. Gen. Stat.  29-153.

For the foregoing reasons, it is our opinion that an individual or firm engaged by the Department of Public Safety as a consultant or expert in the field of electrical systems to analyze and examine evidence to determine whether the electrical system caused the fire, need not be licensed under Conn. Gen. Stat.  29-153.

Very truly yours,

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
ATTORNEY GENERAL

Henri Alexandre
Assistant Attorney General

RB/HA


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