THE HISTORY OF CALI
By Eddy McClain CPI CSP DAA
After preliminary meetings between CAPI and PIAC from 1965 to 1967, the two associations were merged into one on January 20, 1968. Following the inaugural meeting of 100 members in Hawthorne, California, the new association was incorporated as the California Association of Licensed Investigators on September 15, 1968.
CAPI, the California Association of Private investigators, had been formed in 1947 in response to the implementation of the licensing of investigators by the State. The membership of CAPI was more heavily in Southern California, but included agencies from all over the state and was divided into two districts, North and South.
PIAC, the Private Investigators Association of California was formed in Oakland in 1958. Many of the PIAC founders felt the need for a different association than CAPI in a move reminiscent of the split that occurred in the World Secret Service Association, WSSA , when the Council of International Investigators, CII, was created in 1955, in Chicago, Illinois. WSSA changed its name to the World Association of Detectives in 1966 in San Antonio, Texas. But that's another story.
From the outset, there continued to be friction between leaders in each end of the state. After electing a "neutral” to preside the first few months, Presidents were elected alternately from the North or the South and it seemed every move the Board made had to be weighed in terms of giving equal time to both constituencies. As the years have gone by, those territorial feelings have thankfully dissipated to the point of being inconsequential.
Just as political concerns had led to the formation of CAPI in 1947, CALI was immediately faced with the critical need for representation in Sacramento. Since the dues set in 1968 were only $30 per year and the combined treasuries of CAPI and PIAC were less than $1,000, the legislative ambition of hiring our own lobbyist had to be put on hold.
The California Legislature, however, had no intent of putting off ill-advised legislation, putting a strain on the amateur volunteers who made the trek to the Capitol to plead. Meanwhile, the CALI leaders scrambled to increase membership and add to the coffers.
On January 24, 1970, CALI took the plunge and hired renowned lobbyist Paul Brown. They had to stretch to come up with the retainer. At the time, Mr. Brown was ranked 9th in terms of influence by the leading legal newspaper and his biggest client was the California Medical Association. People have speculated it may have just been curiosity about investigators as to why Mr. Brown accepted such a small client as CALI.
Since that time, in spite of many distractions and issues, CALI's primary focus has been on defending the profession from ill-conceived legislation and even sponsoring bills to improve the ability of CALI members to serve their clients.
In its first decade, CALI depended on an economical liability insurance program to build its membership. Then, as one past president describes it, "we got over the hump.” Membership in CALI became recognized as the true sign of professionalism where newly minted PI's went to learn the ropes from their peers and the educational programs which the association offered.
Although CALI was fighting DMV record closure nearly every year, it was not until 1977 that privacy issues came to the fore. The CALI Board commissioned the creation of a position paper to counteract the contentions of Members of Congress in Washington who had authored bills which would have impeded investigations nationally.
Paul Brown recommended former California Senate Minority leader Craig Biddle, then an attorney and lobbyist in Sacramento, to create the white paper. When the document was shown to the Board of the National Council of Investigation and Security Services, NCISS, the newly formed Council adopted it as their national policy.
Having thus been introduced to CALI, Craig Biddle was the natural choice to succeed Paul Brown who sadly passed away from a brain tumor. While Brown was a lobbyist from the "old school” of influencing politicians, Biddle was known as being from the "Mr. Clean” side of things. They were both tremendously effective.
As the laws governing lobbying evolved, CALI was suddenly faced with the need to change its sponsorship of legislation. In 1981, six CALI leaders met and decided to form a required political action committee. They each anted up $1,000, no small sum in those days, to prime the PAC pump; then, scrambled each year to scrape up enough donations to keep it going. Many a CALI Conference cocktail party had the door blocked until the members entering provided a check for ISPAC. Later changed to CALIPAC, the PAC has greatly improved its funding thanks to generous CALI members.
CALI remained quite successful in fending off record closures until July 18, 1989 when a deranged fan, after several thwarted attempts, shot and killed actress Rebecca Schaeffer. The assailant had hired an Arizona detective agency to determine her address through California DMV records.
This tragedy mirrored what had happened to another actress previously and the reaction was immediate. A large group of entertainment figures traveled to Sacramento, admonished the Legislature, signed autographs and within days, addresses through DMV were no longer available. CALI was powerless to prevent this closure.
Decades later, this abhorrent event is used by those advocating record closures. One of CALI's primary functions today is to prove to legislators that investigators are much more circumspect in knowing their client and protecting the public.
In 1996, when Craig Biddle retired, CALI conducted an extensive replacement search and engaged Jerry Desmond, Jr. as its new Legislative Advocate. The need for representation has never been greater and Jerry Desmond has established himself as the voice for our profession in Sacramento.
With the largest delegation of Representatives in Congress, California is a bellwether state from which many legislative trends originate. CALI has been steadfast in its support of NCISS, the National Council of Investigation and Security Services, whose volunteers are doing the same work representing the professions as CALI, only in Washington, D.C. Many NCISS leaders have come from CALI's ranks.
In spite of many obstacles, CALI continues to expand for the good of the profession and is by far the largest trade association of its kind in the world.
Today, CALI has grown from 2 Districts to 13, providing greater representation for its members. With over four decades of solid accomplishments, CALI is recognized as a National Leader on behalf of the profession.
Membership in CALI has manifold benefits including a membership directory listing each member's information and specialties. Outstanding members are recognized for their contributions to the profession through the Investigator of the Year and Security Professional of the Year Awards and CALI's highest honor, the Distinguished Achievement Award.
Most importantly, using the monthly meetings of this network plus annual conferences and mid-year meetings, members are kept up to speed on changes in the law and the latest techniques. As one founding member recently said, "I have never been to a District Meeting or CALI Conference where I did not either learn something or meet someone for a resource. The friendships I have developed with my peers and even competitors, have served my business well throughout my career.”
**Eddy McClain produced this Article for the CALI Journal. Eddy is a founding CALI member and served as Past President, Chairman of the Board and as a Committee Chair for many years. Eddy is still very active in State and Federal Legislation matters to protect our industry. Enjoy this snapshot of history!