Code of the District of Columbia

§ 47–2839. Private detectives; “detective” defined; regulations.

(a) Private detectives, or detective agencies, by whatsoever name called, shall pay a license tax of $158 per annum; provided, that no license shall be issued under this section without the approval of the Chief of Police.

(b) For the purpose of this section, the term “detective” or “detective agency” means and includes any person, firm, or corporation engaged in the business of, or advertising, or representing himself, or itself, as being engaged in the business of detecting, discovering, or revealing crime or criminals, or securing information for evidence relating thereto, or discovering or revealing the identity, whereabouts, character, or actions of any person or persons, thing or things.

(c) It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in the business of detective, or operate, manage, or conduct a detective agency, for profit or gain, or to advertise or represent his business to be that of a detective, or that of conducting, managing, or operating a detective agency, without first obtaining a license so to do.

(d) The Council of the District of Columbia is authorized and empowered to make such reasonable regulations as it deems advisable for the government and conduct of the business of private detectives licensed hereunder, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia is authorized and empowered to revoke the license of a private detective when in his judgment such is deemed advisable in the public interest.

(e) All laws which govern the Metropolitan Police force of the District of Columbia in the matters of persons, property, or money shall be applicable to all private detectives licensed hereunder, and such detectives shall make like returns and dispositions of such matters as is required by existing law and the rules of the Mayor of the District of Columbia governing the Metropolitan Police Department.

(f) Any license issued pursuant to this section shall be issued as a Public Safety endorsement to a basic business license under the basic business license system as set forth in subchapter I-A of this chapter.

(g) All license fees collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the Occupations and Professions Licensing Special Account established pursuant to § 47-2853.11.


(July 1, 1902, 32 Stat. 628, ch. 1352, § 7, par. 41; July 1, 1932, 47 Stat. 559, ch. 366; Sept. 14, 1976, D.C. Law 1-82, title I, § 104(y), 23 DCR 2461; enacted, Apr. 9, 1997, D.C. Law 11-254, § 2, 44 DCR 1575; Apr. 20, 1999, D.C. Law 12-261, § 2003(pp)(35), 46 DCR 3142; Oct. 28, 2003, D.C. Law 15-38, § 3(hh)(4)(X), 50 DCR 6913; Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 3012(a), 60 DCR 12472.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 47-2839.

1973 Ed., § 47-2341.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 47-2853.11.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 15-38, in subsec. (f), substituted “Public Safety endorsement to a basic business license under the basic” for “Class A Public Safety endorsement to a master business license under the master”.

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-61 added (g).

Cross References

Mayor, Council and other offices, application of certain sections to boards, commissions and committees, see § 1-321.02.

Metropolitan police, private detectives, see §§ 5-121.01 to 5-121.04.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3(hh)(4)(X) of Streamlining Regulation Emergency Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-145, August 11, 2003, 50 DCR 6896).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3012(a) of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3012(a) of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

Short Title

Section 3011 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle B of Title III of the act may be cited the “Security Licensing Streamlining Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

Office of Major and Superintendent of Metropolitan Police abolished: The Office of the Major and Superintendent of Metropolitan Police was abolished and all functions of that office transferred to and vested in the Chief of Police. The Assistant Superintendent, Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Police Department was designated “Deputy Chief of Police, Executive Officer”; the Assistant Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police in command of the Detective Bureau was designated “Deputy Chief of Police, Chief of Detectives”; and each other Assistant Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police was designated “Deputy Chief of Police” by Reorganization Order No. 7, dated September 16, 1952. Reorganization Order No. 7 was replaced by Organization Order No. 153, dated November 10, 1966.

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.