The Private Investigators Association of Virginia Inc, commonly known as PIAVA, is the only membership organization in the Commonwealth of Virginia focusing solely on service to the Private Investigator profession.

Our association traces its roots back to purely social gatherings of roughly a dozen or so private investigation firm owners, who had been meeting monthly at the Black Angus Restaurant in Springfield, Virginia for quite some time.

Eventually, an idea emerged from those get-togethers: Establish an association composed of private investigation firms with the purposes of:

  • Promoting and maintaining the highest practices of the profession.

  • Fostering a spirit of cooperation and developing trust, goodwill and friendship among its members, law enforcement and the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The association would be called the Private Investigators Association of Virginia.

During the summer of 1982, the vision was realized when our association was born as a corporation. Since then, PIAVA has withstood the tests of time, overcoming challenges and growing stronger than our founders could possibly have envisioned.

By October 1985 – year four of our existence – PIAVA members voted to break the glass ceiling by electing Ms. Joan Beach as president. Ms. Beach led our association for four years. During the summer of 2014, Ms. Beach was awarded Life Membership in the association and honored for her service to PIAVA and the industry.

From our humble beginnings to the present day, our membership has been composed largely of law enforcement from every level of government, national security and military alums. In their public lives, our members have served with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US Secret Service (USSS), US Marshals Service (USMS), US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (US-ICE), US Department of Defense (US-DoD), US Military Special Operations Forces (US-SOF), United Nations (UN), State Police Departments, Municipal Police Departments, Sheriffs Offices and other organizations.

Our members have been lawyers, doctors, journalists, authors, war crimes investigators, homicide detectives, financial crimes investigators, crime scene specialists, aviation incident investigators, terrorism experts, technical countermeasure specialists and so on. And we have had any number of civilians turned private investigators, who benefited from the breadth and depth of investigative expertise within our ranks to develop rewarding careers.

Many members are credentialed in one jurisdiction or more other than Virginia, some work internationally, any number are multilingual. Members have represented the private investigations industry by serving on the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (VA DCJS) Private Security Services Advisory Board (PSSAB). One member has served as president of the Council of International Investigators (CII).

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, as in the overwhelming majority of United States jurisdictions, private investigators (PIs) and private investigations businesses (PIBs) are regulated. Initially, Virginia PIs and PIBs were overseen by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). Next, we were regulated by the Department of Commerce (DoC), which was followed by the Department of Criminal Justice Services – Private Security Services (DCJS – PSS) and then the Division of Regulatory Affairs. Presently, we are overseen by the Department of Criminal Justice Services – Division of Law Enforcement and Private Security Services (DCJS – DLE/ PSS).

PIAVA is strong, accomplished and focused. Our members are skilled, experienced and dedicated. We pledge to operate within a Code of Ethics and strive to operate in the spirit of our Preamble, helping one another with camaraderie. By so doing, our profession is strengthened and the public good is upheld.

We are the Private Investigators Association of Virginia Inc – PIAVA.


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