(April 21) – Three more components of the “rebuilding trust” package of bills to boost public confidence in Colorado law enforcement agencies advanced in the House today.
SB15-219, sponsored in the House by Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, requires law enforcement agencies to have publicly established procedures for responding when a police officer is involved in a shooting which results in death or injury. In such cases, the incident response team should be drawn from other law enforcement agencies.
“When a law enforcement officer is involved in a shooting and members of the officer’s own agency perform the initial investigation, the potential for corruption and cronyism is significant,” Rep. Salazar said. “At the very least, it looks bad. This bill provides safeguards to rebuild public trust that police shootings are handled fairly.”
Also passing the Judiciary Committee today was SB15-218, sponsored in the House by Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver. Under the bill, when a law enforcement officer applies for employment to another Colorado law enforcement agency, the officer’s previous agency must disclose to the hiring agency whether the officer’s employment history includes any instances in which the officer made a knowing misrepresentation.
“Police officers shouldn’t be able to hide their records simply by joining a different police force,” Rep. Williams said. Law enforcement representatives testified in support of the bill.
Both Senate bills were sent to the House floor on unanimous 13-0 votes.
A third “rebuilding trust” bill passed the full House this morning on a voice vote. HB15-1290, sponsored by Reps. Salazar and Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, spells out the ways in which police officers are prohibited from interfering with a citizen’s right to record police activity, seizing such recordings or retaliating against citizens who exercise this right. Citizens are required to stay out of the way of officers performing their duties.
“You have the right to record any officer-involved incident, as long as you are doing it lawfully,” Rep. Esgar told the chamber.
Of the seven bills in the “rebuilding trust” package that were introduced in the House, six have now been heard on the floor, most of them receiving strong bipartisan support. One bill died in a House committee. Three other bills that started in the Senate passed that body unanimously and seem certain to pass the House as well.