House Debates, Advances Sweeping Police Accountability Proposal

DENVER, CO – The House today advanced Representative Leslie Herod and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez’s bill to ensure transparency, integrity, and accountability of Colorado’s law enforcement, and to finally make justice possible for victims of police brutality. The bill was approved on second reading. 

“Today we took decisive action to put an end to the police violence that has claimed countless Black and Brown lives here in Colorado and across the country,” said Rep. Herod, D-Denver. “Young Black men and women shouldn’t have to be taught to fear law enforcement. Innocent lives shouldn’t be violently taken by the officers sworn to protect them. And it should not have taken our state this long to do something about it. It took a nationwide movement that demanded change for us to be here today, but this is not a new conversation. It’s long past time for change.” 

“We’re one step away from making history in Colorado,” said Rep. Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver. “Black and brown communities in our state have fought and suffered for generations to further the cause of justice and demand that their government treat them with dignity, equality and respect. I’m proud of the work we did today to increase accountability, transparency, and integrity in our law enforcement, and I look forward to the day this bill gets signed into law. Our state will be much better for it.” 

SB20-217, the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act, would enact several provisions to prevent police brutality and increase transparency and accountability in our law enforcement. Among these provisions are the following: 

  • Mandate body cameras. The bill requires officers to wear body cameras and record interactions with members of the public that have potential for enforcement, and for footage of an incident of misconduct to be released to the public within 21 days. The bill includes privacy provisions for victims, witnesses, and juveniles, or when footage contains highly personal circumstances such as nudity, and it ensures the victim of the officer misconduct and the victim’s family receive the footage 24 hours prior to public release.
  • Require public reporting on policing. All law enforcement agencies would be required to track and publicly report data for any contacts they initiate for law enforcement purposes. That data would include any use of force (both the type and severity), civilian searches, forced entries into homes, the unholstering and discharge of a firearm, and demographic information on race, ethnicity, sex and age of the person contacted.
  • Rein in use of deadly force by officers. It would bring Colorado law in line with Supreme Court precedent holding that an officer may only use deadly force, including on someone who is fleeing the police, when there is an imminent risk of danger to human life if their apprehension is delayed. It also repeals an officer’s authority to ever use dangerous tactics like the chokehold.
  • Prevent the rehiring of bad actors. If an officer is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, any inappropriate use of physical force, their POST certification would be revoked. Officers who are found untruthful, terminated for cause, or decertified would be listed in a public database to prevent them from moving from one agency to another.
  • Hold individual officers liable for their actions. It would allow victims of police misconduct to bring a lawsuit for the violation of their constitutional rights within a two-year statute of limitations, and officers convicted of misconduct would no longer be shielded by the doctrine of qualified immunity. It would make the failure to intervene during another officer’s inappropriate use of physical force a class 1 misdemeanor 
  • Restricts the use of chemical agents and projectiles. In light of incidents at recent protests, this bill would prohibit law enforcement officers from using tear gas without first verbalizing orders to disperse a crowd and allowing individuals adequate time to comply. The bill prohibits officers from targeting rubber bullets at someone’s head, torso, or back.

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