April 8, 2022

JOINT RELEASE: GOVERNOR SIGNS BILLS TO PREVENT CRIME, IMPROVE MISSING PERSONS INVESTIGATIONS

DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed two bills into law that will prevent crime and improve missing persons investigations.


“The legislation signed today will make our communities safer by ensuring that law enforcement has the tools they need to charge suspects in possession of a weapon who were already convicted for a prior offense,” said Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora. “This bipartisan law, drafted based on recommendations by the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, will ensure consequences for people illegally possessing firearms – a commonsense way to prevent gun violence.”

“I am proud of the broad, bipartisan stakeholder work that went into crafting last year’s effort to reform misdemeanor sentencing laws, and today, we continue to build on that success by enacting additional bipartisan legislation which clarifies and strengthens provisions of last year’s reform,” said Senator Julie Gonzales, D-Denver. “Today’s bills signed into law will ensure that individuals who threaten public safety while committing the felony act of possession of a weapon by a previous offender will, upon conviction, face mandatory prison time. Our efforts will lead to safer communities by ensuring clarity in our sentencing statutes, and I am grateful that Governor Polis signed them both into law today.”

HB22-1257, sponsored by Representatives Mike Weissman and Matt Soper and Senators Julie Gonzales and Bob Gardner, was developed from recommendations of the bipartisan Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ), which includes representation from law enforcement and district attorneys .The commission approved the recommendations with no opposition. The law would update SB21-271, which passed the Senate unanimously last year. SB21-271, which was also developed from CCJJ recommendations, realigned the misdemeanor sentencing grid to better match sentencing guidelines to specific crimes.

HB22-1257 will make communities safer by expanding the types of prior offenses that would lead to someone being charged with the crime of “possession of a weapon by person with a prior offense” (POWPO). Republicans in the House largely opposed adding additional prior offenses to the list on the grounds that it would restrict the rights of felons to possess a firearm.

“The first hours after someone goes missing are the most crucial, but too often those precious hours are squandered, and that needs to change,” said Senator Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. “This bill will address those inadequacies and ensure that missing persons reports are taken seriously and responded to promptly. Streamlining our state investigation practices improves the chances of finding missing people, especially missing Indigenous women and women of color, and reuniting them with their families.”

“SB22-095 will strengthen our state’s response to missing persons reports and ensure that Colorado promptly initiates investigations and responds when someone is reported missing,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver. “Investigations into missing Indigienous women and women of color must be initiated promptly every time, regardless of where in Colorado the person went missing or was last seen. I’m proud the governor has signed this important legislation into law.”

“Every single missing person report filed in Colorado needs to be acted on quickly, and investigated with care,” said Senator Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City. “Unfortunately, far too many missing persons cases have been stymied by a broken set of rules that pick and choose which reports receive the level of care everyone deserves. Senate Bill 95 eliminates those barriers and increases the chances of reuniting missing people with their loved ones.”

“This law will make Colorado’s law enforcement departments more effective by better coordinating missing persons reports, no matter where they are filed or where in Colorado the person went missing,” said Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver. “Too many missing women, especially woman of color, and their loved ones are still seeking justice because their cases are underreported and under investigated. This law will streamline the process to initiate an investigation to ensure departments are communicating with each other and the Colorado Bureau of Investigations to locate missing persons.”

SB22-095, sponsored by Senators Rhonda Fields and Dominic Moreno and Representatives Gonzales-Gutierrez and Bacon, would improve missing persons investigations by clarifying when Colorado law enforcement departments must accept a missing persons report. Under current law, departments are required to accept a report submitted in person if the missing person resides in the agency’s jurisdiction or was last believed to be in the agency’s jurisdiction. The bill expands this requirement to include missing persons who are Colorado residents or were last believed to be in Colorado. It also requires reports to be accepted if they are submitted over the phone or electronically. If the missing person is an adult, the agency must notify the Colorado Bureau of Investigation within eight hours (down from 24 hours), and if the missing person is a child, the agency must notify CBI within 2 hours.