Police Transparency Bills Get First Stamp of Approval

DENVER, Colo. -- The Senate Judiciary Committee today gave a green light to three bipartisan policing improvement bills – SB-217, SB-218 and SB-219 -- aimed at strengthening public confidence in law enforcers by increasing transparency, accountability and data collection.

SB-217 requires law enforcement agencies to gather detailed data on officer-involved shootings over a ten year period, which will be provided to the Colorado Department of Criminal Justice for compilation, analysis and annual reporting to the Judiciary Committees in the House and Senate. 

SB-218 will help police departments improve their ability to detect and screen-out unsuitable job candidates by allowing that department, before a hiring decision is made, to access any personnel information related to the applicant’s past substantiated intentional misrepresentations, official misconduct or use of excessive force. 

SB-219 requires Colorado law enforcement entities to develop protocols for requesting independent outside assistance, including from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, for investigations of peace officer-involved shootings. The bill also requires that any district attorney who declines to file criminal charges in such shooting cases publicly disclose the basis for that decision. 

“These bills offer measured, calibrated, cost-effective changes that will help maintain continued public confidence in law enforcement by improving transparency, data collection and public reporting,” said Senator John Cooke (R-Weld County), who until recently served as Weld County Sheriff. “Our approach tightens procedures and strengthens data collection, while recognizing that the vast majority of Colorado’s law enforcers do their jobs with the highest degree of professionalism, honor and integrity.” 

“By talking through these issues in advance with current or former law enforcers, we were able to focus on practical, real world changes that can improve transparency and accountability in police operations across Colorado, whether in urban or rural areas,” added Senator Ellen Roberts (R-Durango.) “The broad appeal of this approach is shown by the fact that two of these bills also have the support of Representative Angela Williams, a Democrat from Denver, who represents a district far different from mine.” 

“I’m very pleased that these bills enjoy strong bipartisan support,” said Representative Williams (D-Denver), who coordinated the seven “rebuilding trust” bills starting in the House. “I’m especially grateful to Senators Cooke and Roberts for their contributions to this package.” 

Two of the bills will now be taken-up by the Senate as a whole. The third must first pass muster with the budget committee.

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