Senate GOP Takes Measured, Real World Approach on Policing Improvements

A number of policing improvement bills introduced at the Statehouse today have bipartisan support as a result of close and productive consultations between bill sponsors from both parties. However, Republicans were more selective in the bills they supported or authored, believing that neither the police nor the public will be well-served by actions that aren’t tailored to conditions in Colorado.

“We worked from the premise that the vast, vast majority of Colorado law enforcers consistently uphold the highest professional and ethical standards, despite vary rare aberrations that grab headlines and raise public concerns,” Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) said of the bills Republicans authored or co-sponsored with Democrats. “The bills we co-sponsored or authored were crafted in consultation with current or former law enforcers, keeping the entire state of Colorado in mind, not just the urbanized Front Range. Our reforms will address genuine issues relevant to law enforcement realities in Colorado, not Ferguson, Missouri, in a measured, targeted, cost-effective way.”

One of those offering reality checks and a real world perspective was Sen. John Cooke (R-Greeley), who until recently served as the widely-respected sheriff of Weld County.

"If there's a legitimate problem with a particular law enforcement agency, then let's address that particular problem and not paint the issue with a broad brush,” said Cooke. “What works down here in Denver might not work over in Gunnison or up in Weld County. We don’t support a scattershot, one-size-fits-all approach, but prefer to support actions that cost-effectively address legitimate problems.”

A summary of Republican-supported policing improvement bills is below.

GOP Policing Improvement Bills with Democrat Sponsors:

Potential Law Enforcement Employer’s Access to Applicant Officer’s Past Intentional Misrepresentation, Official Misconduct, or Use of Excessive Force – This bill will provide that a law enforcement agency shall have, prior to making a hiring decision and with the waiver provided by the applicant officer, access to any personnel information related to the applicant’s past substantiated intentional misrepresentation, official misconduct, or use of excessive force.

Sponsors: Sens. Roberts and Cooke, Rep. Williams

Data Collection of Officer Involved Shootings – Starting in 2010 and ending in 2020, law enforcement agencies will gather data of officer-involved shootings that provide details on the suspect and the officer involved in the incident. This information will be provided to the Colorado Department of Criminal Justice for compilation and reported out on an annual basis to the Judiciary Committees in both the House and Senate

Sponsors: Sens. Roberts and Cooke, Rep. Williams

Peace Officer Shootings Transparency Measures -- This bill will require protocol development for each law enforcement agency to utilize a multi-agency team or involving another law enforcement agency, such as Colorado Bureau of Investigation, for investigations of a peace officer-involved shooting. Also, the bill requires a DA who declines to file criminal charges against a peace officer for a peace officer shooting to publicly disclose the basis for not charging the officer.

Sponsors: Sens. Roberts and Cooke, Rep. Salazar

House Democrat Policing Improvement Bills with Senate GOP Sponsor:

Body Cameras -- This bill provides for a grant program to encourage and financially support the widespread use of body-worn cameras by Colorado law enforcement officers. 

Sponsors: Rep. Kagan, Sen. Cooke

Police Officer Training Reform --This bill will revise the current POST board composition and training requirements, possibly including regular community policing and anti-bias training, proper use of chokeholds, and officer hiring best practices.

Sponsors: Rep. Williams, Sen. Cooke


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