NewsCovering Colorado


Gov. Jared Polis signs sweeping police reform bill into law

KOAA Covering Colorado
Posted at 5:54 AM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 12:39:38-04

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis signed a police reform and accountability bill into law alongside bill sponsors Friday morning. The "Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Bill" was introduced in the wake of demonstrations following George Floyd's death.

"Police reform is a constructive part of a much larger puzzle," Polis said. He said to continue this work in the right direction, a new normal needs to be created.

Sen. Leroy Garcia said the bill brings greater accountability and increased integrity to law enforcement. Rep. Leslie Herod spoke specifically on the "fleeing felon rule," which is being removed with this bill.

"What we can do is take a big step in the right direction," Herod said.

Senate Bill 217 gives law enforcement agencies more time to come into compliance with certain provisions of the bill, to ban carotid control holds and to put more requirements on district attorney's offices about reporting on officers' use of force and grand jury indictments.

Law enforcement agencies will have until Sept. 1 to put new use-of-force rules into effect and until 2023 to put in place the requirement that nearly all officers wear body cameras or have dash cameras. The bill allows up to 45 days for body camera video in excessive force cases to be released.

Grand juries can issue a report if they decide not to indict an officer involved in a person's death, a requirement for a judge or internal affairs investigator to present to the district attorney if an officer is found to have failed in intervening to prevent another officer's use of unlawful physical force, and for a district attorney to issue a statement if a case is sent to a grand jury.

Families of people killed by officers would also be able to request a copy of body camera video of their family member's death up to 72 hours before it is publicly disclosed. The bill will also require officers to tell victims of crimes when they are being recorded. Jail guards, CSP troopers at the Capitol and court officers would not have to wear body cameras.

Data, when available, would also be required to be reported if an officer unholsters or discharges their weapon – on top of when they had been required by the bill to report when they pointed a weapon at a person.

The portion of the bill to ban the carotid hold, which several Colorado law enforcement agencies have banned recently, comes on top of language in the bill that banned chokeholds.

The bill also removes the "fleeing felon rule," which allowed officers to use deadly force to stop a person suspected of having a weapon. Lawmakers pointed to De'Von Bailey's shooting death as reasoning for removing the rule.

It also appropriates money for agencies to come into requirements – most of which will go to the Department of Public Safety for FY2020-21 for maintaining body camera footage.

The attorney general's office can also bring criminal charges if an officer's violation is "willful or wanton" and can impose fines, under the changes.

To read the full bill, click here.

Sweeping police reform bill heads to governor after Colorado Senate OKs amendments