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Amendment coming to “prone restraint” bill at state capitol

Posted at 9:17 PM, Apr 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 22:01:48-04

COLORADO — A bill that could limit when police and detention officers can use an arrest technique called “prone restraint” was advanced during a committee hearing on Tuesday.

The bill passed on a party line vote with all three Republicans voting against it. Numerous law enforcement officers testified against the original language of the bill. An amendment introduced Tuesday gained support from most officers.

Prone restraint is a technique where a suspect lays on the ground on their stomach while an officer arrests them.

Representative Leslie Herod (Denver- D) said the amendment has the support of many law enforcement organizations including the Colorado State Patrol (CSP).

“It clarifies that prone restraint is a use of force,” Herod said about the amendment, “it also clarifies that each organization, each agency must have policies outlining how and when they use prone restraint and putting that information up on social or online," Herod said.

The introduced bill has faced pushback from law enforcement officials in the state, including Colorado Springs Chief of Police Adrian Vasquez.

“This is a bill that really does concern me,” Colorado Springs Chief of Police Adrian Vasquez said, “This is a tactic that our officers use so often, and it is really about their safety and the safety of the individual that they're taking into custody.”

Vasquez and Pueblo Police Chief Chris Noeller testified in committee Tuesday.

Vaquez sees the bill as a ban, as the current language limits when officers can use prone restraint to only situations where deadly force is used.

Herod said the bill is not a ban.

“That has all been amended. And he's [Colorado Springs Police Chief] well aware of the amendments and has seen them as they've worked through the process,” Herod said.

News5 reached out to CSPD about the amendment, Chief Vasquez sent the following statement: “While there has been talk of amendments to the bill, I will need to wait and see what any amendments that are formally introduced say before I could comment on them."

In an interview with News5 last week, Vasquez said he would be open to amendments, specifically when it comes to training and prone restraint.

“I think what we can all get behind is an amendment that really looks at some training and policy around when is it appropriate to use this technique? What is theappropriate time frame to move them into a different position so that they can breathe, which would inevitably be sitting or standing after handcuffed.” Vasquez said.

The bill requires an officer to place a suspect into a “recovery position” after handcuffing them. It’s something law enforcement officers say is typical.

“That makes perfect sense,” Steve Noblitt, a retired police officer who now runs a security company in Colorado Springs said, “We train it. We want people in a recovery position as soon as possible.”

Prone restraint has led to some deadly instances in police custody, notably the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Herod pointed to an incident in Aug. 2020 in Aurora, where young black girls were handcuffed by police, placed in the prone restraint position, and held at gunpoint. The family in that case received a $1.9 million settlement in February.

“That should never happen,” Herod said, “most law enforcement agencies completely agree. And so what this bill does is it aligns with current law enforcement policies around prone restraint should and shouldn't be used, but it does put accountability for when someone violates when law enforcement violates someone's constitutional rights.”

The bill now moves onto the appropriations committee before heading to the full house for a vote.

Read the full text of the bill here: Regulating Law Enforcement Use of Prone Restraint.


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