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Police association offers no explanation for how Police Integrity Bill would put officers in danger

Police Protective Association opposes SB 20-217
Posted at 1:37 PM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-13 17:00:07-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Earlier this week, the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association released a statement in opposition of a bill currently making its way through the Colorado legislature.

The organization indicated that the bill would put officers in danger, but has not provided any evidence or position to better explain their statement issued "on behalf of its 1000+ members comprised of sworn, civilian and retired employees of the Colorado Springs Police Department."

Sponsors of Senate Bill 20-217 say the bill designed to uphold integrity within our law enforcement system and hold officers accountable for their actions.

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Among the bill’s new requirements:

  • If currently permitted, officers would no longer be able to use carotid chokeholds.
  • Officers can’t use deadly force to arrest someone on suspicion of minor or non-violent offenses.
  • Officers can’t use deadly force unless there is evidence of imminent threat of danger and there is a substantial risk that the suspect will hurt other human beings.
  • All police officers and sheriffs deputies will be required to wear body-worn cameras (BWC) when they make traffic stops and during most interactions with the public. Body camera footage will be required to be released to the public.
  • Officers can now be sued in civil court individually for alleged misconduct incidents— and will be responsible for up to $25,000 or 5-percent of the judgment, whichever is less. However, it has to be determined that the officer did not act in good faith.
  • Cops must have a legal basis for establishing in-person contact with someone, including stopping them on the street or pulling over vehicles in traffic.
  • By 2023, all police agencies are required to report use of force incidents that result in bodily injury or death to a state agency.
  • In response to a protest or a demonstration, cops can’t use chemical agents without first issuing a warning. They can’t fire rubber bullets indiscriminately into a crowd.
  • The Colorado Attorney General's Office will have the ability to investigate police departments for alleged civil rights violations.

You can read a detailed copy of the bill here.

Earlier this week, the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association issued this statement to KOAA 5:

“The Colorado Springs Police Protective Association, on behalf of its 1000+ members comprised of sworn, civilian and retired employees of the Colorado Springs Police Department, remains opposed to Senate Bill 20-217. While we acknowledge that the Senate has considered some of the concerns voiced by the law enforcement community, the bill remains punitive and ambiguous in nature. By attempting to hastily enact one size fits all reform, the legislature risks imposing a financial burden upon the State as well as local municipalities, and more importantly exponentially increases the dangers our police officers face every day. As the bill moves on to the House, the PPA stands by its position to oppose.”

KOAA News 5 sought clarity multiple times from Sherryl Dillon, executive director for the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association.

We asked how Senate Bill 20-217 would "exponentially increase the dangers our police officers face every day".

Two emails seeking clarification went unanswered.

After reaching out for a third time for comment, Dillon responded.

"Our previous comments regarding SB20-217 stand as is," Dillon said.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs Police Department could not address Dillon's statement, but a spokesperson was responsive to our inquiry seeking comment.

"Eric, while I appreciate you reaching out to me, CSPD is not currently making comments on this legislation, especially as is still a work in progress," Lt. Jim Sokolik said via email. "While the CSPPA’s membership is comprised of sworn and civilian staff, It does not speak on behalf of the Colorado Springs Police Department. It is a separate and distinct entity that speaks for its membership."

Records publicly available from the police association's board meetings do not indicate any discussions on Senate Bill 20-2017.

You can review the CSPPA's board meeting minutes and agendas dating back to April 2019 here.