Beet Foundation Newz

Protests push back pays off? Colorado law enforcement reforms SB20-217

Section: newz
Source: Jopa - Beet Foundation
Published: 2020-06-24
From: source url
Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity SB20-217 was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis on Juneteenth, Friday June 19th 2020.

Nationwide protests have pushed many States to make law enforcement reforms, Colorado is among the first to pass reforms to qualified immunity while also restricting protest suppression, refining body camera code, require officers to intervene if they see another officer using excessive force, enhancing violent officer reporting with a State database of officers who have been decertified, fired, not truthful, ...

You can view the bill here:

Amanda Pampuro at reported on 06/19/20

Created by the Supreme Court in 1967, qualified immunity is a commonly used affirmative defense shielding government officials from civil suits for actions taken in the course of their job. Because it is a federal policy, Colorado’s move only impacts police officers accused of violating state law.

“Colorado didn’t necessarily revoke qualified immunity because the state can’t,” explained Ben Levin, associate professor at Colorado Law. “What Colorado did in this in this bill, which I think is really creative, it creates a state cause of action in Colorado State courts, for people whose rights have been violated under the Colorado State Constitution.”

Critics of Colorado’s change say police need qualified immunity in order to protect the difficult split-second decisions required by the job. Supporters, however, say the law only creates an avenue for citizens to bring their grievances and does not guarantee the outcome.

Brooke Seipel at The Hill reported on 06/19/20.

“By facing the cold hard truth about the unequal treatment of Black Americans and communities of color, we can and we will create real change that will materially improve the lives of countless Americans of this generation and future generations,” Polis said before signing the bill. “And we can bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.”

The sweeping Colorado bill also requires all state and local police wear body cameras by 2023 — with footage being made public — and bans chokeholds, shooting fleeing suspects and using deadly force unless a life is in immediate danger. It also requires officers to report every time they stop someone they suspect of a crime and record that person's ethnicity, race and gender.

The bill also asks cops to report their colleagues for wrongdoing, and will make officers personally liable for up to $25,000 in damages if they violate someone's civil rights.

The bill was led by State Rep. Leslie Herod (D) and sponsored by fellow Democrats state Sen. Leroy Garcia, state Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and state Sen. Rhonda Fields. All lawmakers are people of color, and they worked alongside the American Civil Liberties Union to craft the legislation.

Sandy Malone at The Police Tribune site reported a more critical view, voicing some officer concerns.

Removal of the qualified immunity protections allows officers to be personally sued even when they didn’t break the law.

This leaves officers with no due process to avoid fines outside of their police department’s review. A police department may offer a large settlement to a plaintiff and then force the officer to pay 5% of it.

The legislation calls for officers to lose their Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) board certification permanently after having pleaded guilty to an inappropriate use of force, failure to intervene to stop excessive force, or after having been found civilly liable for excessive force or failure to intervene.

Going forward, the law requires all law enforcement agencies to track all of their contacts with the public and report it to the state for use in a statewide searchable database, including use of force resulting in serious injury or death, stops, unannounced entries, and use of firearms, along with the race and ethnicity of the person contacted.

SB 217 also gives the Colorado Attorney General the authority to go after persistently bad police departments and officers.

In response to recent concerns about how violent protesters were handled by authorities in Denver, the new law bans the use of tear gas against protesters without first warning them and giving them an opportunity to clear the area, the Denver Post reported.

After looking over the bill myself, and reading the opinions above, which I really don't agree with much on either side of the argument. I will just say the red flags (top down centralized data/control, bottom up administrative/management loopholes) look outweighed by perceived improvements (decentivized brutality, more remedies/recourse).

We are still allowing tear gas domestically after all, why? Many modern tactics are shady and beastly, don't get me started on the lying and deception. Hopefully this will bring more humane enforcement methodology or at least start the trend.

Many of the changes are already in effect as of the passing of the bill though some will take effect on September 1, 2020 or July 1, 2023.