Colorado: Paradise Lost

 

 Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity (Short Version)
 

Beginning July 1, 2023, the act requires the division of criminal justice in the department of public safety (division) to create an annual report of the information that is reported to the division, aggregated and broken down by state or local agency that employs peace officers, along with the underlying data. Each local agency and the Colorado state patrol that employs peace officers shall report to the division:

  • All use of force by its peace officers that results in death or serious bodily injury;
  • All instances when a peace officer resigned while under investigation for violating department policy;
  • All data relating to contacts conducted by its peace officers; and
  • All data related to the use of an unannounced entry by a peace officer.

The division of criminal justice shall maintain a statewide database with data collected in a searchable format and publish the database on its website. Any state or local law enforcement agency that fails to meet its reporting requirements is subject to suspension of its funding by its appropriating authority.

Beginning July 1, 2023, the act requires all local law enforcement agencies and the Colorado state patrol to issue body-worn cameras to their officers, except for those working in jails, working as administrative or civilian staff, the executive detail of the state patrol, and those working in court rooms.

A peace officer shall wear and activate a body-worn camera when responding to a call for service or during any interaction with the public initiated by the peace officer when enforcing the law or investigating possible violations of the law.

A peace officer may turn off a body-worn camera to avoid recording personal information that is not case related; when working on an unrelated assignment; when there is a long break in the incident or contact that is not related to the initial incident; and during administrative, tactical, and management discussions.

Exception Undercover

A peace officer does not need to wear or activate a body-worn camera if the peace officer is working undercover.

The act requires all recordings of an incident be released to the public within 21 days after the local law enforcement agency or Colorado state patrol receives a complaint of misconduct.

Exception Undercover

The act states that in response to a protest or demonstration, a law enforcement agency and any person acting on behalf of the law enforcement agency shall not:

  • Discharge kinetic (motion), impact projectiles (bullets, ect.) and all other non- or less-lethal projectiles in a manner that targets the head, pelvis, or back;
  • Discharge kinetic impact projectiles indiscriminately into a crowd; or
  • Use chemical agents or irritants, including pepper spray and tear gas, prior to issuing an order to disperse in a sufficient manner to ensure the order is heard and repeated if necessary, followed by sufficient time and space to allow compliance with the order.

The act allows a person who has a constitutional right secured by the bill of rights of the Colorado constitution that is infringed upon by a peace officer to bring a civil action for the violation. A plaintiff who prevails in the lawsuit is entitled to reasonable attorney fees, and a defendant in an individual suit is entitled to reasonable attorney fees for defending any frivolous claims.

Qualified immunity simple put: protecting police for violating the defendants constitional rights, usually during an arrest, is not a defense for an (ordinary citizen).

A public entity (State of Colorado) does not have to indemnify (compensate), a peace officer if the peace officer was convicted of a criminal violation for the conduct from which the claim arises.

The act creates a new use of force standard by limiting the use of physical force and limiting the use of deadly force when force is authorized. This act prohibits a peace officer from using a chokehold.

The act requires a peace officer to intervene when another officer is using unlawful physical force and requires the intervening officer to file a report regarding the incident. If a peace officer fails to intervene when required, the P.O.S.T. shall decertify the officer.

 

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Author: Rath

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