SB20-217 Enhance Colorado Law Enforcement Integrity
Concerning measures to enhance law enforcement integrity, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.
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. A peace officer does not need to wear or activate a body-worn camera if the peace officer is working undercover. The act creates inferences, presumptions, and sanctions for failing to activate or tampering with a body-worn camera. 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. The act allows for redaction or nonrelease of the recording to the public if there is a specified privacy interest at stake.
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.
If any peace officer is convicted of or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to a crime involving the unlawful use or threatened use of physical force or the failure to intervene in another officer's use of unlawful force or is found civilly liable in either case, the P.O.S.T. board shall permanently revoke the peace officer's certification. The P.O.S.T. board shall not, under any circumstances, reinstate the peace officer's certification or grant new certification to the peace officer unless exonerated by a court.
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 impact projectiles 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 is not a defense to the civil action. The act requires a political subdivision of the state to indemnify its employees for such a claim; except that if the peace officer's employer determines the officer did not act upon a good faith and reasonable belief that the action was lawful, then the peace officer is personally liable for 5 percent of the judgment or $25,000, whichever is less, unless the judgment is uncollectible from the officer, then the officer's employer satisfies the whole judgment. A public entity does not have to indemnify 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. The 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.
Under current law, if a grand jury does not bring charges against a person, the grand jury may issue a report. The act requires the grand jury to issue a report when it does not charge a person.
Beginning, January 1, 2022, the act requires the P.O.S.T. board to create and maintain a database containing information related to a peace officer's:
Repeated failure to follow P.O.S.T. board training requirements;
Termination for cause.
The act makes it unlawful for any governmental authority to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by peace officers that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the constitution or laws of the United States or the state of Colorado. Whenever the attorney general has reasonable cause to believe that a violation of this provision has occurred, the attorney general may in a civil action obtain any and all appropriate relief to eliminate the pattern or practice.
The act allows the P.O.S.T. board to revoke peace officer certification for a peace officer who has failed to complete required peace officer training after giving the officer 30 days to satisfactorily complete the training.
The act gives the P.O.S.T. board the authority to promulgate rules for enforcement of the provisions related to peace officer certification. The attorney general may bring criminal charges for violations of the provisions related to peace officer certification if violation is willful or wanton, or impose fines upon any individual officer or agency for failure to comply with the provisions related to peace officer certification.
The act requires a peace officer to have a legal basis for making a contact. After making a contact, a peace officer shall report to the peace officer's employing agency information that the agency is required to report to the division of criminal justice.
The act appropriates $617,478 from the highway users tax fund to the department of public safety for use by the Colorado state patrol. To implement this act, the patrol may use this appropriation as follows:
$50,288 for civilians, including an additional 1.0 FTE;
$7,550 for operating expenses;
$463,700 for information technology asset maintenance; and
$95,940 for the purchase of legal services, which is reappropriated to the attorney general's office. (Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)