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HB21-1250

Measures to Address Law Enforcement Accountability

Concerning measures to address law enforcement accountability, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.
Session:
2021 Regular Session
Subject:
Crimes, Corrections, & Enforcement
Bill Summary

The bill makes changes to the provisions of Senate Bill 20-217, enacted in 2020, (SB 217) to provide clarity and address issues discovered since the passage of the bill. SB 217 used the term "exonerated", but never defined it; the bill defines "exonerated". Current law requires all local law enforcement agencies and the state patrol to provide body-worn cameras for their officers by July 1, 2023; the bill changes that date to July 1, 2022. The bill clarifies some of the circumstances when a body-worn camera must be operating and provisions related to the release of the footage. The bill changes the requirement that body-worn camera recordings be released within 21 days from the date of the complaint of misconduct to within 21 days from the date of the request for the video recording. The bill requires an officer to comply with the body-worn camera requirements states the sanctions for failing to activate a body-worn camera and the 21-day release requirement will take effect on passage of the bill if the officer is wearing a body camera, even though the requirement for all officers to wear a body camera does not take effect until July 1, 2023 2022. The bill requires $2 million to be appropriated to the body-worn camera for law enforcement officers fund in fiscal year 2021-22.

SB 217 required law enforcement to report certain information related to each contact an officer has with a person beginning January 1, 2023. The bill changes the start date of the reporting requirement to January 1, 2022. The bill expands the definition of "contact" to include welfare checks. The bill clarifies and adds to some of the information that must be reported.

SB 217 required the peace officers standards and training (P.O.S.T.) board to permanently decertify a peace officer if the officer failed to intervene and serious bodily injury or death occurred. The bill changes the penalty to a suspension of the officer's certification for one year. The bill creates a process to allow a peace officer to have a hearing by an administrative law judge to determine whether the peace officer's certification should be suspended or revoked.

The bill prohibits a peace officer's employer or the employer's agent from discharging; disciplining; demoting; denying a promotion, transfer, or reassign; discriminating against; harassing; or threatening a peace officer's employment because the peace officer disclosed information that shows:

  • A danger to public health or safety; or
  • A violation of law or policy committed by another peace officer.

Under current law, there is a civil action that permits suit against employers of local law enforcement officers for misconduct. The bill permits the Colorado state patrol to also be sued via that civil action. The bill also requires the employer to conduct an investigation of an officer prior to determining if the officer acted in good faith.

If a person believes that a law enforcement agency has violated the investigation requirement, the person must submit a complaint to the P.O.S.T. board, which shall refer the complaint to an administrative law judge to determine whether a violation occurred. The administrative law judge shall notify the P.O.S.T. board chair of a finding that a violation occurred. If a violation is found, the P.O.S.T. board shall not provide P.O.S.T. cash fund money to the employer for one full year from the date of the finding.

The bill requires a peace officer to use de-escalation techniques prior to the use of physical force and requires the use of physical force to be objectively reasonable.Peace officers are required to intervene to prevent or stop unlawful force by another peace officer; the bill clarifies the duty only applies to officers while on duty.

The bill requires that prior to hiring a new employee, appointing a new employee, or transferring an existing employee to a position requiring P.O.S.T. certification, a law enforcement agency shall determine if the person has a record contained in the P.O.S.T. misconduct database. If the person is listed in the database and the law enforcement agency proceeds to employ the person in a position requiring P.O.S.T. certification, the agency shall notify the P.O.S.T. board of the hire, appointment, or transfer.

The bill clarifies and adds to some of the information required to be included in the P.O.S.T. board database related to peace officer misconduct. The bill requires the P.O.S.T. board to adopt procedures to allow a peace officer to seek review of the officer's status in the database.The bill requires a governmental entity that encrypts its radio communications to adopt an encryption policy to provide access to unencrypted radio transmissions for members of the media.The bill appropriates $907,175 from the highway users tax fund to the department of public safety for use by the state patrol and provides an additional 7.0 FTE. The bill appropriates $582,742 from the risk management fund to the department of law and provides an additional 3.0 FTE.

(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)


(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)

Status

Introduced
Passed
Became Law

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Bill Text

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