Colorado

What to do here

Click a "Get Template" button to get an email template about a specific issue. Edit the template to connect on a more personal level with your lawmaker. See the Contacting Logistics page for information about how to write an effective email to your lawmakers. Get your lawmakers' emails with the search box to the right. Send the email!

Be sure to check out the Next Steps at the bottom of the page. Go to the References/Further Reading page to see our sources and do some research of your own.

Last updated March 5, 2020

Summary

Key:

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Legislation Achieved

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Some Progress

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No Progress

Demilitarization

Learn about demilitarization and the specific issues below on the Demilitarization page (opens in a new window).

 

No knock warrants

No Progress:

Colorado has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants. State law, however, requires there be "probable cause" and the no-knock warrant must to be "reviewed and approved for legal sufficiency and signed by a DA". Locally, The City Council of Aurora passed a measure in October 2020 that bans no-knock warrants.

1033 purchases

No Progress:

Colorado has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments.

Military style training

No Progress:

Colorado has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage.

SWAT data

No Progress:

Colorado has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use. SWAT teams are not under Colorado's definition of 'peace officers' who must meet the new standards of SB217, so the new reform bill does not apply to them. There is no requirement for recording or cataloging SWAT team use.

For Profit Policing

Learn about for profit policing and the specific issues below on the For Profit Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Civil asset forfeiture

Some Progress:

HB17-1313 and HB18-1020 increased the standards for reporting forfeiture cases and the amount of proceeds gained, and the latter reform included property seized under public nuisance laws or ordinances. The reports are public and a fine enforces the reporting. However, a law enforcement agency can still keep 50% of the proceeds from seizure.

Quotas

No Progress:

Colorado has not yet enacted a law ending quotas for low-level arrests.

Cost of misconduct

Some Progress:

In Colorado, individual officers are liable for $25,000 or 5% of the settlement. If this is "uncollectible" from the officer, the employer or insurance will be responsible for the sum. This is a provision of SB217. However, this law excludes state-employed officers from liability due to concerns that including these officers would financially burden the state.

Broken Windows Policing

Learn about broken windows policing and the specific issues below on the Broken Windows Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Minor offenses

Some Progress:

Marijuana use is legal and in 2019, Governor Polis signed HB19-1263 that de-felonizes single-use drug possession, so that those caught face a misdemeanor charge instead. This is for Schedule I and II substances. However, loitering on school property is a petty offense. Spitting can be classified as harassment, which is a misdemeanor. If charged, it could lead to up to 6 months in jail, or $50-$750 in fines.

Objective justification for stops

Some Progress:

Under Colorado's SB217, peace officers must have a "legal basis for making a contact, whether consensual or non-consensual, for the purpose of enforcing the law or investigating possible violations of the law" and they must report the details of these contacts. The bill does not explicitly prohibit stops for furtive movements.

Reporting stop details

Achieved:

SB217 requires officers to record each stop by including race, gender, use of force, and presence of a firearm.

Accountability

Learn about accountability and the specific issues below on the Accountability page (opens in a new window).

 

Reckless civil rights violation

Achieved:

Colorado's SB217 "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." The statute does not require such an infringement to be "willful".

Independent investigation

Some Progress:

Under SB217 (2020), by 2023, Colorado police departments must report "all use of force that results in bodily injury or death to a state agency" designated to be the Division of Criminal Justice within the state AG's office. Furthermore, the bill allows investigations to be conducted by an administrative law judge hearing officer, or Colorado's P.O.S.T (Peace Officer Standards and Training) Board. In addition, the city of Denver has an Office of the Independent Monitor (OIM), which is a "civilian oversight agency for the City and County of Denver Police and Sheriff Departments."

Qualified immunity

Achieved:

SB217 prohibits the use of qualified immunity as a defense against charges of misconduct or rights violations in Colorado.

Reinvesting in Communities

Learn about reinvesting in communities and the specific issues below on the Reinvesting in Communities page (opens in a new window).

 

Mental health response

No Progress:

Colorado has not yet enacted a law creating and funding a mental health task force available to respond to crisis calls (in lieu of police). However, Denver started a program that has a clinician and a paramedic on staff to respond to mental health 911 calls. This is the beginning phase of the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) program. The trial run began on June 1st, 2020.

Education, Housing, Community Health Resources

No Progress:

It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.

Next Steps

No matter what, register to vote:

Contacting officials is just one piece of the puzzle we can't stop there. We need to make sure our elected officials reflect our values and support reform at every level of government. Register here:

To keep these policies at the forefront:

Keep emailing about them (if you just finished the 5 Days Challenge, keep up the schedule—set reminders in your phone to email about each issue on its specific day).

To ask for more than this:

Use our templates as a model to ask for bigger changes. Color for Change and The Movement for Black Lives both have specific policy related to a reimagined law enforcement system. If you think there are additional policies we ought to consider, send your thoughts our way.

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