Police accountability bill introduced following a week of protests

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Published Friday, June 5, 2020
by Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) - Colorado Democrats have introduced legislation they say will help increase law enforcement accountability and reduce police brutality.

The legislation, Senate Bill 20-217, comes as protests in Denver have continued on for a week in response to the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

Th bill, also called the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act, was introduced Wednesday by Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, and Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver.

"We need to make changes here at the State Capitol and at statehouses across the country. We will take action to protect black lives, hold law enforcement accountable, and ensure that police officers truly serve and protect all of us," Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, who chairs the Black Caucus, said in a statement.

The legislation would require law enforcement departments to fire police officers who plead guilty to or are convicted of unlawfully using force. Officers who fail to intervene when excessive force occurs would also be fired, according to the bill. It would also bar the use of qualified immunity for a legal defense, which has been used to shield law enforcement officers from costly liability lawsuits.

SB 20-217 additionally would require all law enforcement to wear body cameras and publicly release footage within two weeks of an incident.

Law enforcement agencies would be required to report demographic data of civilian stops and searches, forced home entries, and uses of force to the Department of Public Safety, which will compile an annual report. 

"Communities of color have been brutalized by police discrimination and violence for far too long and the recent demonstrations reflect that," Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, said. "Police officers are in a position of public trust and should be held to the highest standard of conduct and accountability. But countless officers have escaped justice - eroding people's confidence in those responsible for protecting the community. We need to root out those causing this erosion and reform our police transparency and repercussion standards."

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