How is Colorado’s red flag law being used? New report gives details

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Back in 2019, lawmakers passed the Deputy Zackari Parrish Violence Prevention Act.

It’s the state’s controversial red flag law, allowing family members or law enforcement to petition the courts to confiscate weapons from people who could be a threat.

The state released a report about how the law is being used and how it is working.

The attorney general’s office found the red flag procedures laid out by the law were used less than 125 times last year and of those instances, law enforcement were the main ones using the petitions. Attorney General Phil Weiser said that is not a bad thing.

“As a basic matter, law enforcement is and should be the natural place to go for red flag orders,” Weiser said. That’s exactly how Colorado’s violence prevention act is playing out so far.

The Colorado Department of Law found that 96% of petitions for temporary orders filed by law enforcement were successful. Only 32% of petitions filed by family members were successful.

Eighty-five percent of continuing orders from law enforcement went through. Those orders remove guns from someone for 364 days after law enforcement convinced a court that a person is a danger to themselves and others. Only 15% of continuing orders filed by family members were successful. Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock believes the law is working as it should.

“We’ve asked the courts to work with us on this when they have a citizen that submits a petition. We would like to, as law enforcement, be able to look into that petition and see if there are other ways that we can assist them,” Spurlock said.

He said it also honor the legacy of his fallen deputy.

“This can help us intervene, that’s what he wanted to do. That’s what he was trying to do that night: trying to intervene and save that individual’s life. I think it is doing what he was trying to do that night and I think it will continue to be a legacy for his sacrifice,” Spurlock said.

Weiser said the focus now is on educating more law enforcement and the public about the law. The study found only four people used the law in an inappropriate way; saying all four were situations where the people filing the petitions were untruthful about their relationship with the alleged offender. The cases were caught by courts. The attorney general wants to keep that number low.

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