Federal ketamine legislation to be proposed by Colorado Congressmen

Local News

WASHINGTON (KDVR) – The FOX31 Problem Solvers have confirmed that two Colorado Congressmen are working on a federal bill that would impact how medical professionals use ketamine to treat agitated patients in a pre-hospital setting.

“We’re still vetting it, doing due diligence and talking with stakeholders,” said Rep. Jason Crow (CO, 6th District), who said he is working on the bill with his friend, Congressman Joe Neguse (CO, 2nd District). “We are very careful on our legislation to make sure that it’s the right legislation and it’s carefully crafted, and that’s the process we’re going through right now.”

According to Sally Tucker, a representative for Neguse, the issue is being discussed within the House Judiciary Committee and with the Congressional Black Caucus, but the pair is still weeks away from presenting anything publicly.

“I think ketamine is abused and overused in policing, and I think it has to end,” said Crow, who explained that the bill he is preparing with Neguse has been in the works for several months.

The ketamine issue is also being discussed at Colorado’s state House of Representatives.

In Colorado, medical professionals- not police – administer the drug, but the state bill would limit a law enforcement officer’s ability to verbally influence when and how the drug is used on a person who is also in police custody.

Some law enforcement officials have expressed concerns with the restrictions.

The state bill is scheduled for further debate on the floor of the state’s House of Representatives this week.

Use of Force Accountability Act

Last week, Crow introduced the Use of Force Accountability Act, in direct response to the death of Elijah McClain in 2019. The bill would require states to have a law that would require an independent investigation in police incidents that involve deadly force and resulted in death or injury.

“My job is not just to offer thoughts and prayers – to be there for the community, which of course I will be – but I’m a legislator. My job is to identify policies that we need to enact and improve to make sure injustices like this don’t happen again,” he said.

Crow’s proposed legislation would “compel states to have a law requiring an independent investigation of all officer-related deaths; mandate that, upon the completion of an independent investigation, the findings be referred to the internal affairs department of the law enforcement agency for review; and create a grant program to assist state attorney generals in implementing independent investigation statutes,” according to a description of the legislation on Crow’s website.

“We have to establish a standard,” said Crow.  “There has to be a bare minimum standard that as a society we have to agree on – this is what we want out of community policing,” he said.

“At the federal level, we can establish a standard and provide resources to help meet that standard,” he said, explaining that there are various sources of grant funding that are tied to the bill.

“It’s very simple,” he said. “It says, if there is an injury or death after the police use of force, there has to be an independent review of that. Like any professional or job in society, we know that we get better outcomes when we get an independent review.”

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