GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (KDVR) — Protesters gathered at Greenwood Village City Hall Thursday to demonstrate against a new resolution promising to protect police officers from personal financial liability in civil lawsuits.
“This resolution by Greenwood Village City Council is illegal per Senate Bill 217,” said activist Terrance Roberts. “Don’t let this decision fool you, Greenwood Village police officers. If you hurt somebody you’re not supposed to, we’re popping up!”
Less than a month ago, Gov. Jared Polis signed the Law Enforcement Integrity Act into law, which strips officers of qualified immunity. According to the law, if a city finds its officer acted in bad faith, then the officer is “liable and shall not be indemnified by the peace officer’s employer for 5% of the judgement or settlement or $25,000, whichever is less.”
In a statement, Greenwood Village said, “We do not believe that the added potential punishment of $25,000 judgment will affect their actions one way or another.”
The statement goes on to say there are plenty of mechanisms between the Integrity Act and their own department policy to hold officers accountable.
Mayor George Lantz told council Monday that city leaders to ensure they can “retain and are able to recruit the officers that we want and we need.”
He went on to say they’ve already lost one veteran officer to the uncertainty caused by stripped qualified immunity. Other police departments in the state are also dealing with a similar uneasiness.
“What I do think is this has created a lot of anxiety in good police officers,” said Cory Christensen, president of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police. “This has created challenges for police chiefs all over the state.”
In a statement, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said:
“If local governments pass resolutions to place a blanket shield for their law enforcement officers, regardless of whether they act in bad faith, they are going against the spirit of SB 20-217 and its goal of accountability for wrongful conduct. I encourage local governments to implement this law as envisioned and find appropriate ways to demonstrate their support and appreciation for responsible law enforcement officers. If they decline to do so, I expect the legislature will take action in January to address this issue.”