Colorado police reform bill could be on governor’s desk by week’s end

Politics

DENVER (KDVR) — A sweeping police reform bill could be on the governor’s desk by the end of the week. The legislation, proposed following the killing of George Floyd, passed the state Senate overwhelmingly Tuesday morning.

The bill would ban chokeholds and would require every officer in Colorado to wear body cameras. That requirement is an unfunded mandate that is concerning for smaller departments.

The bill would also require officers to keep their fellow officers in check by preventing them from using excessive force.

What’s most concerning to the rank and file is the removal of qualified immunity — allowing police officers to be sued individually.

“It’s important to [craft legislation] in a way that doesn’t cause hesitation for police officers to do their job,” said Rob Pride, a police officer and national trustee for the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police.

Pride is working with Colorado lawmakers and White House staffers in crafting various policies. He said he’s confident that when the Colorado bill becomes law, it will be a law police can live with.

“We already have a problem recruiting good, young, forward-thinking diverse officers into this profession, and we certainly don’t want legislation that will make that more difficult,” he said.

Hailey Landwehr is a student at the University of Colorado Denver. She is an aspiring police officer who has given extra thought to her career path in recent weeks.

“I don’t think it has to be divisive,” Landwehr said. “I think you can support both sides.”

She said she understands the need for reform but also believes most officers are good people. The calls for more police scrutiny are not dissuading her from fulfilling her dreams.

“I recognize the need for good people within that field,” she said.

Those demanding cultural change in law enforcement say they know it won’t be easy — even for those who they call “the good cops.”

“How are we supposed to trust and depend on you when your fellow officer is doing criminal, illegal activity and you don’t even speak up for that?” a demonstrator said outside the Capitol on Tuesday.

The bill next heads to the House, where it is expected to be approved before being sent to the governor’s desk.

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