DENVER — A brand-new law designed to help Colorado first responders injured in the line of duty hit a brief snag Monday.
Bill Holder was injured on the job while he was a police officer in Brighton. He and his wife, Jana, came up with the idea to honor disabled first responders by getting them free state parks passes as well as hunting and fishing licenses.
“This is something other people have talked about and wanted, especially in time for the fall when the weather cools down and you can spend time outside,” Bill said.
Bill has traumatic myelomalacia, which is severe spinal cord damage, as a result of several high-speed crashes that happened on the job, none of which were his fault.
The Holders worked to get the bill through the state legislature earlier this year, and it was signed by Gov. Jared Polis in May. It went into effect Aug. 2.
Bill went to get his pass Monday morning, but was turned away by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“I was told they don’t have the proper paperwork to fill out. And they don’t have the set-up in their computer system to accomplish that,” he said.
“To take something so simple, yet so meaningful, and take it and make it more of a fight is just devastating and heartbreaking to me. When you’re a police officer, you get new laws every year and you have to study those laws before they take place. The day they take effect as a law is the day you have to enforce them as a law. This is a law. A lot of people worked to get it passed,” Jana said.
Jana spent much of Monday on the phone trying to get answers.
“To hear it’s not available for our disabled first responders, when it should be because it is law, it is devastating. So I made some phone calls, I get the run around and transferred from here to there, been on hold all morning. To get the run around, it’s just more stress and with everything we’ve been through, we don’t need additional stress,” she said.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers stepped in and made a few phone calls, including to Lauren Truitt, CPW’s assistant director for information and education.
“We are here to serve the public. When it was brought to our attention, it was something we will honor and make right. Our agency has first responders in it, we are committed to this process. We understand the impact these people make in our community,” Truitt said.
She said with approval from the director, they will be issuing no-charge Columbine passes that are already in place for people with disabilities to those who qualify under the new law. This will allow CPW’s commission to come up with the necessary tracking system required by the state and federal governments.
Therefore, qualified disabled first responders should be able to get their passes as early as Tuesday morning.