Both in Denver and in the state legislature, police agencies are beginning to see public policy proposals address the high profile issues from 2014.
Let me begin with restating what all of us know. 99% of the men and women who serve as police officers in our communities are courageous, honest and doing their level best to protect all of us.
However, it is the actions of the other 1% that is now helping to create the momentum for new potential policies.
In Denver, the Denver Police Protective Association finds itself in a battle with the city’s Independent Monitor over a potential expansion of the monitor’s powers.
The Denver City Council is considering a proposal that would strengthen the Office of the Independent Monitor. The bill passed a council committee by a unanimous vote and now heads to the full council next week.
The union has argued in a letter to the council that the new proposal would expose too much personal information of officers, including full access to body camera footage.
The monitor has argued that the police union is blocking transparency, and the ACLU agrees.
Meanwhile, the Colorado legislature is pondering a bill that would address the alleged intimidation of witnesses that use cameras to film police making arrests.
State Representative Joe Salazar is sponsoring a bill that would protect citizens and their right to sue police in civil court over being threatened or intimidated while recording video of arrests.
Both proposals, the one in the City Council and the one pending in the State Legislature, may be good or bad ideas. I do not know enough about the details to pass judgment one way or the other.
However, I know enough to know that public opinion is not on the side of the police on either of these issues.
Strengthening the powers of the Office of the Independent Monitor seems like a popular idea that the City Council should find reason to pass fairly easily, notwithstanding the opinion of the Denver Police Protective Association.
A split legislature makes Salazar’s proposal a tougher sell. However, the visuals that will come with the testimony in favor of the bill will do quite a bit to cement public support of the idea. If enough public support is amassed, the spilt legislature can be swayed.
But in the end, neither of these proposals even get this close to passing if we didn’t see the headlines from that 1% that makes the other 99% look poorly in the eyes of the public.
If these policies pass and police find themselves chafing against them in the future, they will know exactly who to blame. Perhaps that is what will lead to the most effective change of all.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning “Colorado Inside Out” on Colorado Public Television.