DENVER (AP) – A package of bills designed to increase law enforcement oversight has run into trouble at the state Capitol.
A GOP Senate committee voted this week to reject a ban on police chokeholds and another bill intended to make it easier to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate some cases of alleged police misconduct.
Two other bills – to protect citizens recording police actions and to expand police profiling restrictions – have narrowly passed the House but face an uphill battle in the Senate.
The stalls are frustrating to Democrats who sponsored some of the oversight bills. The chokehold ban, for example, was amended so police officers could still use the maneuver in self-defense.
“It makes me wonder, are they listening to the community?” said Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, and a sponsor of the chokehold measure. “This is a conversation we’ve had for decades.”
Senate Republicans said many police departments are already revising chokehold procedures and that banning the practice might not be necessary.
“I get nervous at the political tendency to see a problem and say, we’re going to go micro-manage this,” said Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs.
Not all oversight measures are in trouble. Here is a look at bills pending in the Legislature:
Three bills related to police transparency have cleared the Senate and have excellent prospects in the House, where they await votes.
One of the bills (SB185) would require the state to refine demographic information about people arrested. Currently, police agencies report race demographics but not necessarily ethnicity, leaving out Colorado largest ethnic minority, Latinos.
Another bill (SB219) would require prosecutors to make public reports when they decline to press charges in an officer-involved shooting.
The third bill (SB218) aims to make it harder for police officers accused of misconduct to jump departments without the hiring agencies knowing about their disciplinary record. The bill also requires law enforcement agencies to disclose when an officer is accused of lying on a report.
Republicans said from the start of the term that they wouldn’t agree to bills requiring police officers to wear body cameras, citing the expense to rural agencies.
A compromise measure (HB1285) would set up a state grant program to help pay for body cameras for law enforcement agencies that want them.
The bill also requires the state Department of Public Safety to study police-worn cameras and whether their use should be expanded.
The bill has passed the House and awaits a vote in the Senate. It has bipartisan sponsors, so its prospects are strong.
A bill to add civilians to the state Peace Officers Standards and Training Board aims to give the public more influence over how police agencies operate. The bill (HB1287) has passed the House and awaits a vote in the Senate.
Associated Press writer Ivan Moreno contributed to this report.
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