“If arresting and jailing people would make us safer, we’d be the safest country in the world,” Lee said during a floor debate on the bill Thursday.
Colorado’s jail population, he notes, has grown 800% over the last 50 years — and half of the arrests are for low-level, non-violent offenses. He says many people sit in jail simply because they’re too poor to pay bond.READ MORE: Mom Fights With Insurance Company To Get Disabled Daughter Wheelchair
Lee says this is why he introduced a bill that would require officers issue tickets — or a summons to appear in court — for all non-violent misdemeanors, except car thefts, over $1,000. It would also require those arrested for class 4, 5 and 6 felonies to be released on their own recognizance — unless they’re a safety or flight risk.
Westminster Deputy Police Chief Todd Reeves says the bill doesn’t consider the victims of those crimes.READ MORE: MSU Denver Offers COVID Vaccine Incentive With Scholarship Drawing
He says, under the bill, police could no longer arrest suspects in crimes like false imprisonment, harassment, and inciting or engaging in a riot. They would get a summons, and couldn’t be jailed until their second failure to appear in court.
Lee says they can always get a warrant. He says the bill is also about social justice. Black people, he says, are being arrested at eight times the rate of whites in Colorado, and too many, he says, are dying in police custody.
Chief Reeves says that’s not why they oppose the bill.MORE NEWS: COVID Vaccine: Denver Moves Focus From Quantity To Localized, Targeted Population
The bill also creates a task force made up of everyone from law enforcement, to crime victims, mental health to racial justice advocates.