Polis, Democrats roll out package of public safety bills to reduce crime

DENVER | Aurora state Sen. Janet Bucker joined Gov. Jared Polis and other legislators Thursday in presenting an ambitious new plan to improve public safety in the state.

The rollout is part of Polis’ commitment to making Colorado one of the 10 safest states in the nation over the next five years, and will devote $113 million to improving public safety over the next two years.

Currently Colorado ranks 23rd safest in the nation for violent crime and 29th for property crime compared to other states, according to the governor’s office.

“That’s not good enough for Colorado,” Polis said at a Thursday news conference on the steps of the Capitol introducing the rollout. “We deserve to be one of the safest places to live and raise a family and this package of bills will help get us there.”

The bills include efforts to improve retention of law enforcement, reduce recidivism and increase behavioral health resources. Polis stressed that the approach will be “data driven” and said that the state plans to create an online dashboard soon that will track crime in Colorado.

Buckner, D-Aurora, is one of the legislators introducing bills that are part of the package. She is currently cosponsoring Senate Bill 1 along with colleagues Naquetta Ricks, Leroy Garcia and Kerry Tipper, which would allow local governments to apply for grant money to make infrastructure upgrades in high-crime areas.

The legislation will create more co-responder programs in Colorado, as well as to devote more resources towards violence interrupter programs and programs deterring at-risk youth from entering the criminal justice system.

She credited Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown and Omar Montgomery, president of the Aurora NAACP, for their input in ensuring “this plan makes communities safer in a way that works for everyone.”

“Rising crime is not an easy topic to address,” she said. “That’s why we have put in the legislative work to ensure these reforms will be fair, equitable and effective.”

State Sen. Chris Kolker (D-Centennial) said that he plans to introduce a bill to invest in school safety, allowing districts to apply for grants to improve safety and mental health investments.

“We know we must do more, and these measures will go a long way towards improving security at school and keeping our kids safe,” he said.

Along with several lawmakers Polis was also joined by community leaders and members of law enforcement, including the sheriffs of Summit and Boulder counties and 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason.

Mason called the package a “historic” investment in community safety and mental health concerns in particular, which he said “disproportionately impacts the criminal justice system.”

The DA for Adams and Broomfield counties estimated that 37% of federal and state prison inmates report a mental health disorder, along with 44% of county jail inmates.

He specifically praised the package’s investment in law enforcement co-response, violence interruption, trauma screening for children and intervention in domestic violence, which he said has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This package will allow us to address mental health problems before people get into the criminal justice system and seek to keep them out of it altogether,” he said.

The proposals earned a chilly reception from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, County Sheriffs of Colorado and the Fraternal Order of Police’s Colorado State Lodge, who declined to endorse the package in an open letter to Polis published Thursday.

“At this time, our organizations do not have an official position of support on your public safety budget package in its entirety due to its failure to advance policy changes alongside ongoing budgetary proposals,” they wrote.

The letter went on to blame increases in certain crimes on recent legislative changes, saying the “inability to arrest and hold offenders results in offenders continuing to commit criminal acts,” and that “confusing and rapidly changing legislative standards on policing have caused officers to question what they can and cannot do to address a threat, protect victims and the community, and protect themselves in violent situations.”

Chris Amsler of the Aurora Police Department said on behalf of Vanessa Wilson that the chief “fully supports” the positions taken in the letter.

When asked whether Wilson thought increasing police department budgets could help drive down shootings specifically, Amsler said more funding would allow the department to attract and retain more officers by offering competitive wages, which would help Aurora address violent crime proactively. More funding could also be used to purchase new technology that would help the city prevent and suppress crime, he said.

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Susan Carr
Susan Carr
4 months ago

You cannot trust anyone who believes killing a baby is a right.

FactsOverFeelings
FactsOverFeelings
4 months ago
Reply to  Susan Carr

You post this on every article that’s even remotely related to politics. It just shows your complete ignorance of facts and lack of education.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
4 months ago
Reply to  Susan Carr

And no one can trust you, other than to be sure you will make a stupid comment.

Rod Bockenfeld, State Representative
Rod Bockenfeld, State Representative
4 months ago
Reply to  Susan Carr

Susan, you must be on point. Liberals will attack you personally when they can’t intelligently counter your point.

FactsOverFeelings
FactsOverFeelings
4 months ago

Her point is completely unrelated to the topic? Her “point” is also an outburst based completely on emotions and not facts.

Gregg Bergan
4 months ago

Interestingly, no mention here of the conspicuous absence of the state’s largest law enforcement groups: the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police and County Sheriffs of Colorado–who earlier today penned a letter decrying “anti‐law enforcement sentiment” pervading policy discussions at the state capitol.

doug
doug
4 months ago
Reply to  Gregg Bergan

Says right in the story: The proposals earned a chilly reception from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, County Sheriffs of Colorado and the Fraternal Order of Police’s Colorado State Lodge, who declined to endorse the package in an open letter to Polis published Thursday.

Rod Bockenfeld, State Representative
Rod Bockenfeld, State Representative
4 months ago
Reply to  doug

The letter went on to blame increases in certain crimes on recent legislative changes, saying the “inability to arrest and hold offenders results in offenders continuing to commit criminal acts,” and that “confusing and rapidly changing legislative standards on policing have caused officers to question what they can and cannot do to address a threat, protect victims and the community, and protect themselves in violent situations.”

Rod Bockenfeld, State Representative
Rod Bockenfeld, State Representative
4 months ago

The Polis Adminstration created the crime problem in Colorado. Look who was not at the press conference. Where was the Colorado Chief of Police Organization? Where was the Colorado Sheriff’s Association? Where was the Fraternal Order of the Police? Where was Colorado Attorney General Phil Wiser? If Arapahoe Sheriff Tyler Brown supports Gov. Polis, why wasn’t he there? They were not there because they know Gov. Polis is the problem and not the solution. Gov., it sounds like the chickens have finally come home to roost.

You need to own it.

Rod Bockenfeld
State Representative
HD # 56

(Eastern Adams & Arapahoe Counties including parts of Aurora)

doug
doug
4 months ago

Republican aren’t you. Nothing but negative from you people and never any solutions.

Rod Bockenfeld, State Representative
Rod Bockenfeld, State Representative
4 months ago
Reply to  doug

Doug, Republicans are sponsoring several bills this session and last session to address what should be are part of the solution. Go to the Colorado General Assembly Website to follow. The Gov. makes numerous political statements that don’t match his actions. He thinks the general public is stupid.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
4 months ago

Yes, the Governor did this all on his own. We had no crime in Colorado before he came along. And, of course, the proliferation of guns and failure of our educational system had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

Last edited 4 months ago by Joe Felice
Rod Bockenfeld, State Representative
Rod Bockenfeld, State Representative
4 months ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Joe, look at the hug a criminal and anti-law enforcement bills the Gov has signed over the past couple years. Can you look at anyone with a strait face and say that his actions have not aggrevated the situation?

Don Black
Don Black
4 months ago

While I laud any effort to help address the mental health treatment facilities, I find the rest ironic. The legislature created the police reform bill in a knee jerk response to the George Floyd death. It is poorly worded to the point that officers don’t know what the use of force guidelines are. The taking away of implied immunity was misguided as implied immunity was never an automatic defense for officers. Implied immunity was established by the courts and is decided on an individual basis. Only about one third of the time is it allowed. With the poor use of force guidelines, officers are being criminally charged by overzealous prosecutors if they simply touch someone’s neck in a struggle. Citizens have always been able to sue police officers. Making it more risky for police officers did not help. This is especially true when officers are given vague use of force guidelines and chiefs who are too politically correct to defend them or to address the huge flaws in the police reform bill. Further, cities have been opened up to civil suits thanks to the popular misconceptions being advanced by the media and our legislators. Cities will not be able to afford police departments that take any action due to the civil liability. The citizens are being told that legitimate police actions are actually abuses. There are also places in the bill that allow abuse of authority by chiefs of police. Again, no protection for officers who can lose their livelihood at the whim of a chief. No due process there. The definition of the chokehold is so poor that it opens officers up to liability for just kneeling or falling on a fighting suspect. I could go on but I realize that is is futile. The law makers will continue to pretend they are helping you while destroying the ability of law enforcement to do the job. Body cams and transparency are good. The exaggerated effort to paint law enforcement as brutal racists ignores the facts. When they say that things will be data driven, I have to laugh. First, an examination of crime statistics will tell you that the horrendous effort to keep black people from being accountable will not help anyone, especially the black community. Secondly, I know from experience that data driven and computerized reporting sound really professional but lead to poor community policing in many cases. Today, when you are a victim of many crimes, you can make an online report. As a former detective supervisor, I can tell you that the information obtained is not as good and reports are often barely scrutinized. We are more efficient now and less effective. We have made it easy for officers to not see the victims and to not pay attention to their woes. I also know that crime analyst information supplied to officers is often ignored and not timely. When you talk to politicians and chiefs, it all sounds great. If you know how things really work, you understand that it is the same political game. They only have to look like they are doing something. There are better ways to do policing and to do community policing that is responsive to crime in your neighborhood. Politicians, citizen activist groups, and chiefs will never find those better ways.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
4 months ago
Reply to  Don Black

And, of course, the officers themselves have no power to clean up their act and to call out fellow officers. It’s all someone else’s fault (George Floyd, the Governor, the Legislature, the Chiefs of Police, politicians, neighborhood activists, etc.). Yes, you could go on. Why stop there? What did you do to effect change?

vern
vern
4 months ago

Wow several respondents have the common sense to see the problem. Lack of respect and a hatred of police. Add the woke law enforcement and prosecutions (a very low percent), and unwillingness to hold people accountable for crimes. Go figure- a potbelly pig is smarter than most politicians- who just want to earn too much for too little effort, ( and take dark money for self serving). Long past a time to hold them accountable for their actions in promoting the crime environment. And then get some balls… criminals are not going to be nice and some people can not operate in a law and order society. Let the DA and judges adopt them and take them home. I think things would begin to change. And YES I think it might be super important to have the Police and Associations tasked with the problem to be at the head of the table… not eating palliative rubbish that “legislators” are putting out.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
4 months ago

Are you paying attention, Zvonek and Jurinsky?