In Colorado and Mad About Police Brutality? You. Can. Do. Something.
The Police Accountability and Integrity Act (SB20-217) is making its way through the Colorado legislature as we speak. It passed out of committee along party lines last night. (The fact it is still a party issue is disheartening and also, unfortunately, par for the course).
What does SB20-217 do? It brings about much needed reform to our law enforcement culture and our legal structure. It seeks to hold law enforcement accountable for its actions. It protects black men, women, and children. I would write that “in the wake” of “yet another police killing”…but I am tired of repeating that rote language over and over again, every time law enforcement officers get caught killing another black person. So instead, I will say this: after hundreds of years of systemic brutality against people of color, and especially black folks, we are way overdue for a change. And this is the change we need.
Below is a brief summary of the bill:
Mandate body cameras. All officers must have body-worn cameras within a year and record interactions with members of the public. Failure to record creates a rebuttable presumption of officer misconduct.
Public reporting on policing. All law enforcement agencies must track and report data, including demographic information, on uses of force, stops of civilians, searches of civilians and forced entries into homes.
Rein in use of deadly force by officers. Bring Colorado law in line with Supreme Court precedent holding deadly force may only be used by an officer, including people who are fleeing the police, when there is an immediate risk of danger to human life.
Prevent rehiring of bad officers. Officers who are found untruthful, terminated for cause, or are decertified shall be listed in a database to stop the practice of bad apple officers moving from one law enforcement agency to another, where they continue to do predictable harm. Officers adjudged to have used excessive force shall be fired and decertified
Civil rights enforcement by individuals. Victims of police misconduct will be permitted to bring a lawsuit against officers to enforce the Colorado Constitution, and officers will not be allowed to shield themselves with the doctrine of qualified immunity which has served to protect officers from accountability and deny families justice.
The summary does not do the bill justice. It is intelligent and thoughtful, balancing accountability and financial responsibility. Over the course of the next few days I will publish blog posts addressing the various aspects of this bill.
What Can You Do Right Now?
You can do any of the following, right now:
Write an email to your state legislator. (You have my permission to use any part of this post or the subsequent ones on this blog with or without attribution).
Voice support for SB217 on your social media page. (You have my permission to use any part of this post with or without attribution). Tag activists, supporters, lawyers, legislators, and any organization that could lend its voice.
Offer to write a piece in support of any part of the bill that you are most passionate about and I will gladly publish you on this blog.
Email your friends and family and ask them to do the same. Rinse & repeat.