Concerning Measures to Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity, and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation

Below is a summary of the Colorado Senate Bill 20-217. Not all of the Act is effective immediately. Section 4 and portions of section 5 take effect September 1, 2020. The amendments to C.R.S. 24-31-902 take effect July 1, 2023. This summary covers only the portions of the Act that are currently effective.

Senate Bill 20-217 went through significant changes before final passage, so statements and concerns about the bill in earlier forms may no longer be accurate.

Significant changes that are effective immediately:

  1. POST certification must be revoked for an officer found civilly or criminally liable for unlawful use or threatened use of physical force or the failure to intervene in the use of unlawful force. (24-31-904)
  2. When responding to protests or demonstrations, use of less- and non-lethal projectiles or kinetic impact projectiles is limited. (24-31-905)
    1. Cannot be aimed to the head, pelvis, or back.
    2. Cannot be discharged indiscriminately into a crowd.
    3. Chemical agents or irritants cannot be deployed without warning and time to disperse.
  3. New civil action for deprivation of rights (13-21-133)
    1. Anyone using their position as a police officer to deprive someone of their Constitutional rights, or anyone acting as a police officer who fails to stop another officer from depriving someone of their Constitutional rights, is liable for the injuries they cause another. 
    2. Qualified immunity does not apply.
    3. You can be held personally liable up to $25,000 or 5% of the judgment if you did not act in good faith.
  4. Chokeholds are not allowed. Practically, this means do not touch the neck or area surrounding the neck, throat, or windpipe. The definition includes any pressure on a person that makes breathing difficult. This may include pressure on the chest and not just the neck. (18-1-707(2.5))
  5. Deadly physical force can only be used to make an arrest when all other means of apprehension are unreasonable given the circumstances AND:
    1. The arrest is for a felony involving conduct including the use or threatened use of deadly physical force;
    2. The suspect poses an immediate threat to the peace officer or another person;
    3. The force employed does not create a substantial risk of injury to other persons. (18-1-707(3)).
  6. If you see another officer using inappropriate physical force on a member of the public, you have a duty to intervene. Then, you must report the force to your immediate supervisor and file a written report following the statutory requirements. (18-8-802)
    1. Failure to intervene is a class 1 misdemeanor and is POST decertifying.
  7. You have to have a legal basis for making a contact with a person when you are enforcing the law or investigating possible violations of the law. (24-31-309(3.5) You have to report every contact to your employer, and the report has specific requirements including demographics of the person stopped and whether you unholstered your weapon.  
  8. For every stop, you must provide your business card, and that card must include information on how to file a complaint related to the contact. (24-31-309(4)).

View Senate Bill 20-17 at: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb20-217

Download the signed act at: https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/2020a_217_signed.pdf