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Wednesday, March 17, 2021
In: Police

Chiefs and Sheriff Oppose Jail De-Population Bill

                Adams County Sheriff's Office     https://scontent-den4-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-1/p720x720/55847300_1239374822906682_7627076797674291200_n.jpg?_nc_cat=108&ccb=1-3&_nc_sid=dbb9e7&_nc_ohc=qJOh3fE5NpcAX9iM08G&_nc_ht=scontent-den4-1.xx&tp=6&oh=130df705f5dc4a191b3cf6116ed739af&oe=6070AEFE          No photo description available.            May be an image of one or more people and text that says 'Now Hiring Estamos Contratando Community Service Supervisor Officer COMMERCGE POLICE CITY Agente Supervisor de Servicio Comunitario EST. CO 1952 A DEPARTMENT Commerce CITY c3gov.com/jobs'       May be an image of text that says 'POLICE OFFICER EST. 1940 ADO 父 FEDERAL HEIGHTS POLICE 911'         https://scontent-den4-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-1/15977047_1455007907872985_6435925945916708305_n.jpg?_nc_cat=110&ccb=1-3&_nc_sid=dbb9e7&_nc_ohc=cPCpMWG2AaIAX94xHyQ&_nc_ht=scontent-den4-1.xx&oh=1c6b9798cde5ca5bfd5e8e67fd53d457&oe=60706F66          May be an image of text that says 'POLICE OFFICER OF STATE ATEOF X COLORADO श 小 THORNTON 1876 POLICE'        

An open letter to the residents of the cities of Brighton, Broomfield, Commerce City, Federal Heights, Northglenn, Thornton, Westminster and all unincorporated areas of Adams County:

As Chiefs of Police in the 17th Judicial District and elected Sheriff, we have had the opportunity to view the proposed jail de-population bill (Senate Bill 21-062) currently under consideration in the state legislative session. As we are part of our communities, our passion is about a collaborative partnership to ensure every consideration is examined which could significantly impact the safety of our citizens. This bill was constructed in coordination with state legislators and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and not with local Police Chiefs. It was drafted, introduced and modified multiple times before local Police Chiefs were given an opportunity to share our professional insight and considerations.

In the current form, the Chiefs and Sheriff of the 17th Judicial District have deep concerns and strongly oppose this legislation because of the significant negative ramifications this will have on our communities, crime rates, and victimization. The current judicial process allows law enforcement the ability to jail individuals who have perpetrated crimes in our jurisdictions and routinely victimize additional people while awaiting the criminal justice process. In addition, existing constitutional rights protect the victim and the offender with bond processes which utilize multiple factors as decided by a judge after an offender is jailed. Assurances of a fair and appropriate process are maintained through a judge’s review.

This legislation eliminates that judicial review process and mandates an arrestee’s release immediately, prior to judicial review or bond setting, for every crime except the most serious felony offenses – class 1, 2, and 3. In addition, should a defendant fail to appear in court, a warrant with a bond for failing to appear may only be set by a judge if a victim has been issued a subpoena or an officer is present for that case. Otherwise, a judge may not issue a warrant with a bond attached. The COVID 19 jail restrictions implemented over the past year which frees all suspects of significant felony offenses (class 4 or lower) and all misdemeanor offenses on a summons without judicial review is being offered as a permanent solution through this legislation. Examples of crimes mandated to be released are auto theft, residential and business burglaries, Possession of a Weapon by a previous offender, arson and all misdemeanor offenses including violent offenses like assault.

In many cases, we can demonstrate jailing an individual suspected of committing such crimes disrupts continued patterns of repeat criminal behavior. Ongoing COVID jail restrictions which are now being proposed as permanent in this legislation prohibit our ability to disrupt this ongoing criminal behavior by mandating immediate release of offenders without holding an offender for jail, judicial review and bond setting.

All of our agencies can speak to specific cases where this proposed legislation would have significant negative impacts on crime victims and our communities. Current COVID jail restrictions sought to be made permanent with this legislation have manifested into an overwhelming increase in motor vehicle theft, business and residential burglaries, previous offenders possessing firearms and many other crimes in every one of our jurisdictions. Examples often include individuals repeating multiple felony crimes within days of being arrested and not jailed because of current jail restrictions. Many of these offenders already have numerous additional warrants for their arrest for prior criminal behavior (including failure to appear warrants) and lengthy criminal histories. Jail restrictions currently in place and proposed as permanent with this legislation, prohibit the jailing of these individuals.

This bill focuses on freeing the individual committing the crime without judicial review and does not consider the tremendous impact it will have on our communities. We are alarmed about the long term damage that will result from this legislation.

As leaders of these law enforcement agencies we base our opposition first and foremost on behalf of those already victimized and secondly for potential additional victims. We encourage all citizens to research this legislation to understand the personal and community impact. Many of our citizens have shared their concern with local law enforcement, we encourage them also to convey these thoughts with their elected state officials. Legislation of this magnitude and impact must include everyone having the ability to voice their perspective.

As the Chief’s and Sheriff for the 17th Judicial District, we have deep concerns with this legislation and strongly oppose it because of the ramifications to our communities as well as crime victims. The current judicial process allows for officers to place suspects in jail when accused of crimes and to be held for bonds in the appropriate circumstances. These temporary incarcerations are supported with documentation which is reviewed by a judge shortly after the incarceration to support holding the suspects or releasing them on bond after judicial review.

Holding offenders accountable immediately and ensuring they cannot continue committing crimes interrupts criminal behavior. This legislation would remove the ability to interrupt that behavior. This legislation would allow offenders who commit common crimes in our neighborhoods like auto theft, burglary, theft from vehicles, weapons offenses, arson and violent misdemeanor offenses to be released after arrest and booking without behavioral conditions being established for their release by a judge after being jailed. We find that tremendously concerning and is not in the best interest of our communities.


We stand together with the Colorado Association of Chief’s of Police (CACP) in opposing this bill and our opposition is solely based on supporting victims and potential victims in our communities. We encourage all citizens to research this legislation and contact your local representative to voice your thoughts.


 

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