On March 30, 2021, Representative Leslie Herod introduced House Bill 1250, titled Measures to Address Law Enforcement Accountability. This bill comes as a follow-up to the Police Accountability Act passed last year in response to the killing of George Floyd and the following nationwide protests. Generally speaking, the bill passed last year was a groundbreaking bill that created a state cause of action against law enforcement officers for excessive uses of force, and created reporting requirements to enhance law enforcement transparency. Colorado was the first state in the nation to pass such a bill.
Due to the timing of the bill last year, as well as scheduling issues within the legislature from COVID-19, the bill was passed quickly without much time for amendments. This year’s bill has been introduced as a means of clarifying various aspects of last year’s bill and to shore up some shortcomings of it. This year’s bill includes many small changes, such as adding definitions, and clarifying reporting requirements and timelines for law enforcement agencies. The bill also adds Colorado State Patrol officers as officers who can be sued via civil action. Finally, as a bill that was designed to decrease police brutality, this bill also requires a peace officer to use de-escalation techniques prior to any use of physical force, and such physical force must be objectively reasonable.
Given there is more time for this bill to pass through the general assembly, it will likely receive several amendments prior to passing. The bill is set for its first committee hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on April 21, 2021.