A bipartisan attempt to make it difficult for law enforcement candidates who have committed felonies to find police work in Colorado has overcome a major obstacle.
House Bill 1262 requires police agencies to perform a thorough background check on all prospective hires by requesting personnel records and internal affairs reports from other police departments, which will be obliged to hand them over.
The bodies in charge of certifying police in Colorado would gain access to the data as well and use it to grant certification required for a law enforcement officer.
The proposal also cracks down on a lenient police discipline loophole that has permitted law enforcement officers with past misdemeanors to find work in Colorado.
In Colorado, a police officer can be fired for violation of moral turpitude under the current law, but as long as there is no conviction of felony, the officer is free to seek employment elsewhere. Small towns, who are on the lookout for cops willing to work for lower wages, hire them despite their past records.
Michael Jimenez resigned from the Denver police force in 2008 after being charged with having sex with a prostitute in his squad car. He was hired by the Custer County Sheriff’s Office a few months later and lost that job too. But committing misdemeanors at least twice in the past did not stop the Fowler Police Department from hiring him. He lost that job due to driving while impaired but his police certification remained active.
It was only when he pleaded guilty to vehicular assault while driving under influence that the state thought to revoke his license.
Upon investigation, it was found out that some officers still remained in the police department despite committing serious transgressions.
Some of these problems officers go on to commit serious crimes.
A case in point is of the shooting of Lacquan McDonald by Chicago Police Department officer Jason Van Dyke, who despite having committed multiple felonies in the past, retained his certification, before being charged with first-degree murder.
If the bill is signed into law, the Peace Officer Standards And Training Board, which provides certification to law enforcement officers, would have the power to deny certification for deferred judgments and prosecutions.
The proposed amendments would bring Colorado closer to the standards in Texas and Florida, which deem deferred felony judgments as a disqualification for police work.