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E675262A87A7B699872583C3007C20E8 Hearing Summary




PUBLIC
BILL SUMMARY For HB19-1119

SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
Date Mar 20, 2019      
Location SCR 352



HB19-1119 - Referred to the Committee of the Whole


04:35:51 PM  

Senator Foote explained HB19-1119, concerning public disclosure of a completed peace officer internal investigation file.  He reported that a diverse number of states have adopted similar measures and that this bill is modeled after a Denver Police Department policy.  He noted the importance of accountability and transparency.  Senator Foote stressed that the bill applies only to on-duty incidents and withholds the identity of the victim. 

 

04:54:53 PM  

Senator Foote answered questions from the committee about concerns that the bill will inhibit full candor in investigations due to the fear of it going public.  

04:59:18 PM  

Herb Atchison, Mayor of the city of Westminster, spoke in opposition to the bill. He noted concerns about the disclosure of an officer's name and related safety issues. 

Tim Carlson, Chief of Police in the city of Westminster, testified against the bill.  He expressed concerns about privacy and cooperation and suggested an amendment to remove or redact an officer's name from the investigatory findings. 

Rebecca Klymkowsky, representing the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, spoke in opposition to the bill.  She discussed frivolous complaints and reputational harm.  She also noted recruitment issues and potential problems with a new standard of records review in the bill. 

Committee discussion followed about internal investigations and the different standards employed throughout the state. 

 

05:17:49 PM  

Don Sisson, representing the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), spoke against the bill. He stated the FOP's position that the bill strips an officer's privacy and undercuts fairness. He answered questions from the committee about Denver's standard, the Harris balancing test, and substantiated versus unsubstantiated claims.

05:27:09 PM  

Denise Maes, representing the ACLU, spoke in support of the bill. She addressed some of the concerns raised by the opponents and explained the difficulty of obtaining police records in jurisdictions other than Denver.  

Rebecca Wallace, representing the ACLU, testified in support of the bill. She discussed that going through the court is often the only way to obtain police records.  She discussed the importance of not differentiating between substantiated and unsubstantiated complaints.  She distributed two handouts about record transparency and Colorado case law (Attachments L and M). 

05:39:07 PM  

Margaret Kwoka, representing the University of Denver Law School, testified in favor of the bill. She distributed a study that documented the difficulty of getting police misconduct records (Attachment N).

Jeff Roberts, representing the Colordo Freedom of Information Coalition, testified in support of the measure.  He stated that police records should not be off-limits to the general public. 

05:48:05 PM  

Noelle Phillips, representing the Denver Post, spoke in support of the bill. She explained that Denver is the only agency that consistently releases internal affairs files.  She noted the public good from releasing files. 

Jill Gorschmann, representing the Colorado Press Assocation, testified in support of the bill. She stressed the importance of holding publically funded agencies accountable.  She also discussed the importance of identifying trends and having a consistent standard in place for obtaining police records.

05:56:10 PM  

Patrick Potyondy, representing Colorado Common Cause, spoke in support of the bill.  He discussed transparency and accountability.  He discussed cost factors related to suing for records release. 

Elizabeth Epps, representing the Colorado Freedom Fund, testified in support of the bill. She provided a personal account of being part of an incident and being denied access to files. 

06:03:44 PM  

Shayne Madsen, representing the Independence Institute, spoke in support of the bill.  She distributed an editorial from the Greeley Gazette (Attachment O).

Senator Cooke explained and distributed amendment L. 012, which makes the bill applicable to sustained or substantiated claims only (Attachment P).  Senator Foote disagreed with the proposed amendment. 



06:13:06 PM
Motion Adopt amendment L.012
Moved Cooke
Seconded
Cooke Yes
Gardner Yes
Rodriguez No
Gonzales No
Lee No
YES: 2   NO: 3   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  FAIL
06:13:07 PM  

Senator Foote made closing remarks. 



06:15:44 PM
Motion Refer House Bill 19-1119 to the Committee of the Whole.
Moved Gonzales
Seconded
Cooke No
Gardner No
Rodriguez Yes
Gonzales Yes
Lee Yes
Final YES: 3   NO: 2   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  PASS






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