During the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions in Colorado, two bills aimed at increasing accountability and transparency among law enforcement agencies across the state were passed.
SB20-217 Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity: Signed by Governor Polis on 6/19/2020, this bill outlined requirements and deadlines for all local law enforcement agencies, specifically in reference to body worn cameras (BWCs) and data collection requirements. As mandated by the bill, agencies must issue and be utilizing BWCs by 7/1/2023. The data collection components outlined in this bill were applicable to all law enforcement agencies, and focused on interactions between the community and law enforcement, as well as the use of force utilized by officers. The bill stopped short of providing specific data collection points, but laid the ground work for future reporting requirements.
HB21-1250 Measures to Address Law Enforcement Accountability: Signed by Governor Polis on 7/6/2021, this bill implemented changes and provided clarification on the content of SB20-217. Specific to data collection, HB21-1250, mandated law enforcement agencies begin collecting data for all law enforcement contacts, effective 4/1/2022. In addition, the definition of "Contact" was provided in the bill.
Contact means any in-person interaction with an individual, whether or not the person is in a motor vehicle, initiated by a peace officer, whether consensual or nonconsensual, for the purpose of enforcing the law or investigating possible violations of the law
The data reporting requirements of SB20-217 and HB-1250, were then memorialized in Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) 24-31-903: Division of Criminal Justice Report.
On 1/5/2022, the Colorado Department of Criminal Justice (DCJ), released a memo which provided some clarification to the requirements outlined in CRS 24-31-903. The nine-page memo provided specifics in reference to the appropriate responses to the questions and data collection points, and further clarified the meaning of "Contact".
All in-person contacts where the subject is contacted “for the purpose of enforcing the law or investigating possible violations of the law” are reportable. It includes pro-active contacts, contacts as the result of a call for service, or contacts resulting from a dispatch to a location. Regardless of the reason the officer arrives at a scene they are choosing to initiate contact with a subject at some point.
This does not include victims, witnesses, contacts that are not in-person, under-cover investigations, routine interactions in a jail, or citizen-initiated contacts that do not involve an investigation or law enforcement action. If a call for service or dispatch does not involve a contact with a subject for enforcement or investigative purposes it would not need to be reported.
The implication of this clarified definition, was that officers across the State of Colorado, would be responsible for collecting data with almost every member of the public with whom they came in contact with. The memo also listed the 59 data collection points, and an additional 20+ data points for incidents which fall under the FBI definition of reporting use of force incidents.
For those who have read through the legislative bills, it may have become apparent the legislators were both unsure about what data was actually available and had no understanding about the work being done each and every day by members of law enforcement. In addition, the legislator was not willing to provide any resources or funding to help law enforcement agencies be in compliance with these new requirements, as further outlined by the DCJ memo.
There is currently no funding available to assist with RMS revisions. Since this is a state mandate, check with your RMS vendor to see if revisions are included in your contract when these changes are required.
Put plainly, all of these publications have implemented the following mandates:
Each law enforcement agency must implement a technology solution to allow officers to collect required data, as mandated by CRS 24-31-903.
Effective 4/1/2022, every law enforcement officer in the State of Colorado must collect required data for every in-person contact they have with a citizen, if the purpose of that contact is "enforcing the law or investigating possible violations of the law”.
Starting in May 2022, agencies must begin submitting monthly reports to DCJ, documenting all contacts made by their officers. This monthly report will be provided to DCJ using the same submission process agencies currently utilize to submit NIBRS data to CBI.
Identified challenges for law enforcement agencies:
Developing an in-house solution or finding a vendor to create a customized platform for officers to collect data in the field, for agency staff to review this data, and a process for exporting the data in order to provide monthly reporting to DCJ.
Creating and distributing training materials to all officers on what and when data must be collected.
Integrating data collection and reporting so that officers are not required to enter the same data in multiple databases. For example: If an officer utilizes a Taser, there is specific data that must be reported to DCJ as well as data the agency requires for internal reviews of use of force incidents.
DCJ has struggled to provide timely information to all law enforcement agencies and information sharing has been primarily between local agencies. Example: The DCJ memo was not widely distributed to all agencies in Colorado.
If your agency is looking for assistance in centralizing your data collection and developing a customized solution to comply with these requirements, BlueGovTech can help you leverage your current technology solutions, such as Microsoft PowerApps, SharePoint, and PowerAutomate, to meet these requirements and increase data sharing in your agency.