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Gov. Polis Signs Police Reforms Into Law

Protesters chanted "no justice, no peace," "George Floyd" and "Black lives matter" as they marched past the Capitol building on Thursday.
Scott Franz/Capitol Coverage
Protesters chanted "no justice, no peace," "George Floyd" and "Black lives matter" as they marched past the Capitol building on Thursday.

Gov. Jared Polis on Friday signed a set of police reforms into law, saying they were a "long overdue moment of national reflection."

The bipartisan law is Colorado's response to protests sparked by the death of George Floyd and other unarmed Black people who have been killed by law enforcement.

The measure bans chokeholds and adds new transparency requirements that aim to prevent violent interactions with the police.

"Good police work and common-sense police reform go together," Polis said before he signed Senate Bill 217 at the state Capitol. "They are and they must happen simultaneously. It's the only way we're going to restore the broken trust between law enforcement and our communities, particularly communities of color."

Polis timed the bill signing ceremony with Juneteenth, which marks the date in 1865 when U.S. soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to tell the last enslaved Americans they were free.

Polis said law enforcement agencies "need to understand the status quo is unsustainable and reforms are desperately needed to ensure residents are safe, no matter their race or background."

Senate Bill 217 requires all police officers around the state to use body cameras by 2023. It also requires officers to intervene if one of their peers is using inappropriate force.

Several lawmakers of color sponsored the bill, including Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver.

"This bill is not the end all be all. It doesn't change culture," she said. "I can't legislate culture change. I can't legislate hate out of someone's heart. But what we can do is take a big step in the right direction and commit to keep working on these issues."

Copyright 2020 KUNC

Scott Franz is a government watchdog reporter and photographer from Steamboat Springs. He spent the last seven years covering politics and government for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, a daily newspaper in northwest Colorado. His reporting in Steamboat stopped a police station from being built in a city park, saved a historic barn from being destroyed and helped a small town pastor quickly find a kidney donor. His favorite workday in Steamboat was Tuesday, when he could spend many of his mornings skiing untracked powder and his evenings covering city council meetings. Scott received his journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is an outdoorsman who spends at least 20 nights a year in a tent. He spoke his first word, 'outside', as a toddler in Edmonds, Washington. Scott visits the Great Sand Dunes, his favorite Colorado backpacking destination, twice a year. Scott's reporting is part of Capitol Coverage, a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.
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