Police-related bills introduced in Colo. legislature

The bills are designed to increase public confidence in police


Associated Press

DENVER — A Colorado House committee unanimously passed a bill Thursday that would require police agencies to videotape interrogations of suspects in certain felony cases as a way to prevent false confessions.

The bill is one of five being introduced in the Democrat-led House that lawmakers said are designed to increase public confidence in police. The others:

—Would ban police use of chokeholds, except in circumstances threatening the safety of police or bystanders;

—Expunge arrest records in cases that don't result in conviction, so those wrongly arrested aren't tarnished when applying for jobs;

—Ban police profiling based on race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and other factors. Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, said too many black and Hispanic drivers still are being pulled over without cause by police;

—Allow police agencies, when making hiring decisions, to seek normally-confidential personnel records from other departments. That bill is designed to prevent the hiring of officers who engaged in misconduct in previous jobs.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 11-0 to move the videotaping legislation to the House Appropriations Committee. Sponsored by Reps. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, and Lori Saine, R-Dacono, it would require videotaping of interrogations of suspects in murder or sexual assault cases as a way to prevent false confessions.

"Wrongful convictions are a threat to public safety," Saine said.

Testifying was Chris Ochoa, who said that as an 18-year-old he confessed under pressure to murder in Austin, Texas in 1988 and spent 13 years in prison before being exonerated and freed in 2001. Ochoa said a recording of interrogations — he described his own as "brutal, brutal" — would help avoid the prospect of similar cases in Colorado.

Legislators last year passed several laws in response to cases of alleged misconduct and excessive force by law enforcement nationally and in the state. One created a grant program to increase the use of body cameras.

The Legislature failed to pass profiling and chokehold limits bills in 2015.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press

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