Sheriff: 'Red flag bill' could have saved slain deputy’s life

"This shouldn't be made political. I think this bill will save lives across the board,” Sheriff Tony Spurlock said


By PoliceOne Staff

DENVER — A Colorado sheriff said a “Red Flag Bill” being discussed by state lawmakers could have saved the life of a deputy who was killed in an ambush.

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said he believes Deputy Zackari Parrish may still be alive if the state had a “Red Flag Bill,” Denver7 reported. Parrish was killed in an ambush after entering an apartment on Dec. 31, 2017.

This undated photo provided by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office shows Sheriff's Deputy Zackari Parrish. (Douglas County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This undated photo provided by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office shows Sheriff's Deputy Zackari Parrish. (Douglas County Sheriff's Office via AP)

"I think everyone should have guns. If you want them you can have them," Spurlock said. "Except for two groups of people. If you're a criminal out committing crimes, I don't think you should have guns. But also if you're in a mental health crisis, we should be able to both protect you from yourself and the community."

Authorities said they knew the man who killed Parrish was in crisis and possessed several firearms before the shooting. Spurlock said the man would not have been able to use the 11 weapons that were in his home under the law because “they would have all been secured.”

The “Red Flag Bill” hasn’t been officially introduced at the Colorado Capitol but discussions have been ongoing, according to Denver7. The bill would give family members of law enforcement a legal tool to raise a “red flag” if someone was going through a mental health crises and presented a danger to themselves or others.

Family and authorities can then get an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” to remove weapons and ammunition from the person’s home.

Many opponents of the bill are concerned the bill would violate their constitutional rights, while those who favor it say it will save lives and help prevent suicides.

Spurlock said the bill is common sense and has due process protections. The sheriff added the legislative committee for the County Sheriffs of Colorado unanimously supported the measure.

"This shouldn't be made political," Spurlock said. "I think this bill will save lives across the board."

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