A judge has ruled that Colorado’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) board is a criminal justice agency, possibly hampering legal efforts by two news organizations to obtain the state’s database of certified law enforcement officers.
Harris v. Denver Post
A lawsuit filed by The Gazette, reporter Chris Osher and The Invisible Institute, a Chicago-based journalism nonprofit, seeks the public disclosure of Colorado’s database of certified law enforcement officers.
Incidents in Colorado and elsewhere show the limitations of HB 19-1119 as a tool of transparency, accountability and for building trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. More could be done to ensure the public knows when officers are accused of misconduct or of using excessive force, how those allegations are investigated and whether and how discipline is imposed.
An amended bill endorsed by the Colorado House no longer opens records on police internal affairs files, but essentially encourages their disclosure once an investigation is complete.
Aurora has agreed to revise its policies on the disclosure of police internal affairs records as part of a lawsuit settlement, but a new court case alleges the city wrongly withheld body-worn camera footage related to a traffic accident involving Denver Police Chief Robert White.
The Denver Department of Public Safety, which includes the police and sheriff’s departments, should publish written guidelines for releasing video of critical incidents such as the 2015 death of jail inmate Michael Marshall, the city’s police monitor recommended this week.
The city of Aurora’s “blanket policy” of denying open records requests for police internal affairs files, apparently without regard to the facts and circumstances of each request, violates Colorado’s criminal justice records law, a lawsuit alleges.