Colorado New Laws to Make Communities Safer

What Public Safety Leaders & Community Advocates Are Saying about New Laws to Make Communities Safer & Ensure Every Coloradan Can Thrive

AURORA, CO (STL.News) Governor Jared Polis  joined bill sponsors and leaders in Aurora, Highlands Ranch, Denver and Lakewood to sign legislation delivering real results to improve public safety and strengthen communities’ prevention efforts, including for young Coloradans and those with behavioral health needs to prevent them from becoming involved in the criminal justice system.

Here’s what behavioral health champions are saying about the new law signed at the Center for African American Health in Denver to improve the Colorado behavioral health crisis system’s ability to serve at-risk community members (SB22-196):

“Senate Bill 22-196 is one of the most impactful of this legislative session.  It puts resources into our communities so that people do not need to become involved in systems outside behavioral healthcare to access services,” said Dr. Morgan Medlock, State Behavioral Health Commissioner.  “This funding will help set up Colorado to have the strongest crisis system nationwide and to best serve people who are involved with, or at risk of becoming involved in, the criminal justice system.”

“The Colorado Catholic Conference fully supports the signing of SB 196 into law.  Unfortunately, too many individuals leave prison only to return because they have not received the help they so desperately need.  SB 196 will help to divert individuals experiencing a behavioral health disorder to the treatment that will best help them experience true healing. This human dignity-affirming bill represents a major step toward addressing the mental health crisis in Colorado,” said Matthew Server, Associate Director of the Colorado Catholic Conference.

Gov. Polis signed laws to benefit local crime victim services programs (SB22-183), provide much-needed support through bolstered behavioral health services for criminal justice advocates (SB22-183), and improve accountability and increase appearance rates in the courtroom (SB22-018). Here’s what leaders are saying:

“PorchLight is incredibly grateful for the hard work and dedication of everyone who made SB22-183 possible to support victims in our community,” said Candace Coolidge, Executive Director at PorchLight, A Family Justice Center.

“Thank you to the legislators, experts, and survivors who supported SB22-183.  This funding will allow programs, that sexual assault survivors desperately need, to keep their doors open and help to address the increased need created by the pandemic.  We also thank Governor Polis for signing this bill into law, ensuring survivors statewide continue to have access to critical services,” said Brie Franklin, Executive Director of Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA).

“Thank you to the bill sponsors and to the three statewide victim coalitions for their work over the past year to make this bill a reality.  Victim services funding is at a critical point for a number of reasons and this bill will help Colorado to maintain most current victim services.  This need will only grow in the coming years so we are appreciative for Governor Polis’ support of victims of crime, funding for victim services and for this important legislation,” said the leadership of the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

“Criminal justice staff are particularly at risk for experiencing traumatic stress.  With today’s bill signing, Colorado will help minimize the impacts of trauma — while empowering staff to do their best work in furtherance of public safety and justice,” said Michael Dougherty, 12th Judicial District Attorney-Boulder.  “It is in the best interest of all Coloradans for criminal justice advocates to make sound decisions, free of traumatic stress.  This bill will improve the health, wellbeing, and performance of those who carry great responsibility in our justice system.”

“With the signing of these bills, Colorado is taking direct action in response to the nationwide increase in crime by investing valuable support in community safety and crime reduction efforts.  These bills recognize that it is not enough to simply react to criminal activity,” said Michael Dougherty, 12th Judicial District Attorney-Boulder.  “There must be efforts to reduce the likelihood that criminal activity, particularly violent crimes, will take place.  I strongly support the Legislature and Governor Polis taking these positive steps to help communities throughout Colorado.”

“With this legislation, the state steps forward to support victims and survivors of crime, as well as the victim advocates who help them navigate the criminal justice system, at a time when funds for these services were set to decrease significantly.  We must prioritize the health and safety of those impacted by crime,” said Alexis King, 1st Judicial District Attorney-Gilpin & JeffCo.