Mayor Jonathan Godes reflected on his experience of being the victim of a low-level crime during a discussion on a proposed justice reform legislation during Thursday night’s council meeting.
“I was a victim of crime recently, my van was stolen. It was resolved very quickly, easily,” Godes said.
The city council deliberated whether or not to send a letter of opposition to their state representatives who will be voting on the bill during the 2021 legislative session in Denver.
“We have great law enforcement officers, but I’ve got to say when the (district attorney) called me to say we caught the guy red handed, in my mind it was like grand theft auto. They said let’s just let this guy off, he’s a transient he won’t come back.”
Godes said as the victim in this case, he felt the man who stole his van shouldn’t be let off so easily.
“That said, he was a transient who struggled with mental illness and he did go away,” Godes said.
The man was released from custody on a personal recognizance bond after telling the judge he wouldn’t be able to afford bond.
“I wasn’t happy with that, but that’s why you don’t let victims write the laws on specific thing,” Godes said.
“Was justice served for me? Probably not, but at the end of the day do I want someone with mental illness who has a supportive family back in Kansas City to get support over my lust for revenge?”
Godes suggested that no action be taken by the council.
Glenwood Springs Police Chief Joseph Deras requested the council to send a letter to legislators formally opposing the bill, noting that it would be symbolic at the very least.
Deras said it was also his role to inform the council of pending legislation and changes to law that will have an impact on the local community.
Councilor Charlie Wilman, who also works as an attorney, said the bill would cost municipalities more money.
“It actually costs more money because you can’t issue the bench warrant unit they fail to appear three times, and you have to send a police officer out there to issue the bench warrant,” Wilman said.
“They don’t treat these secondary citations as anything important. As a lawyer, my view is that it interferes in the efficient administration of justice.”
Councilor Tony Hershey said he believes that the bill will pass in some form, regardless of whether letters are sent in opposition of it.
“During COVID, there’s nothing easier than showing up in court. But people still fail to appear, and that just slows down the administrative justice,” Hershey said.
“We don’t know the final form of the bill.”
Deras said people in the community have been assaulted and the person who assaulted them has returned, such was the case when a man was charged with assaulting a business owner downtown, who was arrested then immediately released due to COVID policy changes.
Sean Hurt, 37, was charged with misdemeanor assault which is not considered to be at a level that would classify as a violent crime. Hurt was arrested for harassment and resisting arrest after being involved in another incident involving a business downtown.
“What arrests are typically designed to do is interrupt the cycle of violence or crime pattern,” Deras said. “Really what’s happened here these bills have been designed to favor the defendant and not so much the victim in these crimes.”
Councilor Shelley Kaup echoed Deras’ comments, saying that it appears that the legislation goes too far.
“It’s not the answer that we need or the answer that works for our community,” Kaup said.
Councilors Ingrid Wussow and Paula Stepp said they feel the information they have been provided on the legislation is only the tip of the iceberg and would like to hear more from supporters of the bill about what it would accomplish.
A motion to not send a letter failed 3-4, with Godes, Wussow and Stepp voting aye.
Stepp then reversed her position and said she’d vote yes to send a letter for the sake of public safety.
Council members Kaup, Hershey, Davis and Stepp voted aye.
The motion to send a letter in opposition to District 8 Sen. Bob Rankin and District 57 Rep. Perry Will passed on a 5-2 vote.
The two Republican state legislators represent Garfield County.
A fiscal analysis by the Colorado Legislative Council Staff estimates that the bill would cost the Colorado State Judicial Department $51,107.
“This bill is expected to result in an overall cost savings to local governments; however, costs will both increase and decrease,” the document states.
Cost savings is expected to be seen for county jails, but costs would increase for district attorney offices and county and municipal courts.
“The bill’s potential to create additional hearings will impact district attorney office workload, as well as revenue and costs in the Denver County Court, which is managed and funded by the City and County of Denver, and municipal courts,” the document states.
“Local law enforcement agencies may have additional costs to train officers on the new procedures created by the bill.”
Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prohibits a peace officer from arresting a person based solely on the alleged commission of a traffic offense; petty offense; municipal offense; misdemeanor offense; a class 4, 5, or 6 felony; or a level 3 or 4 drug felony unless:
An arrest in which the suspect is taken into police custody is statutorily required.
The officer is unable to sufficiently verify the individual’s identity absent a custodial arrest.
The person was convicted for a violation of the state law prohibiting driving under the influence.
The offense is a felony or a victims’ rights crime, the offense includes an element of illegal possession or use of firearm, the offense constitutes unlawful sexual behavior, or the offense is a violation a temporary or regular extreme risk protection order, a violation of a credible threat to a school, or a violation of eluding in a vehicle.
The arresting officer records in the arrest documents a reasonable suspicion to conclude the person poses a threat to the safety of another, absent custodial arrest.
The arresting officer records in the arrest documents a reasonable suspicion to conclude the person has indicated a clear unwillingness to cease and desist in criminal behavior, absent custodial arrest.
Prohibits a court from issuing a monetary bond for:
Class 4,5, or 6 felonies
Level 3 or 4 drug felonies
This legislation would not apply to defendants who the court has determined will flee prosecution or threaten the safety of another and no other condition of release can reasonably mitigate the risk.