Glenwood Springs City Council sends letter opposing Senate Bill 62 at police chief’s request

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

What does this bill do?

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:


Municipal offenses

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.


Glenwood City Council approves Spanish translation for meetings

Glenwood Springs City Council is working towards having simultaneous Spanish-language translations for its meetings.

In the Feb. 4 Glenwood Springs council meeting, City Manager Debra Figueroa shared the rates of local interpreters and how much it would cost to have City Council meetings translated to Spanish.

The rate from local interpreter Elizabeth Velasco was $65/hour and from Natalia Lupi-Peata it was $130/hour, which would come to about $12,480 per year, or half of that if the council went with Velasco’s service.

The general consensus of the council was that there needs to be a way to welcome mono-lingual Spanish-speakers into conversations about local government and the community, but council members varied in opinion as to what would be the most cost-effective and beneficial way to go about this.

Council member Ingrid Wussow said an important step in this process was to seek out and include input from the Latino community. Wussow said past translated meetings with Police Chief Joseph Deras at the helm showed strong participation from Latino community members, but she thinks there also may be more efficient ways to serve those who only speak Spanish in Glenwood Springs.

“I think for me a priority would be more signage around the community for just our recreational opportunities that they have, like maybe signs could be more bilingual before we do (translations for) meetings that potentially aren’t even being watched,” Wussow said.

Council member Paula Stepp, however, said mono-lingual Spanish speakers face the challenge of even feeling like they are a part of the community due to the lack of translated resources.

In an interview about the meeting, Stepp said she thinks the community is making good progress on adding more Spanish resources, but she thinks the addition of a simultaneous translator for meetings will be a good way to invite the Latino community to the conversation and show them their voices are valued by the council and community.

“But we should be ready for some of those things… like citizen comments at the beginning, you know we’re going to need someone there if someone stands up and speaks in Spanish, we need to know what they’re talking about…or if they’re speaking to a certain issue that we’re talking about at council, we need to hear that voice,” Stepp said.

Council member Tony Hershey said he wants to make the meetings accessible but that the council should consider translations on a request basis only. An example Hershey brought up as an alternative use for translations was some of the Parks and Recreation information for Glenwood Springs. Hershey was in agreement with Stepp in the sense that there needs to be an effort to make Glenwood Springs more welcoming for Spanish speakers.

“Right now, Spanish speakers may feel like these parks and outdoor activities aren’t for them because (information) isn’t in Spanish,” Hershey said.

Hershey also said another way to improve access for Spanish speakers could be to arrange for Spanish classes for city staff and officers. The motion to continue the conversation about cost negotiations for translations of official City Council meetings and special sessions was passed at a 4-2 vote.

However, Hershey said he found it most important to use the money to impact as many people as possible.

“There are ways aside from meeting translations to help (Spanish-speakers) in accessing the things they really need,” Hershey said.