During a record crime wave, Colorado should:
A. Get tough on crime and encourage cops to enforce the law;
B. Pretend nothing is wrong, ignore the crime rate and take no action; or
C. Reduce arrests
Congratulations to those who chose “C.” They stand with Assistant House Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, who wants fewer arrests for low-level crimes. Bacon introduced House Bill 23-1169, which “prohibits a peace officer from arresting a person based solely on the alleged commission of a petty offense…” The law, she claims, would help "people of color."
“Petty” is relative. A bank’s “petty cash” could pay a poor family’s rent and bills for months. “Petty crimes” are not trivial to those who endure them.
“The commission and resulting custodial arrest of low-level offenses, commonly tied to behavioral health, substance use, and homelessness issues, which are often exacerbated by jail, are most effectively addressed by alternate-responder models,” the bill explains
Colorado’s law-enforcement establishment and much of the business community are not buying it.
• “This bill will tie the hands of our state’s law enforcement professionals at a crucial time when crime is increasing...” — Estes Park Police Chief Dave Hayes, president of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police.
• “The success of businesses…is vital to the provision of essential services, a strong sense of community, and the economic vitality of CML’s 270 member municipalities,” — Kevin Bommer, Executive Director of the Colorado Municipal League.
• “Our communities are asking law enforcement to get tougher on crime and to protect the public’s safety… this does just the opposite...” — Eagle County Sheriff James Van Beek, president of the County Sheriffs of Colorado.
• “Colorado retailers… are already experiencing daily challenges with trespassing, product theft, harassment of customers, and illegal drug use in their stores…we are certain that these problems would be exacerbated.” — Christopher Howes, President of the Colorado Retail Council.
• “The authority to arrest to intervene in illegal activity, even those deemed ‘low level’ is critical for law enforcement to keep peace and order” — Sandra Hagen Solin, head of the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance.
• “This legislation says that a person can willfully disregard the stores that people use to provide for their own families,” — Grier Bailey of the Colorado Convenience Store Association.
Leading civic, business and law enforcement organizations list 30 crimes the bill would exempt from arrests, including: prostitution; sexual intercourse and genital exposure in public; arson causing up to $300 in damages; disorderly conduct; check fraud; harassment; trespassing on fenced and unfenced property; and more.
Left-leaning legislators of all backgrounds gratuitously exploit minorities to justify any brand of legislation. In addressing roads, energy, education, health care or crime they are in it to help “people of color.” There are no limits to this key component of identity politics. As an example, consider a new Senate Bill that addresses eating disorders and suggests they affect "people of color" more than whites. It may help pass the bill, but the National Eating Disorders Association reports “similar rates of eating disorders among non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians."
Lady Liberty implores that justice be blind. In a snub to blind justice, HB-1169 protects suspects “of color” more than victims “of color.” It does so while the crime spree hurts “people of color” at higher rates than whites.
The threat of handcuffs and jail prevents a lot of crime — from murder and rape to check fraud and arson. All crime victims, including those “of color,” deserve full enforcement of the law. No one needs another bill to coddle suspects, tie the hands of cops and welcome more crimes. To victims, no crimes feel petty.