Colorado lawmakers recently introduced a bipartisan bill that would distribute $30.5 million in state funding to law enforcement agencies in an effort to combat rising crime.
Senate Bill 22-145, filed in the General Assembly on March 10, would put funding into three new grant programs available to law enforcement agencies, with 20% of the funds set aside for agencies in rural areas.
The bill, authored by Democratic Senator Janet Buckner and Republican Senator John Cooke, is part of the governor’s overarching plan to bolster public safety.
“They don’t want less policing; they want better policing. Look at the crime rate. Look at what’s going on, not just here in Denver, but throughout the state and throughout the country,” Cooke said. “When you govern, you have to govern what’s best for everyone. … We’re going to base good policy on what’s safe and right for our communities.”
Cooke referenced a survey from the Pew Research Center that found more than 85% of Americans want their police department’s funding to either increase or stay the same. Survey respondents also expressed worry over rising crime across the nation. Coloradans have been experiencing the trend.
Data from the Colorado Department of Safety shows that property and violent crime rates have been on the rise in recent years. In 2021, the state recorded more than 24,000 violent crimes and 164,000 property crime offenses.
One of the grant programs created by the bill would provide $15 million to assist law enforcement agencies in gathering data and identifying high-crime areas in their communities. The grant aims to support crime prevention and intervention strategies.
Another grant would allocate $7.5 million for training and workforce retention and recruitment programs. The funds are intended to relieve manpower shortages, and could also be used for programs that increase the diversity of the state’s law enforcement agencies.
Buckner hopes the funding will do more to bolster minority representation in the workforce.
“We want to make our law enforcement workforce look like the communities they serve,” Buckner explained. “It makes you feel safer and understood when you see people who look like you working in your community.”
Another $7.5 million grant would go toward improving the police officer safety training certification process, including more training related to mental health.
In addition, more than $400,000 would be given to the state’s Department of Safety to oversee the implementation of grant funding.
“We wanted to make sure everybody got a piece of the pie, so to speak,” Cooke said.
The bill aligns with Governor Jared Polis’s $113 million package focused on improving public safety throughout the state.