Thursday, July 16, 2015

UPDATE: City Councilor: I trust the cops

Posted By on Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 10:40 AM

Councilor Larry Bagley got back to us Friday afternoon with comments regarding our report on the Colorado Springs Police Department's use of force. Here are his thoughts:
From what I understand, these cases are possibly in litigation and I am unable to discuss them specifically. I did a ride along on 7 July with an officer from Falcon District. We responded to a couple of calls. Although they were relatively minor incidents, there was a fair amount of stress for the citizens involved. I was impressed by the professionalism and courtesy displayed by our police officers in these calls. I understand my presence had some influence, but overall I trust our police officers. They are very often in harm's way dealing with very volatile situations and persons, and have to make quick decisions under pressure to protect citizens, themselves, and property.

However, we must continue to be vigilant ensuring the rights of all citizens are protected. The use of body cams including the necessary support personnel and equipment, and appropriate procedures, is a possible safeguard not only for citizens but officers also. 
We haven't heard from any other Council members on this topic except for those cited in this blog.

—————————————-ORIGINAL POST 10:40 A.M. THURSDAY, JULY 16, 2015————————————

Wednesday morning, we asked members of the Colorado Springs City Council for a comment in response to our "Full Force" cover story and sidebar that shows a young woman being thrown to the floor by a cop and highlights other use-of-force cases.

Knight: Has a lot of trust in the cops. - KIRK WOUNDY
  • Kirk Woundy
  • Knight: Has a lot of trust in the cops.
We've gotten one response, from Councilor Don Knight, and he, like Mayor John Suthers, is squarely in the cops' corner, though he does say he wants cops to wear body cameras for accountability.

Says Knight via email:
This article focuses on different cases where the city has received notice of claim. Since we are involved in litigation I am not permitted to discuss the cases. I have a lot of trust in our Police Department. In light of the circumstances nationally I am glad I live in a community where there is such a large amount of trust in our officers. This does not mean that we can sit idly but must always look at ways to be on the cutting edge of technology and best practices. I support the police department’s quest for body worn cameras. They are a tool which will help hold both officers and citizens accountable.
City Council is the body that decides whether the city will provide legal representation to cops who are accused of acting badly. Council also is responsible for approving settlements in such cases. 

Yesterday, we reported that Suthers immediately took up for the police when we asked him for a comment about our report. He cited his long affiliation with law enforcement through his involvement with the Colorado Police Officers Standards and Training Committee and as district attorney.

So we know that Suthers will side with law enforcement, because he's said so, and hence, it's highly unlikely he'll be interested in an outside review of the Police Department.

Some might suggest that elected officials are beholding to the cops due to campaign donations, so we took at look at that. For what it's worth, we found the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association gave $6,000 to Suthers' campaign for mayor and gave $1,000 each to Councilors Larry Bagley and Merv Bennett in the last election in April.

In the 2013 election, the cops gave $3,000 each to Jill Gaebler and Keith King.

So if campaign donations do matter, police should be a little worried. Their chosen candidates don't comprise a majority. They did not financially support Don Knight, Andy Pico, Helen Collins, Tom Strand and Bill Murray.

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