Denver Police Department officers respond to an incident in the Speer neighborhood on May 11, 2022. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)
A new state law provides $10.3 million for grants to help local police departments address high-crime areas.
The Safer Streets Grant Program is being established through Senate Bill 22-1, which Gov. Jared Polis signed into law Thursday. It was a key priority for Polis and Democratic legislative leaders, but drew little support from Republicans. Sponsors of SB-1 included four Democrats: Sens. Janet Buckner of Aurora and Nick Hinrichsen of Pueblo, along with Reps. Naquetta Ricks of Aurora and Kerry Tipper of Lakewood.
Once police departments identify areas in their communities where “crime is more prevalent,” they can apply for grant funding through the state’s Department of Public Safety. The law provides the option for police departments to partner with local community-based nonprofits on a grant proposal. Eligible uses of the grant funding include adding better lighting, improving trash collection, controlling access to the area, providing security reinforcements and better managing spaces. The department can help agencies develop their grant proposals.
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The money cannot be used to hire new law enforcement officers or install facial recognition software. A separate bill led this session by Sens. Chris Hansen of Denver and Buckner, along with Reps. Tipper and Jennifer Bacon of Denver, all Democrats, aimed to restrict law enforcement’s use of facial recognition.
SB-1 also prohibits the use of grant funding to implement ShotSpotter-style technology used to detect gunshots. Despite questions about the effectiveness of gunshot detection technology, some local law enforcement agencies — including the Denver Police Department — currently have contracts with ShotSpotter or similar companies.
Grant applications must detail how the proposal would prevent displacing unhoused people and harming communities of color and vulnerable populations.
In the state House, all Republicans present for the final vote on SB-1 were opposed, while all Democrats were in favor of the bill. Six Senate Republicans joined Democrats to vote “yes” on SB-1: Sens. John Cooke of Greeley, Don Coram of Montrose, Bob Gardner and Larry Liston of Colorado Springs, Kevin Priola of Henderson and Bob Rankin of Carbondale.
Other bills the governor signed Thursday include:
- House Bill 22-1003, providing grant funding for projects that reduce crime among young people
- House Bill 22-1243, funding school security improvements and extending a youth mental health program
- House Bill 22-1120, funding school security improvements to prevent violence
- Senate Bill 22-18, expanding the court text reminder program
- House Bill 22-1234, providing grant funding to prevent acts of identity-based violence fueled by hate
- Senate Bill 22-96, supporting programs that redirect people with mental health and substance use needs to services outside the criminal justice system
- Senate Bill 22-183, expanding resources for victims of domestic violence and other crimes
“Today we are delivering real results to make Colorado communities safer,” Polis said in a written statement Thursday. “Every Coloradan has the right to a safe community, and today, we are one step closer to my goal of making Colorado one of the ten safest states in the country in the next five years.”
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