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Colorado Police Reform Bill Passes, Now Heads To Governor's Desk

DENVER (CBS4) - A bill to improve police accountability in Colorado just passed its final reading in the state Senate. It now heads to Gov. Jared Polis' desk to be signed.

In part, SB20-217 bans the use of chokeholds and bars police from aiming tear gas or rubber bullets at protesters' heads, pelvises or backs.

Police officers can be sued for misconduct by getting rid of the qualified immunity defense that generally protects government workers from lawsuits. They are all also required to be equipped with body cameras by July 1, 2023.

Video from the cameras is to be released to the public 21 days following a misconduct complaint.

"This bill marks an important time in history and an important step forward in ensuring our law enforcement community acts with integrity and accountability. I am proud to have played a part in this monumental legislation," Sen. Leroy Garcia, a bill sponsor, stated on social media Saturday.

The bill passed 32-2, with Republican Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg and Ray Scott dissenting. However, it drew support from the Fraternal Order of Police, Sheriff's Association and Chiefs of Police.

Gov. Jared Polis, who says he will sign the bill, praised the bill sponsors in a statement.

Republican House leader Patrick Neville said the bill isn't perfect, but it has more good than bad.

"I'm going to vote 'yes,' but I'm going to do it for the right reason, I'm going to vote yes because I believe it's the right thing to do, not because I'm afraid of the protests or demonstrations, but because I think this is sound policy."

The passage comes weeks following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd died after a police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Floyd's death sparked a public outcry, protests and marches in support of police accountability and Black Lives Matter all across the country.

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