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Colorado Springs police outlines how red flag orders will be carried out

CSPD Lieutenant John Koch says a special task unit will enforce the extreme risk protection orders.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- After Colorado's first known case invoking the red flag law took place Friday in Denver, local law enforcement is discussing how the officials will execute the new law here in El Paso County.

A Denver Probate Court judge approved a hearing after a Denver Police Sergeant filed a temporary extreme risk protection order petition on Jan. 2.

Legislation allowing Extreme Risk Protection Orders took effect in Colorado on January 1, 2020. Family members or law enforcement may petition for an ERPO from a judge if they believe a person poses a significant risk to themselves or others by having a firearm. 

If enough evidence warrants a judge to issue an ERPO, then the subject must surrender all of their firearms and their concealed carry permit to officials. No later than two weeks after the first order, a hearing is held by the judge to see if the ERPO continues.

If there's enough evidence that the subject still poses a significant risk, a judge may issue a continuing ERPO that allows law enforcement to retain the guns for another 364 days. The respondent also can't control, possess purchase or receive a firearm during that period.

We reached out to Lieutenant John Koch with the Colorado Springs Police Department for a better understanding on how they will carry out the new law.

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ZACHARY: What would be sufficient evidence for a police officer to petition an ERPO? 

KOCH: It’s really kind of difficult to just randomly generalize what that would be, but it could be someone that maybe is suffering a mental health crisis and that is in possession of firearms. If they pose a risk to themselves or a family member, that could be a situation where a law enforcement officer would petition. 

Really what we look for is any type of situation where we may respond out on a call for service or are doing an investigation and we come across someone who does pose that risk to themselves or a family member and is in possession of firearms. 

ZACHARY: How would CSPD officers carry out an ERPO? 

KOCH: We’ll base how we do service and how we go about serving this protection order on a lot of different factors; the relative risk to police officers, to people in the homes, to the respondent in the protection order, any histories that we may have, any concerns that pop up. 

This will be something that we assess on a case-by-case basis and determine the best way to serve that order and what resources are needed. But at a base level, the first starting point for us is with our Strategic Investigation Unit personnel. 

We don’t start at “Hey, call the SWAT team.” We always start at the lowest level possible. That’s our goal in everything that we do. To have the most peaceful encounter we can with someone.  

ZACHARY: Almost half of Colorado’s counties have declared themselves 2nd Amendment sanctuaries and several sheriffs have previously said they don’t agree with the law. Is this a political issue for CSPD? 

KOCH: I can’t really talk about politics for CSPD. What I can tell you is that CSPD recognizes that the legislature passed a law and that it’s our job to enforce orders from the court that come our way. We intend to do that. 

ZACHARY: At the end of the day, do you think this new law improve the safety in our community?

KOCH: There’s really no way for me to answer that because I’d be guessing into the future. I do think that it’s a tool for people that are potentially in bad situations to utilize.

We obviously encourage people that look at this law and look at what it allows. That if it’s something they feel could make them safer, to go through the appropriate process and the appropriate steps with the courts to determine if it's what works best for them.

Article Topic Follows: Colorado Springs
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Zachary Aedo

Zach is a reporter for KRDO and Telemundo Surco. Learn more about Zach here.

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