Green Mountain Falls Marshal Virgil Hodges last month issued a warning about legislation that will add time and cost to every Colorado law enforcement agency.
Hodges, who is retiring in April, warned Mayor Jane Newberry and the city’s board of directors to be aware of the new reporting requirements that come into effect in July 2023.
“Colorado Senate Bill 20-217 passed in 2020 has placed a burden on law enforcement across the state. Reporting on the bill is pretty intense,” Hodges said at the Feb. 15 city council meeting. “Fortunately, I won’t be there to do it, but my successor will.
A summary of the Law Enforcement Integrity Improvement Bill states that a peace officer must wear and activate a body-worn camera when responding to a call for duty or during any interaction with the public initiated by the peace officer while enforcing the law or investigating possible violations. of the law. The law requires that all records of an incident be made public within 21 days of the local law enforcement agency or Colorado State Patrol receiving a misconduct complaint.
Hodges suggested the board consider hiring a full- or part-time employee in the marshal’s office to handle reporting requirements.
Recognizing that calls to the marshal’s office are not numerous, nonetheless, the reporting requirements are state-mandated. “The marshal is still responsible for keeping the city compliant,” he said. “I spoke to the City Manager (Becky Frank) in a memo about some of the things that will come out of this Senate bill that are going to be very costly.”
For example, in January, every officer on the street will be required to wear a body camera. “Body cameras are not a big deal; I’ve worn them before and personally love them,” Hodges said. “They keep more officers out of trouble when they get in trouble.”
The problem for the small town is in the details. “We need to find a mechanism to provide this information in digital format to courts, lawyers, whatever,” he said. “And, if there were to be a case where the city would be sued, we have to keep these things, basically, forever. Because these lawsuits drag on for years and years and years.
Along with the warning, Hodges urged the board to consider how to store information videotaped from body cameras. “We end up having to keep things because of world events that don’t affect Green Mountain Falls,” he said.
As chief cop, Hodges said he tried to provide realistic law enforcement that matched the city. “Thank goodness we haven’t had any of the incidents that have happened nationwide,” he said.
Hodges spoke that evening via conference call with the city. After the warning, the marshal expressed his gratitude to the city for the opportunity to serve.
After 45 years of law enforcement to include service as a military police officer, Hodges said he began his civilian career as a deputy marshal in another small town.
“And I can’t think of a better way to end my career,” he said. “The board has been tremendously supportive of me and my office.”
Hodges recalled his response when asked in his interview why the city should hire him. “Because you need me, or someone like me,” Hodges said. “I hope and pray that I fulfilled that expectation and that promise I made to you five years ago. I’m nervous about retiring, but I’m also excited.
Among the things that excites Hodges, he said, is fishing.
Newberry replied “I was scared and wary about hiring a new marshal, but I knew we needed a marshal and you more than filled what we wanted. You were a shining example of the quality of community policing,” she said. “I can’t say enough how much we appreciate you, your professionalism, and your chance to try your luck in Green Mountain Falls.”