Colorado’s lenient police discipline system allows rogue officers to jump from department to department despite committing offenses that would bar them from law enforcement jobs in many states, reports the Denver Post. Michael Jimenez quit the Denver police force in 2008 after he allegedly had sex with a prostitute he picked up in his squad car. That did not stop the Custer County Sheriff’s Office from hiring him in 2009. He lost that job in less than a year. Still, his certificate to work as a police officer remained active. In Colorado, a police officer can be fired or resign for egregious violations of moral turpitude, such as destruction of evidence, lying under oath or excessive use of force. As long as there is no conviction, the officer is free to seek employment at another agency. Small towns, eager to find officers willing to work for low pay, sometimes will hire them despite their past.
The extent of the problem is unknown. The Colorado attorney general’s office refused to release a state database that tracks the employment history of officers and would provide only limited information on hundreds of officers the newspaper submitted for review. The database contains information on about 9,000 law enforcement officers actively working at agencies and an additional 6,000 who are certified but are not employed in law enforcement. Colorado is one of only a handful of states to have such a high threshold for bringing an end to a career in policing.” Roger Goldman, an expert on officer misconduct who has helped write laws establishing state police review panels, said Colorado’s lenient rules allow unfit officers to continue doing harm. “A lot of people think, ‘Well, we have a decertification system in place, and we’ve done what we need do,’ and that’s very misleading,” he said. “You have to have a vigorous statewide agency that can protect people because there are these small, underfunded police agencies that are willing to hire these cops who are not fit to be on the streets. If you can just decertify for criminal convictions, that’s worthless. You need to broaden it.”