A proposed new law in Colorado could give Secret Service employees local police powers in the that state.
Image: Screen Capture - State of Colorado
SB13-013 has been approved by both the Colorado House and Senate. When Governor Hickenlooper signs the bill, federal officers and those listed above will have "limited peace officer authority while working in Colorado."
This new power has many concerned that Secret Service personnel will be used to arrest or force county sheriffs to enforce the state's new gun laws. The state's elected law enforcement officials have not been big supporters of restrictions on the Second Amendment, and some have publicly stated that they will refuse to enforce unconstitutional laws.
Inside the wording of the law (SB13-013), you can see that considerable discretion is given to the Secret Service employees. Here are the situations that would trigger the USSS employees local police powers.
Image: Screen Capture -- State of Colorado
So, after the bill is signed, a Secret Service employee is allowed to act as local law enforcement if he or she:
- sees a crime committed
- has "probable cause" that a crime has been committed, or is about to be committed
- has been asked to assist local law enforcement
- is part of a joint task force
- "acts in accordance with the rules and regulations of his or her employing agency"
News outlets and bloggers have speculated that this latest move by Colorado's lawmakers is meant to counter statements made by sheriffs in Colorado who are not interested in enforcing the state's new gun laws and those who have spoken out against it. This also follows in the wake of an accusation that the state's Democrats had threatened to economically punish unsupportive sheriffs. Less than a month ago, TheBlaze covered the story about some of Colorado's elected Sheriffs claiming that their pay raises were being tied to support for the state's new gun laws.
After the news of SB13-013 started to go viral and theories began to form about the real reason behind this expansion of authority for federal law enforcement workers like Secret Service workers, one of the elected sheriffs clarified the situation in an email to Charley Barnes at K99 in Denver. In that email, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith answers the question, "Can the Secret Service really arrest a sheriff?"
"In the last decade, CO started to grant limited authority to certain federal law enforcement agencies. The purpose is so that if they witness a citizen being victimized, they can act and turn the case over to a local police officer (because most crimes against our citizens are not federal crimes and they have no other jurisdiction to intervene as federal officers. The law also allows them, in cases where they are investigating a crime that is against both state and federal law, to file the case with our local DA in situations where the damage amount doesn’t meet a threshold where the federal prosecutors will file it in federal court. If you read the bill, you will see the limitations clearly in it. As Sheriffs, we are the beacon against over reach by federal authorities, but in this situation, it is not the case."
Sheriff Smith believes that this law is not overreaching. (We invite you to participate in TheBlaze poll below and express your thoughts on the new law.)
Governor Hickenlooper's Facebook page is seeing many posts that are not pleased with the potential for abuse with this new law.
On Wednesday, as President Obama was preparing to speak about gun control during his visit to Denver, a group of 16 sheriffs staged a protest to offer their opinion of the state's new gun bills and why they were not planning on enforcing it.
The Associated Press covered the event. Sheriff Justin Smith read the statement that ended with a strong assessment of the state's new gun laws; "There is nothing in these bills that would have prevented the violence in Aurora or Newton."
Do you believe the new law would make it easier for Secret Service agents to force Colorado Sheriffs to comply with the new gun restrictions in that state?