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Jeffco law officers take priorities to Capitol

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By AJ Vicens

On a chilly January morning, law enforcement officers from around the state gathered at the state Capitol and urged lawmakers — who face a half-billion-dollar budget shortfall — not to leave their legislative priorities out in the cold.

"I'm very aware that we have issues this year in our economy and our budget," Jeffco District Attorney Scott Storey said Jan. 15 on the west steps of the Capitol. "I also know there's a direct correlation between a poor economy and the crime rate."

Storey listed law enforcement’s legislative agenda in 2009, which includes revising a DNA collection law that's not even a year old, adding resources to cold-case investigations, reducing recidivism, and adding more training for smaller police agencies.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers talked about the need to pare down House Bill 1397, which would establish guidelines for collecting and preserving DNA evidence.

"Law enforcement in Colorado has used DNA as a very effective tool for over 20 years," Suthers said. "The bill that came out was a little different than some of the recommendations. It has the effect of creating an overwhelming burden on Colorado taxpayers. DNA can be collected from virtually anything, and not every item in every case needs to be collected and preserved. We simply do not have the resources to do that."

Jeffco Sheriff Ted Mink discussed the need for more strict ID theft laws.

"We are proposing new legislation that would expand our ID theft to create a class 4 felony for anyone who presents false government-issued ID to law enforcement officers," Mink said. He also said that penalties for having more than two stolen credit cards should be upped to a class 5 felony, and that ID theft should be added to the state's racketeering statute.

"It helps investigators and prosecutors more effectively and efficiently investigate and indict participants in organized ID theft rings," Mink said.

After the presentation, Storey said he, other district attorneys and police leaders from across the state don't want law enforcement issues to be overlooked with all the focus going to the economy and jobs.

"One of the legislature's priorities has to be jobs," Storey said. "But also public safety. I'd certainly hate to see public safety take a back seat to those issues. People want to be safe. They want jobs, they want transportation, but they want to be safe."

He added that the agenda takes into account the state's budget woes.

"We have to also be a part of the solution as far as recognizing that our legislative agenda can't be excessive, and I think what we've talked about exemplifies that."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.