A Colorado inmate filed a “red flag” petition against Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams. Colorado’s red flag law went into effect on January 1, 2020. Since then, there have been two instances of arrested persons attempting to file Extreme Risk Protection Orders against law enforcement. This latest one is even sillier than the first one – but it does reveal the issue with them: the laws are easily abused.
Leo Crispin is in jail in Weld County, Colorado. He attempted to file a Red Flag Order against the Sheriff, saying that because deputies who patrolled the facility carried shotguns, he felt intimidated and his rights were being abused. It was a Colorado inmate attempting to abuse the new red flag law.
The Red Flag law in Colorado says law enforcement, relatives or those in the household can file an ERPO (Extreme Risk Protection Order). The Colorado inmate Crispin checked the box beside “living together” because he says the jail is his household.
The Denver Channel wrote:
Judge James F. Hartman dismissed Crispin’s petition this week, writing that his complaint does not “even warrant a hearing” under the state’s new extreme risk protection order law, which can allow a judge to temporarily remove a person’s guns if they are found to be a danger to themselves or others.
Hartman also noted that the shotguns carried by the jail deputies contain less-than-lethal projectiles.
Crispin had argued that the jail is his household, and that Reams, as sheriff, posed a significant risk of injury to himself or others by having a gun at the jail.
The ability of anyone to say that someone else is a danger to themselves or others, is an abuse of the system. Sheriff Steve Reams of Weld County stands against the Colorado red flag law.
“I would argue the system failed because this inmate was able to exploit the legislation’s loose definition of a ‘household’ to levy the petition in the first place…It was a huge waste of my time, but I think it was an even bigger waste of the court’s time. I can’t imagine that the chief judge had to stop what he was doing because these cases become priority, and stop what he was doing and focus in on something that was pretty much on face value, it was obvious that this wasn’t a valid red flag petition.” Sheriff Reams
When a woman in Fort Collins, Colorado, filed an ERPO against the police officer who shot her son in 2017, the judge also threw out the case. She was ultimately arrested for falsifying a police report. She had marked the petition as “sharing a son” with the police officer. Deliberate abuse of the law.
But what if you aren’t a police officer? If your Mother-in-law has a grudge against you, she can file for an ERPO and have your guns taken from you by police. You don’t get a hearing up front, nor do you get to respond to the seizure until at least 10 days after the fact. You receive no representation or ability to respond whatsoever until later. Her petition isn’t as likely to be thrown out.
If the subject of an ERPO really is a bad guy, just taking their guns won’t stop them from committing more crimes. Arresting them with probable cause would.
Though Sheriff Reams is a good example of standing against these kinds of laws, there are some other Colorado jurisdictions that are enforcing them (News9).
- Denver police use ‘Red Flag’ law immediately after it takes effect
- NM Red Flag Law Signed, Gov Threatens LEOs
- Cartoon of the Day: Seeing Red
- Colorado Red Flag Law, and Sheriff Opposition
- Colorado Red Flag Law: Guilty Until Proven Innocent
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