In a meeting with law enforcement officials from Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert “was inquisitive to know what challenges law enforcement is facing in the Four Corners,” said Durango Police Chief Bob Brammer.
Boebert, R-Colo., met with sheriffs from Archuleta, Dolores and Montezuma counties, and the Cortez, Durango and tribal police chiefs on April 8. At the meeting, law enforcement officials discussed some of the biggest issues facing their departments and what support they would like to see from the federal level.
They spoke about police reform bills and the possibility of more federal grant opportunities for local law enforcement, Brammer said.
Brammer said the Durango Police Department had a “slight” reduction in funding from the city level. The department received grant funding, but it was not as much as it had been in previous years, he said.
“We even were denied some grant funding this year through DOLA, the Department of Local Affairs, which would have enhanced our ability to do exactly what our communities are asking us for,” Brammer said.
The funding they were seeking included money for a new vehicle for a co-response program, which pairs police officers with crisis clinicians to more effectively respond to emergencies that involve helping people in crisis scenarios.
The grant funding that many police departments are now looking for is to assist with reimagined policing concepts. Those include funding for “officer resiliency, officer mental health” as well as “co-responder teams to help law enforcement get more mental health practitioners out into the field to deal with crises that may not necessarily be law-enforcement related,” Brammer said.
Such ideas about policing have emerged with movements to defund the police. Brammer said initiatives to defund local police departments take away money from training and essential services.
“With the defund the police movement, there’s been a lot of conversation of taking money away from law enforcement, police agencies,” Brammer said. “Then the question is – and I think this is what our communities don’t necessarily understand – if we take the services away and the expectations that police will handle certain types of calls, then who will handle these types of calls?”
While the debate about police reform and potentially defunding the police has entered the national conversation around social reform, Brammer said he hopes government representatives continue to listen to and work alongside leaders of law enforcement agencies while they write legislation.
“I would hope that our elected officials would listen to the people that are closest to the problems,” Brammer said. “That’s going to be your chiefs and sheriffs and your marshals.”
Brammer said the best way to deal with policing reform will be from police departments listening to their communities and representatives working with law enforcement leaders “in a cooperative and collaborative way,” that will make “long-term lasting change that’s not emotionally driven; it’s factually driven.”
Grace George is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.