Lacy's Law makes impersonating a law enforcement officer a class 6 felony
as well as a class 1 misdemeanor for the use of blue and/or red flashing lights on the front of a non-authorized vehicle. Both of these can carry jail time as well as a significant fine. The important part of the light law is that if a person is pulled over and those lights are on the car, the lights can be immediately seized. Flashing police lights were the TOOL used to pull Lacy over and trick her into believing she was with a legitimate officer. Prior to this law in Colorado, it was a misdemeanor to impersonate a police officer and it was a 15 dollar traffic fine to have police lights on a car.
Much thanks and a appreciation to Sheriff Jim Alderton and representives
Bob McKluskey and Steve Johnson for the passing of this bill.
PRESS REGARDING LACY'S LAW:
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
OWENS SIGNS POLICE IMPERSONATION BILL
“Lacy’s Law” makes impersonating a police officer a felony and criminalizes the illegal possession or use of red or blue police lights.
(Fort Collins) – Gov. Bill Owens today signed H.B. 1003, stiffening the penalty for impersonating a police officer and criminalizing the use or possession of red and blue lights.
“Those who impersonate law-enforcement officers undermine the public’s trust in the men and women charged with protecting us. Impersonating a police officer is an inexcusable act,” said Owens. “Today, we are stiffening the penalties for violating the public trust in this way, and ensuring that criminals who misuse law-enforcement symbols are stopped before they act.”
The bill was prompted by the 2003 abduction and murder of Lacy Miller, a 20-year-old student at the University of Northern Colorado, by a man impersonating a police officer. The man used flashing red and blue lights to pull Miller over. A 2003 law passed after the murder made police impersonation a class 1 misdemeanor. The law signed today makes impersonating a police officer a class 6 felony, resulting in higher fines and increased jail time for habitual offenders.
Also included in the bill is a ban on the possession and use of red or blue police lights by persons not involved in law enforcement. Illegal possession or use of blue or red lights is a class 1 misdemeanor.
Joining Gov. Owens for the bill signing was Wendy Cohen, the mother of Lacy Miller, Rep. Bob McCluskey, Fort Collins Policy Chief Dennis Harrison, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden, and Major Jim Wolfinbarger of the Colorado State Patrol.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Bob McCluskey (R-Ft. Collins) and Sen. Steve Johnson (R-Ft. Collins).
Stakes higher for police impersonators
Owens' OK means law goes into effect this week
By Sarah Langbein
DENVER — Police impersonators will face harsher penalties starting Thursday.
The penalties were made official Tuesday with Gov. Bill Owens' signing of House Bill 1304. Bills typically don't become law for several months after the legislative session ends; however, House Bill 1304 will go into effect immediately because of the hard work and dedication of local lawmakers and one mother.
The measure was introduced this legislative session after the murder of Fort Collins resident Lacy Miller, 20, who police believe was lured from her vehicle by a police impersonator Jan. 18.
Jason Peder Clausen, 22, on April 3 was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to murdering Miller.
Miller's mother, Wendy Cohen, has since devoted herself to justice for Lacy through tougher police-impostor legislation.
Rep. Bob McCluskey and Sen. Steve Johnson, both Fort Collins Republicans, sponsored the bill and hope it is the first step toward preventing similar crimes.
"If we can stop one event, it's well worth it," McCluskey said.
Under the bill, police impersonation will be a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Posing as a law-enforcement officer was previously a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Fourteen people in the past three years have been convicted of impersonating a peace officer, according to the bill's fiscal note.
"The ability of each law-enforcement officer to protect us depends on trust," Owens said Tuesday. "Today, Colorado takes an important step to restore the trust that every citizen must have in law enforcement."
The issue hit home for Owens because his 19-year-old daughter attends Colorado State University, only miles from where Miller disappeared.
"Like Lacy, she too would have pulled over," he said.
Cohen let out a sigh of relief as Owens announced that the measure would take effect this week.
"Yes," she said under her breath with a glowing smile.
"I don't know how to begin to thank the lawmakers and the governor," Cohen said. "It's hard for me to sleep at night knowing this could happen to other people."
Fort Collins police Det. Marc Neal, who worked on the Miller case, was at the signing and expressed appreciation for the bill.
"All of the officers I know support it," Neal said. "The only way we can do our job effectively is with the public's confidence and trust."
Cohen pledged to continue working with McCluskey and Johnson in next year's session to raise police impersonation to felony status.
That goal was not realistic this year because of budget cuts. The legislators would have been required to provide funds for prison beds based on prosecution estimates.
"I think this is a start of what we will do next year," McCluskey said.
Other issues such as possessing police paraphernalia and look-alike police cars also will be examined, he said.
"I want to make sure Fort Collins is still a safe place," McCluskey said.
Office of the Governor - Press Office