Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is expected to sign into law a bill that would give the U.S. Secret Service “limited” police power while operating in the state of Colorado. The bill, SB 13-013, which has already been passed by both the Colorado House and Senate, has sparked a firestorm of controversy because of fears that the proposed power could be used by Secret Service agents, acting on behalf of the Obama administration, to arrest sheriffs in Colorado who refuse to enforce unconstitutional federal gun controls.
Just such a scenario of federal overreach was expressed by Colorado state Representative Lori Saine, who was quoted on March 29 by World Net Daily exclaiming:
This is insane! In theory if a Secret Service agent is in a county where the sheriff has refused to enforce some of the recent unenforceable gun laws, the agent could [ignore the sheriff entirely and] arrest any individual if he believes the law has been broken….
I believe it is intended to be used for setting up a framework so that at some other time they could expand it to possibly include being able to arrest a sheriff who is refusing to enforce unconstitutional laws.
Charley Barnes, at K99.com in Denver, further fanned the controversy within Colorado when he observed on April 1:
By the sounds of it, Colorado is being targeted with an attempt to set up loopholes that will allow the U.S. Secret Service to arrest and remove an elected sheriff for refusing to enforce the law, or anyone [else] breaking the law.
His post went viral, fostering so many phone calls and emails to the Larimer County Sheriff’s office that Sheriff Justin Smith, who does not share Barnes’ view, was forced to respond and “clarify” what, he say, SB 13 is really intended to accomplish. Here is Smith’s response to Barnes:
In the last decade, Colorado 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 [District Attorney] 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.
(signed) — Sheriff Justin Smith
However, when one actually reads the specific language of SB 13, a more ominous picture emerges that undermines Smith’s disclaimer. Taken directly from the language of the law,
The law gives a special agent, uniform[ed] division officer, physical security technician, physical security specialist, or special officer of the United States Secret Service limited peace officer authority while working in Colorado.
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