DENVER – Boulder officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation agreed to a memorandum of understanding last month that will assign one Boulder police officer to the FBI’s Denver Joint Terrorism Task Force, which the city council voted to allow in February.
The JTTF operating out of the Denver Field Office consists of FBI agents, other federal law enforcement agents, and some local law enforcement officers, including from the Denver Police Department.
The JTTF based in Denver is one of around 200 across the country, according to the FBI, and they are charged with investigating domestic terrorism and making arrests.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Boulder Police Department and FBI, signed May 16, says the agreement allows the two agencies to “maximize cooperation and to create a cohesive unit capable of addressing the most complex terrorism investigations.”
The Boulder City Council voted 6-3 in early February to allow the police department to join the task force at the urging of Police Chief Maris Herold, who said having an officer on the task force would facilitate better coordination between the department and federal agents on major crimes like the Boulder King Soopers shooting or the February arrest of a man who is accused of making threats to the University of California Los Angeles, as the Boulder Daily Camera reported.
The officer assigned to the task force will have to be able to obtain and keep a security clearance and will receive extra training for the position. They will have had to have passed every FBI polygraph they have ever taken.
The MOU contains some language specific to the Boulder PD made after some pushback from the community and city council about the two coming to an agreement.
The main MOU says the department will have to provide personnel to the task force for at least two years, but the addendum specific to this agreement says that Herold “retains the right to terminate the officer’s participation in the JTTF at will.” The BPD and FBI will have to “make every effort to comply” with the notice of termination requirement in the main part of the MOU, however.
Another sticking point when the agreement was being discussed would be under whose rules and policies the officer would operate when working with the task force, as Colorado law and Boulder police policy contain some extra requirements surrounding body cameras and qualified immunity than federal agents operate under.
The addendum says the Boulder officer assigned to the task force, while acting as part of the task force “is required to follow BPD policies and procedures relating to administrative matters to include officer misconduct and discipline; body worn cameras; BPD’s Values and Rules; as well as the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney General, and FBI policies as outlined by the MOU.”
It goes on to say that if those are in conflict, the officer should follow the federal policies “when working on FBI matters” or should not participate in the matter to not violate those federal policies.
The FBI will also have a provide an update to the Boulder City Council once a year under the agreement.
The Denver-based JTTF was directed to investigate potential federal law violations during the May and June 2020 social justice protests following the death of George Floyd. The ACLU of Colorado in 2010 released documents it said showed the JTTF here was targeting nonviolent activists for harassment and not focusing solely on terrorism or related crimes.
The same JTTF was involved in investigating and tracking Najibullah Zazi, who was living in Aurora, as he and others linked to al Qaeda planned a series of suicide bombings in New York City. He pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2010 and served more than nine years in prison prior to his release in 2019.
The FBI and Boulder Police Department are expected to further discuss the agreement in an interview on Friday.
Denver7's CB Cotton contributed to this report.