Police Chiefs, County Sheriffs Oppose Vehicle Impound Initiative

Arvada Man Pushing Second Proposal in Denver, First In Lakewood

An Arvada man’s attempt to get unlicensed drivers off the road is running into opposition from two law enforcement groups who say he’s going about it the wrong way.

Daniel Hayes is spearheading a drive to get vehicle impoundment initiatives on the ballot in Denver and Lakewood.

The initiatives would require police to impound the vehicles of people who are driving without a license or insurance.

“If you’re struck by an unlicensed driver, regardless of why they’re unlicensed, your nightmare begins,” Hayes told 7NEWS. “Then your insurance has to take care of any injuries to you or your passengers. It can be quite costly.”

The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police and the County Sheriffs of Colorado oppose Hayes’ initiatives.

“This proposal creates a situation where you have policing by initiative as opposed to a balance of police authority and discretion,” said Chief Daniel Brennan, vice president of the Police Chiefs’ Association.

“It can create an unsafe situation,” Brennan said, “which could result in an officer spending more time waiting for an impound truck, writing unnecessary reports, inventorying a vehicle and its contents when there are more pressing crime and quality of life issues in our community.”

Brennan said officers should have the discretion to determine whether someone driving without a license is an actual threat to other motorists or pedestrians or whether they simply left their wallet at home.

“There could be a murder or a shooting, who knows what could be going on and they’re wasting their time impounding somebody’s car,” said Jennifer Gue, a motorist who opposes the initiative.

“I think its fine,” said motorist Marcos Gomez. “I think it’s going to work for everybody.”

Hayes was instrumental in the passage of Question 100 in Denver last year. He said he thought the measure would require the impoundment of vehicles driven by unlicensed or uninsured drivers, but because of the way it was written, police are still using their own initiative.

So Hayes went back to the drawing board with a new proposal.

“There’s a command to the chief of police that orders him to enforce this ordinance that was lacking last year,” Hayes said.

Brennan agrees that unlicensed and uninsured motorists are a problem but he said the way to deal with them is to bring all the stakeholders together and craft some workable legislation.

He says taking away an officer’s discretion will cost time and money at a time when local governments are making drastic budget cuts.

Brennan said the police chiefs also worry that dealing with the issue via an initiative will create fear and distrust and may reduce overall public safety.

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