As the title states, I am asking this because even this website constantly has questions like “what would you do if you where at the local gas station and a robber pulled out a gun to rob the store, and you had your concealed weapon on you?”
Both on the website, their Facebook page, YouTube, etc, I have seen those “what if” and “what would you do if…”
I believe (or want to believe) I would step in and help without hesitation, and working in law enforcement (Correctional Officer) it is kind of second nature. But as for arresting/detaining the suspect, I don’t know how that works as the law is written in a confusing way….As I don’t know if an off duty Corrections Officer in Colorado can legally arrest/detain someone who commits a serious crime in their presence. The statue and regulations appear to say “yes” but the Dept itself won’t answer it, as some dumb CO “played cop” a couple of years ago where he even put lights on his car and pulled people over! Dumb. So now they don’t like to talk about the subject, but the statue/regs seem to still say “yes” but they aren’t very clear.
Not talking about a “citizens arrest” (which can get tricky and even backfire on you legally, which SADLY is true) but rather if the Colorado law covers/allows an actual legal arrest/detainment until local police arrive.
NOTE: CO’s in Colorado are Peace Officer’s, with full arrest powers within the scope of their duties/employment, so basically only on State DOC property. ALSO everyone on graduation does swear an Oath. BUT.. the wording on the last section (below) seems to give limited off duty arrest powers.
HERE IS THE ACTUAL WORDING of Colorado law/statue/regs:
“It is the policy of the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) to ensure that DOC employees are properly designated as peace officers, receive appropriate training, and act within the scope of employment and in the performance of their duties as set forth in C.R.S __ and other applicable laws while protecting the constitutional rights of offenders AND CITIZENS. The purpose of this administrative regulation (AR) is to define and address the scope and authority associated with peace officers, and to ensure compliance with the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act – LEOSA”
A. “Scope of Authority and Guidelines for Peace Officers: Peace officers have the authority to enforce ALL the laws of the state of Colorado while acting within the scope of their employment and in the performance of their duties, pursuant to C.R.S. 16—- and other applicable laws. Certified peace officers, pursuant to C.R.S. are community PAROLE officers, criminal investigators, and the inspector general are required to be certified by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board; POST”.
The above makes it clear that Correctional Officer’s aren’t POST certified, while Parole offices/investigators in the Dept are, so it recognizes the difference, but still lumps us together as peace officers. We already known parole officers can make arrests while off duty, so this isn’t talking about parole officers. It simply lumps us all together as Peace Officer’s and goes on to say:
“Peace Officer: Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S..) peace officers shall include CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS; associate wardens; wardens; community parole officers; criminal investigators; the inspector general. A peace officer has, AT A MINIMUM, the authority to enforce ALL laws of the state of Colorado while acting within the scope of his/her authority and in the performance of his/her duties”.
So this one lumps parole offices and correctional officers, and even the IG all under Peace Officers. Performance of duties/employment can be semi-vague but we as CO’s know it means while on duty, or while on prison grounds.
b. “Stop and Question: While acting within the scope of his/her employment and in the performance of his/her duties, peace officers have the authority to stop any person, on or OFF state property, who may be reasonably suspected of having committed, committing, or intending to commit a crime and may…..” – – cut the rest out as this is already a long post.
2. ARREST AND DETAIN: While acting in the scope of his/her employment and in the performance of his/her duties, peace officers have the authority to arrest or cause to be arrested:
a. Any visitor on DOC property, who breaks the peace, has an outstanding arrest warrant, or is found upon said grounds violating any criminal law of this state and turn such person over to the inspector general or local law enforcement.
Section A Is what gives CO’s their authority to do their job in Colorado, and uphold the law/keep the peace, including arresting civilians, but only on DOC property aka while at the Prison. So section A is different from many other State Correction’s – as many States do NOT give any arrest powers to their CO’s, even while on duty. Which is odd, but many states are like that. BUT – having arrest powers PERIOD, even if only on duty – does open the doors to possible limited arrest powers while OFF duty, as covered in the text below. Also it meets one of the requirements for LEOSA act/law: which is having any arrest powers.
b. “Any persons on and OFF state grounds when probably cause that the subject engaged in criminal activity directly connected to the security and safe operations of the DOC”
c. “Any individuals on or OFF state property who is directly observed committing or attempting to commit an offense, whether felony or misdemeanor, in his/her presence. Said authority exists REGARDLESS if on DOC property OR in another jurisdiction in the state of Colorado pursuant to C.R.S”
The last 2, section B and C are the biggest one. It says anyone, even if off State property and even if in another jurisdiction they can be arrested – but only if a serious crime such as a felony was committed in their presence. OR if someone makes a serious criminal threat towards the safety of any DOC prison, it seems to state they can be arrested/detained even off DOC property, in order to ensure the security of DOC. This one is kinda broad as normally “in the name of security” gives quite broad powers, I could see that one being abused to where jokes/something not serious could count, depending on the person.
So obviously this implies OFF Duty, as “OFF DOC property” and “in another jurisdiction” can ONLY mean off duty, it can’t mean anything else.
As any CO knows they on duty while on state property – the prison, and in their jurisdiction – which is also their prison they work at.
Unless I’m missing something, the above text seems to allow an off-duty Corrections Officer (at least in Colorado) aka a CO the legal authority to arrest someone if they witness a major crime, or rather a “misdemeanor or felony in their presence” to be exact.
Such as a USACARRY type example: an off duty CO is inside a gas station when someone comes in to rob it. The off duty CO pulls out his personal firearm and tells the suspect/criminal to put down the gun, and that he’s under arrest or rather Better wording would say being detained. Then off-duty CO calls the local police to come. The off duty CO may put cuffs on them (if any are around, or any type of restraints until local police arrive) and are TEMPORARILY acting as Police to stop an emergency situation, until the Police can arrive. If needed the CO could yell “Police” to the suspect (as in firearms training they said to simply say Police as it’s universal, not yell out your actual title) or simply “Peace Officer, drop the weapon!” or anything along those lines.
There was more text but I left some out, as this is very long post…. But: anyone who actually read that have input, or maybe someone who works as a CO and has the same powers as here in Colorado (or maybe you happen to work in Colorado also) know? Again the Dept just deflects these types of questions. I would like to know so maybe if I learn some new information. As anyone with a CCW obviously likes to be prepared even if the chances of needing their weapon is tiny. Now add working in law enforcement into that, and now only do you want to be prepared but also know legally speaking how it works in the rare chance you stepped in to stop a criminal.