Denver’s One ‘Red Flag’ Incident Tells How City Removed Guns


The situation culminated when the family agreed to remove Richard from the locked mental health facility where he was temporarily forced to stay.

As part of the deal, Richard allowed the brothers to sell their guns. However, he went back on his word and filed a felony theft charge with the police.

When Denver police officers opened an investigation, the brothers played a recording of Richard agreeing to give up his gun.

Officers realized that the theft allegations were nonsensical. But instead of simply dropping the case, the officers decided to take action.

Police removed the gun and ammunition from John’s house and began the red light process.

A patchwork of implementations

Colorado law firms vary greatly in their approach to red flag laws. Dozens of Counties Actively Oppose the Law Or they have strict restrictions on when they can be used.

Colorado Republicans and others claim it violates due process. This is because a judge can issue a two-week interim order before being informed that a person is the subject of a petition. You can limit your Second Amendment rights.

In El Paso County, law enforcement officers derided the law as ‘unconstitutional’ And they said only use it where their agent found a possible cause of the crimethe sheriff’s office there has never filed a red flag petition.

Other agencies have embraced the law, but have done little to encourage its use.

For example, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office added 13 pages to its policy manual explaining ERPO. But officials rarely encounter red flag cases, so they don’t train agents to specialize in using the law, spokesperson Jackie Kelly said.

“I am very relieved that our agents are aware of the ERPO. I know because they have to read the policy. Hmm,” she said, adding, “It’s rarely used.”

JCSO serves approximately 200,000 unincorporated population in the county. Kelly said the agency has used the law on his two occasions. The agency’s approach is not uncommon, with Westminster, Fort He Collins and Thornton agencies as well documenting ERPO training procedures, although he has made CPR policies in response to record requests to the news. It says that it has not changed.

In contrast, some agencies deliberately make ERPO the focus of their officers. In Denver, the local government convened the local police, district attorney’s office, and court officials to determine how the law was applied.

Various approaches were considered, according to Montoya, including allowing patrol officers to “take the initiative” in the ERPO. But they decided on a centralized approach instead.

All executives are trained on ERPO basics through videos and training bulletins, Montoya said. However, much of the work in “red flag” cases has been delegated to a team of experts who can investigate the case and work with the city’s attorney’s office throughout the civil trial process.

“It takes time and we have a short window to really investigate these things,” said Montoya. “It’s not just a matter of typing affidavits. It’s all the background work that goes into this.”

The team now includes two sergeants, four detectives and a lieutenant, with red flag cases accounting for about half of the workload, Montoya said. This centralized approach is also characteristic of other cities that have adopted ERPO, says Frattaroli.

The Denver court has also appointed one judge, Elizabeth Reece, to hear virtually all Denver ERPO cases. Reese says that in more than 80% of her police-filed cases, she has granted a one-year red flag order, but authorities in other areas have struggled to convince judges that a person is a threat. Sometimes there are.

The City of Lakewood took a similar approach to Denver, assigning a team of officers with mental health expertise to handle ERPO cases. They seized 33 guns in response to his 13 court orders, according to Lieutenant Colonel John Alesh.

“We understand the importance of this tool, and we understand that due process is there to ensure that the rights of our communities are protected,” said Commander John Alesh.

The Lakewood Police Department has filed the second-highest number of ERPO petitions in the state.

how it ends

The intervention of the Denver police made the situation much easier for the Ballware brothers.

Tad said it was “a complete relief.” “The whole operation couldn’t have been handled better.”

Detective Travis Lloyd has completed a detailed six-page affidavit summarizing the complex story that has already unfolded. Judge Reese quickly granted a two-week gun removal order.

City attorneys then filed a lawsuit seeking a full one-year ban, including asking a judge to release medical records. A lawyer and his guardian were assigned to represent Richard’s interests.

Richard’s attorneys spent 73 hours on the case and were paid more than $6,000 by the court, court records show. Expert witness and psychologist John Dicke said the court paid him more than $2,000.

Meanwhile, Tad, John, and the rest of the family worked to make Richard’s home safer and better looking. Soon after, both sides convened for public hearings.

“Everybody had a chance to speak,” said Tad, who attended by phone.

He hadn’t given much thought to red flags before, but the experience convinced him of their benefits.

“We have the right to protect ourselves and our families, and you can’t take it away,” he said. etc., and it’s time to get them to protect yourself from harm to him and others.”

20230306-ERPO-BOULWAREHart Van Denberg/CPR News
John Boulware’s Antique Shop on February 6, 2023. A Republican, he says Boulware is a firm believer in Second Amendment gun rights, but believes there is room for carefully crafted and executed “red flag” legislation. .

ERPOs are Politically polarized issue since its introduction in Colorado, it’s not everywhere. Former President Donald Trump defended legislation, like you have Former Vice President Mike Pence. Florida and Indiana, both red states, are leaders in its use.

Fellow conservative John Ballware agrees with the law’s value. “I support Second Amendment rights, but I think there is a limit … it calls for people without guns,” he said.

On December 9, Judge Reese issued a one-year gun removal order, allowing police to keep Richard’s gun. He returned home, but remained isolated, unwilling to see his brothers and friends. This order remained in effect until the end of his life two months later.

Richard Stark Ballware passed away in February 2022. His obituary commemorates many early chapters of his life, including his time as an aerial reconnaissance photographer for the U.S. Navy and as Deputy Director of Aviation at Stapleton International Airport.

Longtime Denver citizens may remember one of his most ambitious projects at the airport. A series of large light boxes displaying images of the state of Colorado from above. Tad and John will remember the difficult end of Richard’s life, but they will also remember who he always was: his brother.

“He will always be my dear brother,” Tad said.

Check out Colorado Public Radio’s “Red Flags” series.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content