Sheriff's podcast discusses enforcement of red flag law

Extreme risk protection orders will follow protocol explained by sheriff


Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock explained how the county will enforce the state's new red flag law in a 45-minute podcast interview released Jan. 6.

First, Spurlock explained why he decided to support the legislation, which allows law enforcement to confiscate someone's firearms if a judge determines he or she is a threat to themselves or others.

“There were a number of cases that really struck our agency hard,” Spurlock said.

The civil order, called an extreme risk protection order, also prevents the person from being able to purchase guns. In reference to this provision, Spurlock pointed to two incidents in Douglas County where mothers shot their children and then killed themselves.

“They didn't own guns, they went and bought them and within 24 hours, they committed a murder-suicide,” he said. “This will help us prevent that from happening.”

Spurlock also explained how his office will pursue and enforce the orders, emphasizing how much must be done in order for an ERPO to be enforced.

“(There are) a lot of steps before we will take anyone's property away from them,” he said.

Under the policy, a deputy who seeks to file a petition for an ERPO must get permission from their division commander. While deciding if they should file for an order, they will consider how often they've had to visit the individual and how those interactions went, he said.

“It's important to look at the history of the person,” he said. “How many times have there been credible, documented threats not only to their own lives but to others? Those are the things our deputies are looking at, they're looking at patterns.”

If an order is granted, the deputies involved are required to “collect and evaluate enough background information to safely execute it,” according to the six-page policy.

They also will consult the county's crisis-response team, which is made up of deputies who specifically respond to mental health calls, according to the policy.

The sheriff also answered questions about hypothetical scenarios where an angry spouse maliciously attempts to get someone's guns confiscated.

“We get these calls all the time. People make threats because they are in the middle of a divorce or child custody,” he said, “and we investigate those.”

Spurlock pointed out that there is a provision in the law stating that anyone who makes false accusations for an ERPO can be charged.

Finally, Spurlock affirmed himself as a supporter of gun rights.

“I am a Second Amendment guy,” he said. “I'm involved in a number of pro-gun programs.”

The podcast episode is available online at


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