Nov 17, 2021 - News

Aurora police have a lot on their plate, including rising crime

Aurora police chief Vanessa Wilson during Monday’s news briefing after a drive-by shooting near Aurora Central High School. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post via Getty Images

The Aurora Police Department is doubling down on its pledge to improve policing after Elijah McClain's death from the hands of law enforcement in 2019 — but promises may be hard to keep when internal strife and crippling crime waves keep getting in the way.

Driving the news: The Colorado Attorney General's Office and heads of Aurora's police and fire departments announced Tuesday they agreed to an overhaul as part of a consent decree mandating changes around public safety practices.

  • The five-year agreement comes in the wake of a state investigation that determined the police department routinely exerted excessive force and showed a pattern of racial bias.

Details: The requirements outlined in the consent decree include improving use-of-force training to prevent "unnecessarily escalating encounters" with civilians and diversifying the police and fire workforces to "better reflect the city's diversity," Attorney General Phil Weiser said at a briefing.

  • Aurora's elected officials are now required to hire an independent monitor to keep tabs on the police and fire departments' progress toward achieving the agreed-upon conditions.

Yes, but: The police are preoccupied amid a crime spike and a high-profile mass shooting this week.

What they’re saying: "I need you to believe in this agency," Wilson told community members Tuesday. "We’re not going to shy away from reform."

The bottom line: Aurora Police remain in the spotlight more than two years after McClain’s death, and questions about whether the city’s officers can rebuild community trust while keeping people safe remain unanswered.


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