Jul 27, 2022 - News

Aurora police struggle to overhaul problems

Illustration of many magnifying glasses examining a police badge

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Aurora's police department needs to improve how it makes changes required by a consent decree entered last year after an investigation revealed prevalent racism and excessive force among officers.

Driving the news: IntegrAssure, the company chosen by the city and the Colorado Attorney General's office to serve as independent monitor, released a 341-page report Monday tracking the police and fire department's progress between Feb. 15 and May 15.

  • So far, the Aurora agencies are in compliance with just one-quarter of the new mandates.

Context: The city's police and fire departments must implement 70 mandates outlined in the consent decree, which was established in the wake of the in-custody death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, in 2019.

  • Aurora Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Faith Goodric​h said in a statement to Axios Denver that interim chief Daniel Oates believes the consent decree "provides the path to restore the agency's reputation."

Details: The report found that Aurora's public safety agencies were in "substantial compliance" with nine of 36 mandates assessed. Another nine were found to be on a "cautionary track," meaning it's uncertain whether the monitor's expectations will be met.

  • The police department needs to improve its documentation of vehicle and pedestrian stops by recording reasons for contact, date, time and location, as required by state law.
  • The monitor found "a significant lack of proper and adequate governance structure," as policies and procedures are often set through informal emails.

Yes, but: City management's hiring of an outside expert, Cassi Chandler, to focus on improving agency recruitment and hiring practices was lauded in the report.

  • Chandler works for IntegrAssure, and her hiring by the city is part of the technical assistance the company is providing, Jeff Schlanger, president and CEO of IntegrAssure, told Axios Denver.

What they're saying: "We are going to hold the city's feet to the fire, but also try to help them become a model of policing and fire rescue," Schlanger told Axios Denver.

  • Schlanger said that police, fire and city management have all been cooperative.

Of note: The report mentions Aurora police chief Vanessa Wilson's firing in April, adding it's "not unusual" to see leadership changes during monitoring.

What's next: IntegrAssure will host a town hall to share details on its report at 6:30pm Aug. 9 , at the Beck Recreation Center, 800 Telluride St. in Aurora.

  • The consent decree lasts five years starting from February, when the monitor began its work — though Colorado attorney general spokesperson Lawrence Pacheco said it could end earlier if the city's agencies implement requirements sooner.

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