Aug 15, 2022 - News

Denver suburbs losing police chiefs

Illustration of several police cruiser lights, some of them transparent.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Nine police chiefs in departments surrounding Denver have left their posts this past year through retirements, reassignments or firings.

Why it matters: Police chiefs implement and oversee policies and rules for rank-and-file officers, and each one is often the face of their agency.

  • Departments across the country are struggling with staffing shortages, while crime across the country rises to historic levels.

Driving the news: Nine local chiefs have left their jobs since August 2021, the Denver Post reported.

  • They include chiefs in municipalities as large as Aurora, home to nearly 390,000 residents, and as small as Morrison, which has fewer than 500.
  • Many said that increased scrutiny over accountability and use of force after George Floyd's murder in 2020 impacted their profession.

Yes, but: There are other reasons cops said they left.

  • A former chief in Morrison left due to lack of resources, and the longtime chief in Golden said he felt it was simply time to call it quits. Aurora’s top cop was fired.
  • Louisville Police Chief David Hayes, president of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, told the Denver Post that pushback on police tactics was "a wake-up call" for the field.

Between the lines: Former Aurora police chief Vanessa Wilson was fired in April by Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly, who cited her performance among his reasons for the decision.

  • Interim Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told the Denver Post that a chief’s job has been made more difficult by social media, which he said holds a "nearly entirely negative" view of police.

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