Jan 26, 2023 - News

Aurora police miss key deadlines in consent decree with the state

Illustration of police lights shown through the shape of a police hat.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Aurora Police Department continues to struggle to make mandatory changes outlined in the city's consent decree with the state's attorney general.

Catch up quick: An agreement on the consent decree was reached in November 2021.

  • It requires the city to make numerous changes, including improving police use-of-force policies and hiring more diverse police officers and firefighters.

Driving the news: The latest report tracking Aurora police's progress in meeting the consent decree mandates shows pivotal deadlines were missed. The report was issued on Jan. 13.

Why it matters: In 2021, the Colorado attorney general's office found evidence that the police department violated state and federal laws through a pattern of racially biased policing and using excessive force.

What they're saying: "I just believe, in my heart of hearts, that we will end up, when we get through this process, a better trained, better supervised, and more successful department," Aurora's interim police chief, Art Acevedo, tells Axios Denver.

  • Acevedo — the third Aurora police chief in less than a year — said he supports the mandate because it's a roadmap to improve the department's procedures and rebuild trust with the public.
  • Referencing IntegrAssure's report, Acevedo said he'd rather miss a deadline and get it right than "cut corners." But he added that the agency needs to be more organized in its approach to adopting mandates.
  • The latest report looks at the department's performance from Aug. 16 to Nov. 15, 2022, before he started last month.

State of play: Jeff Schlanger, CEO of IntegrAssure, tells Axios Denver the police department is making progress but not as fast as the community and consent decree had hoped for.

  • He notes all mandates need to be adopted by February 2024, at which point the company will monitor the department for another three years.
  • If the requirements aren't met after this five-year period, Schlanger said, they will continue monitoring the department until the mandates are adopted.

Of note: The consent decree also includes mandates for Aurora Fire Rescue and the city's Civil Service Commission, which oversees hiring for both agencies.

The latest: Of the 58 mandates in the consent decree, Aurora's agencies were found to be in "substantial compliance" with only 11 of them.

  • The report notes there are concerns about the "apparent reluctance" of Aurora police to look into use of force incidents when policies aren't violated but can be improved.
  • But the police department is on the right track to finalize updated rules regarding use of force.

The other side: "Aurora is a beautiful place, but as long as Aurora police continue to exist, we will have a black eye on our face," local criminal justice activist Candice Bailey tells Axios Denver.


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