Colorado Attorney General Investigating Aurora Police Department; City also opens “comprehensive review”
Colorado’s attorney general said Tuesday that his office had conducted a full investigation into the policies and practices of the Aurora Police Department, which also announced on Tuesday that it would be participating in a city-led review of its policing work.
The attorney general’s review is to “investigate patterns and practices by the Aurora Police Department that may deprive individuals of their constitutional rights under state or federal law,” spokesman Lawrence Pacheco said in a statement.
The State Police Accountability Act, passed in June, empowered Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office to conduct such an investigation, separate from the investigation into the death of Elijah McClain.
“In order to maintain the impartiality and integrity of these investigations, the attorney general has no further comments at this time,” said Pacheco.
Minutes prior to the attorney general’s announcement, Aurora’s city manager and police chief announced that the department is conducting a city-led review of its policies and practices with the help of a consultancy that has helped enforce federal consent orders at other troubled police departments becomes.
City Manager Jim Twombly and Police Chief Vanessa Wilson announced the “comprehensive review” on Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Elijah McClain’s family filed a federal lawsuit over his death.
The review “assesses the management structure of the department; Strengthening the role of community police and engagement; Assess current policies and practices related to the use of force, discriminatory policing and unbiased policing; Misconduct and accountability of the officer; stopped, searched and arrested; Recruiting, hiring and retention; Interaction with vulnerable populations; and crisis interventions and interactions with people suffering from health problems, ”said a city press release.
The city has signed a contract with 21CP Solutions, a Chicago-based company that bills itself as a resource for cities that “want to keep public safety working for everyone.” The company’s employees and advisors include former police chiefs, former executive director of President Barack Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force, police union representatives, youth workers and academics.
Federal judges have used 21CP Solutions to oversee the implementation of federal consent ordinances against several law enforcement agencies, including those in Baltimore and Cleveland. Consent ordinances are agreements between law enforcement agencies and the federal government that require the department to make a number of changes, often as a result of an investigation by the federal government into an agency’s policies and practices.
The Aurora review comes after a string of excessive violence lawsuits, months of protests against the department, data demonstrating a disproportionate use of violence against blacks, and international attention to McClain’s death.
“We take this opportunity for change and we are determined to move forward to improve our profession, our community and the residents we serve,” said Wilson. “Law enforcement is being evaluated nationwide and we want to ensure that our entire community believes that APD is an agency that shows dignity, respect and can be a role model for policing in the 21st century. We will strive daily to regain trust in our community. I believe this review, along with actionable policy and training changes, is a good first step. “