A New Way: Our Plan to Restore Trust


A New Way: Our Plan for Restoring Trust

The city of Aurora and the Aurora Police Department are undertaking a plan of action to restore the community’s trust through a new way of policing. The plan builds on the direction and foundation set by actions of the Aurora Mayor and City Council and the Public Safety, Courts and Civil Service Policy Committee.

The Aurora Police Department, its leadership, city management and elected officials are committed to not only a more diverse public safety team that is reflective of the people of Aurora, but also a more racially equitable, bias-free and culturally competent agency that is responsive to the residents it serves. APD leadership has already taken a number of decisive steps to make changes. Those actions, combined with the components of this plan, will help us move toward effective and community-oriented policing for the entire community.

Our commitment to community-focused policing should be reflected in the command structure of the department and in changes that deepen the department’s relationship with the community and ensure the community’s voice is heard and represented.

Restoring the trust of the community is rightfully the number one priority of the Aurora Police Department; it must provide responsive and respectful service to all the residents of Aurora. The continued pursuit of a safe community for all requires the cooperative and engaged involvement of residents, and we must work tirelessly to ensure a thoughtful approach from our many professional and dedicated officers, and from our community.

Below are the main points of the "A New Way" plan. Click on any of the headers to see the details of each point.

A New Way of OPERATING


 

City Manager Jim Twombly and Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson are undertaking a comprehensive review of the Aurora Police Department in partnership with 21CP Solutions, a global firm of national experts in the areas of civil rights and public safety.

The scope of this review will include: evaluating the department’s leadership structure; elevating the role of community policing and engagement; assessing current policies and practices with respect to use of force, discriminatory policing and bias-free policing practices; reviewing processes to address officer misconduct and accountability; analyzing the practice of stops, searches and arrests; strengthening recruitment, hiring and retention practices; evaluating the department’s interaction with vulnerable populations; and examining crisis intervention procedures for and interactions with individuals experiencing behavioral health challenges.

Every aspect of this review will inform and influence changes that are made.

A New Way of LEADERSHIP


 

Our commitment to community-focused and community-oriented policing should be reflected in the command structure of the department. That focus is already a key philosophy of Police Chief Wilson and her executive team, but there is more we must do to achieve the cultural transformation and reform needed to better serve the community. This includes:

  • Refocusing the department’s mission and vision with an emphasis on integrity, accountability and respect for all.
  • Building a more diverse Executive Team.
  • Elevating Community Relations to highest level of the organization by adding a civilian member to the Chief’s Executive Team.
  • Adding a professional Communications Manager to increase communication with the public, media, city leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Creating professional development opportunities and pathways for promotion of underrepresented members of department through an internal mentoring program, pairing officers with department and community leaders, incentivizing new roles and expanding experiences and more.

A New Way of SERVICE


 

We must make changes in how we prepare and train our officers, from the entry-level recruit to those with years of experience.

  • Panels of residents will share with recruits and officers their interactions with the Aurora Police Department, both positive and negative, and their fears and hopes. This will be a permanent component of all our academies and all-officer training.
  • Scenario-based, realistic training will be provided to hone cultural competency and emotional intelligence skills. This will allow officers to develop an on-the-spot ability to assess the situation and modify their response as appropriate. The purpose of the training is to enhance the ability of our officers to assess when circumstances require a potentially high-risk response or a lower risk response.
  • Implicit and unconscious bias and cultural competency training will be required of all Aurora Police Department employees, whether sworn or civilian, and will begin this year and be a continuing part of training in future years.
  • Regular scenario briefings and tabletop exercises to not only to review things that could have been handled differently but also to reinforce actions that were model examples of good policing.
  • Crisis Intervention Training expansion.
  • Mental/Behavioral Health Awareness Training in order to know how to recognize and appropriately respond to a mental or behavioral health situations or crisis.

These changes are in addition to the departmental policy changes made earlier this year and to the changes the Police Department is making to comply with in new state law on police department procedures.

A New Level of ACCOUNTABILITY


 

  • Growing the role of outside voices in APD reviews and decisions:
    • Addition of external representative/community member to participate in the department’s Force Review Boards in the evaluation of whether critical incident responses were conducted according to current policy.
    • Revise the Independent Review Board to include evaluation of the composition of the board, members’ responsibilities, and the IRB’s scope of work.
    • Community member involvement in decisions such as the Chief’s Review Board, key RFP/contracts selections, public-facing policy changes
      • Four community members from the chief’s Community Policing Advisory Team are serving on the selection committee for the department’s new body-worn camera system.
  • Adding a Police Auditor to increase the range and frequency of reviews of APD’s compliance with policies and procedures. The position may also be involved in business process improvements and may participate in select performance audits.
  • Learning from and adopting the recommendations of ongoing and completed reviews:
    • Evaluations, Investigations and Audits
      • 21CP – Comprehensive Evaluation of APD.
      • External Investigation of the Elijah McClain Case—this team-based review is being led by Jonathan Smith, who is executive director of the Washington Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and includes Roberto Villasenor expert on Use of Force and Dr. Melissa Costello Medical Expert.
      • City Body-Worn Camera Audit completed in Sept. 2020.
      • Attorney General’s Independent Investigation on Elijah McClain case.
      • Attorney General’s Patterns and Practices Investigation.
  • Increased Transparency:
    • Release of Internal Affairs Investigation Reports and other disciplinary actions as allowed by state employment and privacy laws.
    • New regulations and directives incorporated into policies and procedures
      • Timely release of body worn cam video
      • Collection of demographic data
  • Multiple critical directives have already been changed following a re-examination of the department’s use of force policies.

A New Way of ENGAGEMENT


 

  • Including diverse and critical voices:
    • Community Police Task Force is tasked with reviewing current police operations and procedures and making recommendations about community engagement and potential community input on critical incidents, such as civilian oversight. The task force includes leaders and advocates from the community of faith, NAACP, criminal justice reform organizations, educators and Aurora Key Community Response Team, as well as other individuals from the community.
    • Commitment to a have a department that reflects the community it serves. APD will employ best practices to attract, hire and retain underrepresented communities so that we more closely mirror the demographics of Aurora.
    • Our recruiting, hiring and retention work is crucial to accomplishing this and we will be looking at changes that emphasize the qualities and characteristics of potential officers, not just in the pursuit of a certain number of hires. This may involve changes to our charter mandate of two officers per 1,000 residents, and the Civil Service Commission’s role in selection process, hiring and disciplinary appeals of police officers.
  • Provide opportunities and possible pathways for Explorers to pursue a future career in Law Enforcement.
  • Mentoring with community members
  • Police Chief Wilson has established additional ways to personally connect with groups and members of the community:

In addition to this plan, there are a number of other important steps being taken across the city including: establishing the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in January 2020; building the Equity Champions group; conducting citywide Implicit Bias and Cultural Competency Training; establishing a Police Auditor Position in APD; reevaluating the Civil Service Commission’s role in selection of public safety personnel and disciplinary appeals; and, separating Public Safety Communications/Dispatch from the Aurora Police Department.

If you would like to provide specific feedback on this plan to the city, please fill out our online feedback form.

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