Aurora Outlines “A New Way” Forward

Aurora Outlines “A New Way” Forward in Restoring Community Trust in Police Department
Posted on 10/20/2020
A group of people put their hands together in a sign of unity

Police chief lays out five-point plan to guide change and reform

Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson on Monday, Oct. 19, presented to City Council her and City Manager Jim Twombly's plan of action for restoring trust in the Aurora Police Department, titled “A New Way.”

The plan has five points that specifically address reforms and changes to organization, policies and practices, both in response to recent high-profile incidents that have raised community concern, and to implement the priorities of Chief Wilson, who was named chief in August. The points are: A New Way of Operating, A New Way of Leadership, A New Way of Service, A New Level of Accountability, and A New Way of Engagement.

“We are committed to not only a more diverse police department 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 we serve,” Chief Wilson said. “I have heard the concerns of the community and have already made a number of decisive steps to change the way we operate. Restoring the trust of the community is rightfully the No. 1 priority for me and the Aurora Police Department, and I am confident in the support of our dedicated officers in moving these initiatives forward.”

There remain several ongoing internal and external reviews and investigations into the operations of the Aurora Police Department, including a city-commissioned comprehensive independent review of the department by 21CP Solutions, a global firm of national experts in the areas of civil rights and public safety. Every aspect of this review will inform and influence changes that are made in the Aurora Police Department and be incorporated as part of “A New Way.”

“A New Way builds on the direction and foundation set by the Mayor and City Council and the Public Safety, Courts and Civil Service Policy Committee, and we thank them for their leadership and attention to this crucial role the city plays in serving Aurorans,” City Manager Twombly said. “We recognize there have been problems in the past, areas that will need to change, and the paramount importance of the work ahead of us. 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 officers, and from our community.”

Elements of the “A New Way” plan remain under development and will continue to evolve, but some of the key components include:

A New Way of Operating

  • Comprehensive, external review of the Aurora Police Department by national experts in the areas of civil rights and public safety is underway, which will inform and influence changes in the department, such as practices regarding use of force, and recruiting, hiring and retention

A New Way of Leadership

  • Commitment to community-focused and community-oriented policing
  • Refocused department mission and vision
  • More diverse leadership team
  • Civilian (non-sworn officer) additions to the chief’s leadership circle

A New Way of Service

  • Training will include voices of the community, with panels of residents sharing their fears and hopes and past interactions with police
  • Implicit and unconscious bias and cultural competency training
  • Incident reviews to reinforce good policing and address areas for change

A New Level of Accountability

  • Expanded roles for Force Review Board and Independent Review Board
  • Community voices on Chief’s Review Board and key vendor contracts
  • Learning from and adopting recommendations of ongoing reviews
  • Increased transparency in Internal Affairs reports and body worn camera videos

A New Way of Engagement

  • Community Police Task Force review of potential oversight on critical incidents
  • Changes to Civil Service role in hiring and discipline in pursuit of a department that better mirrors the demographics of our diverse city
  • Increased mentoring opportunities with community leaders

Further information about “A New Way” is available at AuroraGov.org/ANewWay, including an opportunity for residents to provide feedback on the plan. Because the plan will continue to evolve as the results of different reviews and investigations come in, the plan details will be updated on the site to allow the community to see the progress of different plan elements and additions.

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