Aurora police Deputy Chief Paul O’Keefe withdraws as interim chief, announces retirement

Paul O'Keefe (Photo: Aurora Police Department)

AURORA, Colo. — Aurora Police Department Deputy Chief Paul O’Keefe announced he will not serve as the department’s interim chief. He also said he plans to retire in March 2020.

The announcement comes after APD Agent Nate Meier was not investigated for DUI or fired after he was found drunk in his patrol car while on duty. O’Keefe was the first member of APD at the scene.

O’Keefe was set to become the interim chief of APD after current Chief Nick Metz retires at the end of the year.

In a letter addressed to the city manager, O’Keefe said that “under the current circumstances,” it would be in the best interest of the department for him to withdraw from the position.

“It is my intention that by removing myself from this interim position, that the men and women of the Aurora Police Department will ultimately be able to move beyond the negative depiction currently being broadcast and be recognized for the exceptional professionals that they truly are,” O’Keefe wrote.

Additionally, O’Keefe said he plans to retire on March 31, 2020.

“I am willing to assist the Department in any way I can to transition matters over to the interim chief and command staff, and in support of the search for a new Chief of Police,” O’Keefe wrote.

Following the incident with Meier, O’Keefe stated in a report that when he entered Meier’s patrol car, he smelled what he thought “was the odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage; however, the smell was fleeting and I did not observe any physical evidence of alcohol consumption in the vehicle.”

O’Keefe wrote that he briefly reentered the car before it was removed from the scene and did not smell the odor again.

“Also, my observations of Agt. Meier led me to question if this was in fact alcohol intoxication or some other medical episode, as his physical demeanor was not what I thought was consistent with alcohol intoxication; it appeared more medical in nature,” O’Keefe wrote.

O’Keefe said that he originally requested a traffic officer respond to the hospital to investigate a possible DUI.

“However, based on the lack of information, my own observations, the fact that the car was stopped (ignition on) with no motor vehicle accident or driving observations, and the lack of any additional evidence (no other noted smells, no bloodshot watery eyes, physical impairment inconsistent with my experience with DUI), it was decided that no testing would be completed at that time,” O’Keefe wrote in the report.

It is currently unknown who will serve as interim chief upon Metz’s retirement.

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