Aurora lawmakers pushing to ban police from using military equipment

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Three Aurora lawmakers are pushing for the Aurora Police Department to cease the use of military equipment and chemical weapons such as tear gas and pepper balls.

Councilmembers Alison Coombs, Juan Marcano and Crystal Murillo released a joint statement regarding the issue.

“The chemical weapons portion is something that pre-dated the Elijah McClain vigil. But what happened there kind of built a fire under me to get this through, especially when I saw a video of a 15-year-old girl, who was complying with orders to back up and back up, but managed to get hit,” Marcano said.

“They have a larger cone of impact basically, and can in a non-targeted fashion, impact people who are not meant to be sprayed.”

The second proposal would bar APD from receiving any more military-grade weapons from the 1033 program, which transfers excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies, typically for only the cost of shipping.

“So that’s like armored personnel carriers, mine-resistant vehicles, M4A1 rifles and other high-caliber weaponry—including grenade launchers. Things that I think are excessive, strange, and troubling for a civilian law enforcement agency to have,” Marcano said.

Data from the Defense Logistics Agency’s website shows APD received a mine-resistant vehicle, worth $412,000, back in 2013.

The police department also obtained a little over 150 5.56 and 7.62 millimeter rifles.

“I do not want to comment on a proposed ordinance before it is introduced, however I do believe an educated discussion with council needs to occur about how these non-lethal tools protect the community as a whole and prevent the escalation of violent encounters,” Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson said.

The efforts are set to be introduced at the city’s Public Safety, Courts and Civil Service committee on Sept. 10.

This story was updated with Aurora Police Chief Wilson’s statement on Aug. 30.

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