AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – Police leadership in Aurora is under fire over a backlog of criminal cases that have not been sent to prosecuting attorneys.
The preliminary findings of an independent audit were released as sources said Chief Vanessa Wilson is being forced out as Aurora’s top cop. The chief’s defenders are referring to the effort as a smear campaign.
This independent report was commissioned by Aurora’s city manager, Jim Twombly. Sources told FOX31 that he is being pressured by members of the city council to push Wilson out.
The report, authored by the police consulting firm PRI Management Group, found that 2,512 police reports were pending processing in the police department’s record division as of March 11. The consultants said there should be fewer than 50 waiting in the system at any given time.
As of Tuesday, Aurora said the backlog was down to 1,252 reports. Twombly called the backlog alarming and unacceptable. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, who has previously been at odds with Wilson, blamed police leadership for what he called a “catastrophic failure.”
“The fact is these issues have been going on for a long time,” said Paula Greisen, Wilson’s attorney.
Greisen said Wilson has been working to systematically change the department while also tackling the backlog issue that she inherited.
“I think it’s an attempt to lay the problem at Chief Wilson’s feet, and that’s a false narrative,” Greisen said. “It’s city leadership that has not allocated the necessary resources and funding.”
The report calls the backlog a “high-liability matter” and states there is a lack of urgency at the police department to solve this issue. Some of the backlogged cases include child abuse and murder, according to the findings.
In response, District Attorneys Brian Mason and John Kellner, of the 17th and 18th Judicial Districts, issued the following joint statement:
“We have read the P.R.I. report regarding Aurora Police Records Staffing and, suffice to say, we are alarmed. Our first concern is to ensure that the public – and specifically victims of crime – are protected. Failures in processing police reports of new crimes or processing reports in ongoing investigations must be remedied immediately to both protect the public and the integrity of existing cases. Once that is done, we urge city leaders to determine how these failures occurred and ensure that they do not happen again.”
According to the report, organizational structure and work schedules are the primary causes of the backlogs. The report also said all available resources should be assigned right away to solve this issue.
Twombly listed actions he feels are necessary to solve the issue:
- A police lieutenant with prior records management experience to begin overseeing the records section, a change that is consistent with a recommendation made in the consultant’s report.
- All remote work in the records section to transition to in-person work.
- APD management to authorize overtime for records staff and supervisors.
- The records section to be temporarily closed to the public on Wednesdays in order to focus on transcriptions.
- Officers currently assigned to light duty will be trained on the transcription process and temporarily assigned to the records section to assist.
- Sergeants will be trained on quality control measures to fix reports prior to submission to the records section.
- APD will implement new, automated features within the records management system to reduce errors and increase efficiency in the transcription process.
- Increase the number of records technicians while simultaneously adding a supervisor.
- Human Resources to conduct a compensation study to attract and retain records staff.
- An additional open records coordinator to be added to process C.C.J.R.A. requests.
- The records section has prioritized and expedited significant cases that require immediate investigative assignment or jail follow-up.