AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The Aurora Police Department has parted ways with Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly announced Wednesday morning.
While there was speculation that Wilson would resign, Aurora City Councilwoman Alison Coombs said that was not the case.
“In general, she has done what was asked of her by city council and city management, so she has no reason to resign from her position,” Coombs said.
Coombs said the Aurora City Council put pressure on the city manager to fire Wilson.
“There are councilmembers who have been engaged in a concerted campaign to get rid of the chief because they don’t support the reforms necessary in our department and they are working with groups of officers who don’t support reforms necessary in the department. And to be clear, that’s not all of the officers, but there are groups of officers that are working with these city councils to undermine that work that the chief has done to reform our department,” Coombs said on FOX31 Morning News less than an hour after Wilson was fired.
Officers have been speaking out against reforms in the department and even quitting over them. Aurora Police Department exit surveys suggest morale for many departing officers was poor, with several pointing the finger at city council members, the city manager and Wilson.
“Part of it is that Chief Wilson has fired officers who were engaged in misconduct and that’s one of the reforms that is expected and one of the reforms that has been pursued at the state level. The other is the duty to intervene when other officers are involved in misconduct. Also, diversity, equity and inclusion training that the chief has implemented and that council and the consent decree required,” Coombs said.
Since Wilson took over in January of 2020, 25% of the budgeted 744 officers and 166 professional staff have left and retirements tripled compared to the year before she took over.
As for what comes next, Coombs said she honestly doesn’t know.
“This has all happened very quickly and without much consultation with council. My hope is that we can ensure that folks who are committed to the reforms are running this department but my concern is that’s exactly the opposite of the intent of the folks who have carried out this campaign,” Coombs said.
APD Division Chief Chris Juul will oversee operations at the department temporarily. A nationwide search for the next chief will begin immediately.