Aurora council chooses 13 for new police task force

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Thirteen people will be appointed to the Aurora Police Community Task Force Monday night. The group will include representatives from schools, police union, faith community and Aurora residents.

They will discuss recommendations for improving police oversight and accountability.

“A lot is on the table with police protocol, procedure, our best way to communicate,” said Aurora’s Mayor Pro-Tem, Nicole Johnston.

Johnston held community meetings after the death of Elijah McClain, which led to the development of the task force.

“I take their recommendations very seriously. I don’t want it to come from myself, I want that to come from our community who has been impacted,” she said.

More than 50 people applied to participate, but only 13 will be approved by council members during a special, virtual meeting.

Johnston said she hopes the group will meet two to three times each month, for 90 minute sessions.

City staff reviewed the applications and suggested candidates like Dr. Thomas Mayes, who would represent the Aurora Key Community Response Team, a group that works to bring city leaders and community members together during times of civil unrest.

“I’m hoping that we’ll have something to put together that will come out of this – that we can get rid of the bad apples and quit saying there is 99.9 percent good,” said Mayes. “We’ve always had discussions. We’ve always had dialogue, but we haven’t had the action. And when we had the action, it wasn’t enough to change anything,” he said.

Mayes, who also frequently sits on the police department’s incident review board to consider punishments handed down to disciplined police officers, said he would like the new task force to focus on recommendations related to de-escalation and police hiring.

“We have failed to recruit people that look like Aurora,” said Mayes. “The people of color are the majority in the city except for in the police department, the fire department and the government itself, so we have to find a way to be more effective in recruiting people of color, immigrants, people who understand the plight or the journey of their culture,” he said.

Lindsay Minter, a community activist and a track coach who said she has had some law enforcement experience, said she would like to focus on making recommendations related to an officer’s duty to report other officers who are overstepping their authority.

“We need to make sure we put some filters in place,” she said, expressing concerns that some police officers might not report their fellow officers for improper use of power if they know they will not remain anonymous.

“You’re not a good cop until you tell on the bad cops,” she said.

Minter said she applied for a role on the task force after becoming close to the families of, Elijah McClain – a black man who died after a 2019 police altercation that involved the carotid hold and being injected with a therapeutic dose of ketamine – and Naeschylus Carter-Vinzant, an unarmed black man who was shot by police in 2015 resulting in a $2.6 million settlement.

“I want less dead African American males and females,” she said.

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