AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Aurora Interim Police Chief Dan Oates sat down with FOX31 for a wide-ranging interview for the first time since his latest hiring.
Oates served as the city’s top cop before, from 2005 to 2014. He also guided the department through the Aurora theater shooting investigation.
He said his ambitions include bridging a widening trust gap between police and the community, along with bettering department morale.
“They know how good they are at policing. They’re distraught that that is not the impression of this organization now,” Oates said. “It was the impression when I left this organization in 2014.”
New crime numbers show Aurora with 20 homicides so far this year compared to 12 during the same time last year.
During Oates’ last tenure, crime went down 30%. He said that should be our goal and “we should be striving every day.” He said listening to the public is integral to community trust as well.
Police department culture in focus
He returns to the department following the controversial firing of former Chief Vanessa Wilson, hired during the fallout of Elijah McClain’s death. That incident led Colorado’s attorney general to investigate the department, which found a pattern and practice of civil rights issues for years.
FOX31 asked Oates if he takes any responsibility for this culture.
“Well, you know, that is an interesting question because I’m doing one-on-one interviews with all the commanders in the organization, and one of the questions I have on the top of the list is, ‘What did you do over the last couple of years to aid this, or failed to do to aid this organization in avoiding what happened?’ And I own that same question too.”
Oates plans to spend his six-month tenure turning around a tattered department.