Lack of police accountability tops residents’ grievance list as Aurora looks for new chief

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AURORA, Colo. — The search is on for Aurora’s next police chief during what the department admits is a turbulent time.

Residents gathered for a public feedback meeting Monday night at Aurora City Hall. Most of those who spoke at council chambers said public trust is a big problem that needs to be resolved.

An outside recruiter has been hired to find the next chief. He heard from dozens of residents who were critical of the department. A lack of police accountability topped the list of concerns.

“It’s concerning to me to see the degradation,” said Aurora resident Lori Morell.

Fellow resident Shane Hastings agrees.

“People don’t feel safe in their community,” he said.

Vanessa Wilson, a 24-year veteran of the Aurora Police Department, was named interim chief following former Chief Nick Metz’s decision to leave APD. Wilson admits transparency needs to be a focus to regain public trust.

“I want to put my name in the hat because I know the issues that we’re having in the community,” Wilson said.

High-profile cases of a recent alleged officer DUI and the case of body cameras mysteriously malfunctioning during a fatal use of force case have created skepticism across the city.

“There’s a lot of cover up,” a resident named Kevin said.

Those at council chambers say they want a chief who will promise sweeping reform. They also say this is just the start — promising to be at future feedback sessions and to participate in the search process any way they can.

The city says it hopes to have five or six finalists by May, followed by a another public town hall session before making a final decision.

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