AURORA – The city of Aurora announced that Division Chief Vanessa Wilson will serve as the interim police chief when the current chief, Nick Metz steps down Tuesday. In a press conference on Monday, the 24 year veteran with the department said she’s prepared to take on the challenges that come with her new role in the department.
“Lets be honest. I’m stepping in at a very turbulent time. I acknowledge the community is angry, trust has been shaken and our relationship has been fractured.” Wilson said.
The department is currently facing pressure after several instances over the past few months. An investigation continues into how the department handled a situation involving an officer who was found drunk and passed out behind the wheel of a police car while he was on-duty. They’ve also experienced several protests after the tragic death of Elijah McClain who died after an altercation with officers. Wilson says she’s aware of the concerns the community has about accountability and notes that she’s willing to work with groups around Aurora to move those relationships into a better direction.
“I promise you today we will work tirelessly to regain that trust,” Wilson said. ” I will state no one is above the law and you expect professionalism from this police department and that is what we are going to deliver.”
Wilson says she is applying to take over as the permanent police chief in the future and she isn’t afraid of the challenges that come with leading one of Colorado’s largest municipal departments.
“I love this community and I love this agency.” Wilson said. “The men and women of this police department face extreme challenges and dangers every day.”
“I`m doing this because they need me, the community needs me, we need to heal from this and we need the community`s help in doing that.”
The city manager of Aurora says the recruitment process to find a new permanent process is moving forward but it’s expected to take six to eight months before a new chief is named.
Deputy Chief Paul O’Keefe was set to take over as interim chief until the department announced that he won’t serve in the role last week, pending his retirement in March of 2020.