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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The Aurora Police Department has parted ways with Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly announced Wednesday morning.

Wilson became the first female police chief of APD in August of 2020. She has been with APD for 25 years.

FOX31 obtained an email sent by Twombly announcing the change, and it was later confirmed in a news release sent by the city.

“I need to let you know that I am making a leadership change at the Aurora Police Department. My decision comes after a considerable amount of assessment of the state of APD and Chief Wilson’s work in her two years as chief. I recognize there are areas of the department that need refocused attention,” Twombly said in his email to city employees.

Twombly praised Wilson’s community involvement.

“It is clear that Chief Wilson has prioritized community involvement. However, the police chief also needs to effectively manage the operations of the department, effectively engage with staff, build morale, and validate employee feedback. To provide the level of public safety that our community deserve, a change in leadership must occur,” Twombly said.

Sources told FOX31’s Rob Low that Wilson was terminated, and FOX31 later obtained a copy of Wilson’s termination letter.

“As an at-will employee, consistent with the city charter and in honoring the Offer of Employment you negotiated with me, justification is not required for your removal. I have lost trust and no longer have full confidence in your ability to lead the Aurora Police Department,” the letter said.

APD Division Chief Chris Juul will oversee operations at APD temporarily, Twombly said.

Chris Juul
Aurora Police Division Chief Chris Juul (Credit: Aurora Police Department)

A nationwide search will begin immediately for the next chief.

“We must continually evolve as a city to build up our “New Way” of approaching public safety to serve the best interests of our community and our employees,” Twombly explained.

Attorney General Phil Weiser released the following statement:

“I thank Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson’s for her years of service. She worked hard to develop a consent decree that will improve policing and build trust in law enforcement in Aurora. Regardless of who the police chief is, the city has an obligation to implement the requirements of the consent decree. We look forward to continuing that important work.”

Twombly’s termination letter to Wilson outlined two areas of concern:

Overall Leadership – Failure to effectively create a positive culture of stability, employee satisfaction, and engagement in the agency.

Overall Management – Failure to strategically review, assess, manage, and provide efficient oversight to the overall police department operations.”

As part of Wilson’s employment agreement, she will get 12 months payment based on her current salary and the cost of health insurance. If she accepts a different offer the severance payments will be discontinued.