Seattle candidate, Nick Metz, named new chief of police for Aurora

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Assistant Seattle Police Chief Nick Metz addresses the media at an officer-involved shooting in 2012. (Photo: Seattle Times)

Assistant Seattle Police Chief Nick Metz addresses the media at an officer-involved shooting in 2012. (Photo: John Lok/Seattle Times)

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AURORA, Colo. -- A candidate from Seattle has been named as the new Chief of Police for the Aurora Police Department.

Nick Metz is the assistant chief of the Seattle Police Department. He's been with the SPD for 31 years and was in a command position for 13 years.

“To say this opportunity is a dream come true would be an understatement. I am excited to work along-side the women and men of this nationally recognized agency as we work together to enhance public safety and continue to build upon the already strong partnerships with Aurora’s diverse communities. I thank Mr. Noe and his team for their confidence, and will work hard to maintain it,” said Metz in a statement.

Metz, 52, will need to be confirmed by the Aurora City Council.  A hearing is set for Feb. 2.   His annual compensation would be $163,500 plus benefits.

Aurora City Manager Skip Noe made the announcement in a statement Thursday morning.  The previous chief, Dan Oates, left to head the Miami Police Department in April.

“I believe that Nick Metz is the right person with the right skills to lead the Aurora Police Department. His extensive experience leading a large organization, serving a complex and diverse community, makes him a unique fit for the Aurora of today and the future,” said Noe.

Deputy Chief Terry Jones served as the interim chief since Oates departure.

Metz will be the department’s first African-American police chief.  He will take over a department that handled the mass shooting at the Century 16 theater in 2012 as well as a department that polices a diverse community.

The department is the second largest in Colorado. It has over 700 employees and a budget of over $100 million.

Nick Metz. (Photo: Seattle Police Department)
Nick Metz. (Photo: Seattle Police Department)

Metz was leader in Seattle department with troubled history

Metz has worked in the Seattle Police Department for over three decades, but his tenure there has not been without controversy.

He was at the center of the department’s leadership as it fell under a 2012 federal consent decree to curtail excessive force and biased policing.  Several of those high-profile violent confrontations between officers and citizens were recorded on video and featured in news reports.

Last year, a female patrol sergeant, Ella Elias, claimed she was pushed out of command after complaining that Metz had handpicked four patrol officers for a “nightclub emphasis” duty that saw each paid thousands of dollars in overtime, reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Elias had a spotless record at the department but said she was subjected to several unwarranted investigations and lost command of her squad.  Her attorney said the action was retaliation.

The Seattle City Attorney's Office has denied Elias' claims.

Metz was demoted in Nov. 2013 during a department shakeup led by then-interim Police Chief Jim Pugel.  Pugel was himself pushed out in March of 2014 by the mayor.  Pugel's replacement, interim-chief Harry Bailey, returned Metz to his previous rank of assistant chief.

Metz has been described as one of the most popular chiefs among the rank and file and was the department's highest-ranking African American officer.

Current Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole praised Metz and said she was "delighted for Nick."

“I have huge respect for him,” O’Toole told the Seattle Times. “He has well over a decade of command experience. He is really good in day-to-day operations and in crisis situations. He brings a maturity and experience that is second to none.”

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