AURORA | Aurora police have announced strides made toward compliance with the city’s consent decree in the form of new policies and training focusing on de-escalation, constitutional law and more.
Drafted following the death of Elijah McClain, the consent decree is an agreement between the city and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office that mandates dozens of reforms meant to end a pattern of racially-biased policing and excessive force.
The Aurora Police Department was previously admonished for missing a number of training and policy deadlines in the decree by IntegrAssure, the risk management firm tasked with monitoring Aurora’s compliance with the consent decree.
“We are still in the process of getting caught up, but we have a plan with the monitor to make that happen,” division chief Chris Juul said Thursday. “We have done an incredible amount of training so far in this past year. … We have people out there doing a lot of great work, and we just want to make sure they have good guidance from the leadership.”
According to a news release, as of March 1, all sworn officers have received training on intervening when fellow officers use unnecessary force as well as de-escalating critical incidents, including interactions complicated by mental health problems.
APD started running officers through the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement training program in 2021, and all officers were said to have completed two sessions of training in 2022, with updated training forthcoming in mid-2023. The Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act requires officers to intervene and file a report if they see another officer using unlawful force.
The Integrating Communication Assessment and Tactics training program was rolled out over a two-month period and completed in 2023.
The department also announced the rollout of its new constitutional policing policy, which was drafted to provide clear guidance to officers regarding when they should stop and search members of the public. The Colorado Attorney General’s Office previously found that Aurora police interacted with and stopped people of color disproportionately.
The so-called “constitutional policing” policy, cited on the department’s website, lists several different types of stops and searches, and describes when officers are allowed to initiate each and what officers are allowed to do during these encounters while respecting the public’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Police said in the news release that training on the policy was completed in February and included how officers are required to document their interactions with the public by the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act.
A separate policy on bias-based policing reiterates the importance of officers relying on the constitutional policing policy when making stops and describes the negative consequences of officers stopping citizens based solely on demographics when those demographics aren’t part of a suspect description.
“Biased-based policing undermines legitimate law enforcement efforts, alienates a significant percentage of the population, and fosters distrust of law enforcement by the public,” the policy reads. “Sworn members should recognize the value of creating opportunities to improve the perceived legitimacy of the agency by the public.”
Training on the bias-based policing policy is still in development and will be delivered to officers later this year, the news release said. Aurora police also began training jointly with Aurora Fire Rescue firefighters to improve cooperation at emergency scenes.
Police spokesman Joe Moylan broke down which of the specific mandates in the consent decree the new policies and training reflected. They included multiple mandates associated with deadlines that the department has missed.
Juul said the department is still getting caught up on deadlines related to the use of force by officers. He said police weren’t aware how long the policy-writing process would take when the decree was first introduced and that more officers had been assigned to the task over the past year.
The department’s rewritten use-of-force policy will be finalized by the first week in May, Juul said.