LETTERS: Together Colorado stands in solidarity with Vanessa Wilson

Editor: We, the Transforming Justice Team of Together Colorado, were shocked and disappointed when we learned of the firing of Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson. As Coloradans, no matter where we live, how much money we make, or our race or religion, we all want our community to be safe to live, work, and raise our families. Unfortunately, the police department in Aurora has not always provided a sense of safety and security for the city’s inhabitants. Chief Wilson was hired to remedy this situation in 2019 and provide safety to everyone in the Aurora community.

We believe she was in the process of doing just that for the whole community. In the words of state Senators Rhonda Fields and Janet Buckner, Chief Wilson has been “rebuilding our community’s trust in our city’s police department.”

In September, after a yearlong investigation by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, the Aurora Police Department (A.P.D.) was found to have violated state and federal laws with racially biased policing and excessive force practices. As a result, A.P.D. was placed under a consent decree and is currently under the supervision of a specially appointed Independent Monitor. Clearly, the problems that Chief Wilson was addressing were severe and pervasive and called for decisive action. It seems that some of her decisive actions, though correct and called for, were not popular with some in the police department and city. We would assert that adverse reactions to her reforms are in fact a sign of Chief Wilson’s effectiveness at bringing about reform rather than a sign of her incompetence. We are deeply concerned that the firing of Chief Wilson will set back efforts to rebuild trust between the community and the A.P.D., as well as decrease community safety.

As people of a multi-faith organization, we strive to build God’s Commonwealth here on earth where everyone has a moral responsibility to their neighbor, no matter their race or rank. We at Together Colorado stand in solidarity with Chief Wilson. She provided an example of leading law enforcement reform and building trust in the most diverse city in the State of Colorado.

Together Colorado, via [email protected]

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Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago

While most support the Chief, there are those whose politics and homophobia will not allow them to do so.

Don Black
Don Black
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Too easy to ignore the facts and just label it homophobia or politics. That is the way today. Ignore rational discussion and just scream some label. If you had worked with Chief Wilson, I might give some credibility to your opinion.

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Well, Joe, again you are just saying meaningless, personal feelings with no relationship to facts. You don’t know any more than I do whether “most” support the Ex-Chief or not. I do know three things as undeniable facts.

Whoever did/does support her is a moot point as she is gone/fired.

A majority of the APD officers before her firing voted to not support her leadership by a vote of approximately 450 to 16.

All forms of crime has dramatically risen, especially major crime in her two years of
leadership.

mrpw
mrpw
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

😂

Don Black
Don Black
1 month ago

While I have no doubt that this organization has the best motives, they are naive like most of our society. While there has always been an ethical leadership problem in law enforcement, the fixes would not have been that difficult if people would listen to those inside law enforcement who were trying to change things. Vanessa Wilson was part of the good ole boy network that played politics and favoritism to get to the top. She did not stand up to try to change things during her long career. She kept her mouth shut and climbed the ladder like a good politician. She is smart enough to continue playing the good politician and cozy up to the citizen groups with a cultivated caring manner. Yes, she fired some officers who should have been fired. Any smart politician knows that they have to appear like they are strong leaders and intent on cleaning up the police force. They can’t hide the way they used to. Where was that strong leader during an entire career with APD. I am sorry, but Together Colorado, like the public, doesn’t know Vanessa Wilson. Vanessa fired some people who should not have been fired. She immediately condemned officers when it was politically to her advantage. She failed to stand up against the lies that the officers knew were being told about them as a whole. The department is not systemically racist or brutal. They are undertrained and officers have used bad judgement in a number of circumstances. There are always those who should not be police officers. During her career, Vanessa did not push for training or better ways to deal with problem officers. She never stood up. I have listened to many horror stories from people who worked with her through the years. That caring professional that she projects now was never present through her career. So, the officers can see that she is simply playing the political game and doing what is politically correct. She was sending incidents with the officers to the DA’s office for prosecution before her own investigators even had a chance to look at the cases. She was ready to reopen cases where the officers had been cleared when she saw they might come to the public’s attention. Inside the department, she showed tremendous insecurity and yelled at anyone who might question something she said.

Let us talk about what is really happening. The state legislature overreacted to the George Floyd death and created a tremendously flawed police reform bill that drove many hundreds of officers out of police work. The bill infers that police departments are systemically racist and insists on proportionate arrest statistics that are not possible if officers are really doing their job. Worse, the use of force guidelines that were created were so vague and unrealistic that officers no longer had any idea what force, if any, could be used to stop people or to protect themselves. To make it worse, the bill made it easier to sue officers at the same time as it made their job a vague quagmire. the Supreme Court had made it clear that the use of force should be judged from the viewpoint of a reasonable officer at the scene and not from 20/20 hindsight. While bodycams and transparency are good, judgment by the uninformed is not. So now, we have prosecutors, and people like Vanessa Wilson, who are quick to want to charge officers for what we call perceived excessive force. Officers are being charged for just touching someone’s neck in a struggle. As I view pictures of basketball players, girl’s high wrestlers, and citizens trying to grab a criminal, I see that occurring all the time. We have outlawed chokeholds that many officers have used to get control instead of shooting fighting suspects. The recent Grand Rapids shooting where the officer was on the suspects back and could have used a neck restraint, he instead shot the suspect in the head. The public is poorly informed and the media and the legislature don’t want you go to hear anything but the popular narrative.

Ay any rate, the officers know that Vanesa Wilson did not represent them in any way and cared only about her image. Worse, a chief has a responsibility to the community as a whole. I don’t mean just the minority community or some people who claim to represent the minority community. I mean the whole community. To not stand up and forcefully question the flawed narrative is putting the whole community at risk. When a reform bill has crippled the ability of law enforcement to protect the whole community, it is the responsibility of those in charge to stand up. It takes courage to question the systemic racism being promoted by so many different powerful people. By going along with it and crippling law enforcement, those in charge have created a dangerous environment for all of us. Young black males are shooting up the streets in disproportionate fashion. Everyone else is in danger of being caught in the crossfire. Many minority children are being killed as a result. So, when an academic, like the Attorney General Weiser, creates a report that calls everything racist without any proof, there should have been some questioning going on. When he insists that arrest statistics be proportionate when the crime committed is not, there is a problem. This cowardice by chiefs and elected officials is dooming the public safety and the public monies. When you just knuckle under to things the police know are not true, you open your police agency and your city to automatic civil suits whenever a black suspect complains. When Aurora commits to a consent decree that has the same goals as the flawed police reform bill, effective law enforcement will not be possible.

So, there is far more to the Vanessa Wilson saga than you or Together Colorado understand. It will stay that way as long as the media and our leaders only let you hear the popular narrative.

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
1 month ago

I wondered why a group would take up their time with a cause that had already been settled that I had never heard about, so I Googled, Together Colorado.

This is a group of over 200 Colorado churches. As there is a distinct separation of Church and State, (politics), in this country, is Together Colorado put together to give the Church a say in politics so the individual churches can truthfully say they are not involved?

Personally, I could care less and feel that any church should have a say on anything that they want to address political or not. For now that’s not the law of the land and this opinion letter appears to be completely political.

Justin
Justin
1 month ago

Rebuild the trust from the community all you want but unless you get buy in from the rank and file, you are doomed to fail. When you fire a guy for a simple “ha” on a text message reply, you don’t deserve to lead.
When you fire a union head for sending emails through his personal email address, to another personal email address (that they consented to receive by enrolling in notifications), you don’t deserve to lead.
When you hide behind the fact that you weren’t in charge when a cop was passed out behind the wheel, just to hide him from further scrutiny in a BS desk job, you don’t deserve to lead.
When you don’t defend your department in a political hit job in the Elijah McClain case (which grand jury doctors just stated that the Officers were not the cause of death) YOU DON’T DESERVE TO LEAD!
Uber partisan Weiser could have gone after other agencies in this state that have worse records than Aurora but he chose to go after the low hanging fruit of Vanessa Wilson because he knew she was weak and would get no pushback.
Vanessa was the biggest problem with the department, rebuilding could only start once she was gone.

mrpw
mrpw
1 month ago

Yep!