AURORA | The firm chosen to monitor Aurora’s implementation of public safety reforms again stressed its independence at a town hall Tuesday night, with its president promising listeners it would “hold the city’s feet to the fire.”
“We will hold the city’s feet to the fire, but at the same time, we will be providing and lending our expertise,” IntegrAssure president Jeff Schlanger vowed. “We will always call things as we see them.”
Schlanger said the firm has seen “exemplary cooperation” from Aurora Police Department and Aurora Fire Rescue since it was selected in February to oversee the city’s compliance with reforms described in the consent decree negotiated between Aurora and the state attorney general’s office.
“While we know that there are changes coming to the leadership of the police department, we fully expect, and in fact have been assured, that that degree of cooperation will continue,” Schlanger said, alluding to the recent firing of Police Chief Vanessa Wilson.
Wilson said she was ousted because of her staunch demands for police reform against pushback from some city council members and police union officials. City Manager Jim Twombly maintains Wilson was let go because of other, undetailed management concerns.
Acting Chief Chris Juul was present in-person for the Tuesday town hall.
“We will work, and we will do our work, irrespective of who may sit in which seat in city government,” Schlanger said.
He also said the city was “well underway in terms of reforms” outlined in the decree by the time IntegrAssure was hired.
Schlanger was joined by several other representatives of his firm, deputy attorney general Janet Drake, Twombly and community members, several of whom asked questions during a question-and-answer segment moderated by Mosaic Church of Aurora pastor Reid Hettich and Aurora NAACP president Omar Montgomery.
“You keep an eye on the independent monitor,” Twombly told the community, “who will keep an eye on the city, and I think working together like that, we’ll end up with a much-improved police and fire department. … It’s very important for our community to understand that we, the city, will be held accountable.”
IntegrAssure is also assembling a “community advisory council” made up of citizens and led by Hettich and Montgomery, Schlanger said. He described the group as the “finger on the pulse of the community” as reforms are enacted.
Firm representatives described some of their other priorities, including coming up with hiring and promotion processes that prioritize diversity and qualifications; monitoring police and fire policies, and specifically those policies concerning the sedative drug ketamine, which Elijah McClain was injected with before his death; and monitoring city agencies for deviation from the decree.
Schlanger said that, since February, representatives have been meeting with locals, providing limited technical assistance, going on ridealongs with police and fire, setting up the firm’s online presence and establishing the criteria to determine compliance with the decree.
After the presentations by Schlanger and others, community members were invited to ask questions of the group. Multiple people asked about training officers to interact with people who have mental health problems, as well as the potential impacts of stress and trauma on the mental health of officers.
Schlanger told one resident that, while the consent decree doesn’t address mental health specifically, mental health topics intersect with some of the reforms mentioned in the agreement.
“It is a component of many aspects of the consent decree, and specifically the use of force,” he said.
Twombly mentioned training the specialized crisis training encouraged for police officers by the city, and Drake said the attorney general’s office was conducting a statewide “job analysis” to eventually improve the training given to first responders.
Schlanger said past monitorships have resulted in improved mental health among officers, since “officers feel better about their job when communities feel better about them.” He also said the city had the best officer wellness programs he had seen in a police department.
Other community members expressed concerns over the firing of Wilson and what that could mean for the future of reform in the city. Wilson’s firing by Twombly came as conservative council members advocated for leadership changes in the department, and Wilson’s own attorney has cast the move as a political maneuver meant to stifle reforms.
Schlanger credited Juul in part for the cooperation that he said the firm has seen from police, saying Wilson had put Juul in charge of implementing the consent decree within the department.
“We will accept nothing less than a chief, both interim and ultimately permanent, who is committed to everything that Chief Wilson was committed to in terms of making sure that this consent decree reaches its goal of substantial compliance and a process of continuous improvement that will be sustained long after we leave,” Schlanger said.
“It looks like to me it’s going to be the same thing,” civil rights activist Alvertis Simmons countered.
Schlanger said IntegrAssure would be holding regular community meetings following the release of each of its quarterly progress reports during the first year. The next report is scheduled to be released online July 15. He encouraged residents interested in a spot on the new community advisory to apply online at www.auroramonitor.org.
If they’ve been working with the city since February, they must have a pretty good handle on what kind of job Chief Wilson was doing. Were they consulted before the political hack job of firing her?
This is not reassuring that City has any intention of really accomplishing police reform and meeting the APD Order for Reform. Actions speak louder than words.
If you believe anything this city council or Twombly say, I have a bridge to sell you out west.
This is standard CYA, circle the wagons stuff.
Let’s placate these dummies in the community until we can get back to business as usual, right?
Don’t fall for it.
These rats are just chewing their cheese. That’s what rats do.
I learned long ago that if you really wanted to fix something, you should talk to the people who do the job. You would not talk to the CEO of an auto company about a problem on the assembly line. Just getting information from a chief of police does not do much to solve problems. Often, the officers have given the chief ideas for a long time meant to address the problems. Often, the chiefs have ignored those ideas, sometimes resulting in unnecessary deaths. The trick used is to then create a task force to study the problem. The task force then comes up with the same things that the officers haver been telling the chief for years. The chief then publicly accepts those ideas and is seen as progressive and a reformer.
There is this talk about trust and leadership. The city has kept officer input out of the entire process. If you had any significant connection with law enforcement you were kept out of committees. The only input has been from politician chiefs or some token scared junior officer. So, why would I want to be a police officer? You have already labeled the police as racist, without allowing any input from the police. You are ready to judge use of force after the fact without any background in use of force. The Supreme Court had already given realistic standards to police officers. Now, with the reform bill, you want to give officers vague wordings on use of force and you want to judge officers based upon your later interpretation of those wordings. The legislature will not explain nor debate what their language means. You want to have trust and a partnership but only if the police have no say and no chance to defend themselves. You want to arrest and sue the police for violating your vague guidelines. You want to make every stop of a black person a racial incident. Why would I want to be a police officer if I cannot even determine what force I can use to protect myself? Why would I want to be a part of a group you have automatically labeled as racist and brutal?
The city has allowed flawed concepts to be accepted without any counter argument. The legislature’s police reform bill has established a couple of positive things. Bodycams and transparency are good. Vague, paralyzing guidelines on use of force are not. The overwhelming effort to insert race into policing is not good. The acceptance of broad statements about systemic racism, while ignoring facts about racial disparencies in crime, is not good. Ignoring that crime statistics show a disparate racial involvement in crime is not good. The leading cause of death for young black males is other young black males. The shootings around the country that are resulting in multiple victims are, more often than not, the result of a dispute between young black males. The mass looting that we have seen is most often committed by groups of young blacks. If you look at the statistics on arrests and stops in Colorado, you will find that the statistics are disproportionate in most cities where there is a significant black population. We are not to address these things honestly. As Thomas Sowell said, this is the “invincible fallacy”. The white guilt over slavery will not allow an honest look at race and crime. So, we start with a lie in the Attorney General’s report. That lie is now perpetuated in the consent decree. We must establish racially proportionate statistics, no matter what it does to effective law enforcement. Yes, we will spend millions of dollars to conform to long lists of standards established by academically minded monitors. We will beat the officers down with repeated bias training and an emphasis on the fact that they should not use any type of force. We will judge that force from the view of a police chief, an academic, or an activist. We will not let reality slip into the picture. Anyone who questions will be labeled a racist and someone who just resists change. The history of intellectuals and race should be examined. In the early 1900s, the intellectuals, including the President, said that black people were genetically inferior. They were wrong. Studies of many black charter schools have shown that the academic achievements of their graduates far exceeded the achievements of whites from elite schools. Now, the intellectuals, including the President, have decided that lack of success and arrests are all due to systemic racism. They are wrong again. They are eloquent, but wrong. There are cultural problems in the black community that are holding many in the community back. Young blacks are ridiculing other young blacks who try to get an education. Many are ridiculed for simply trying to be successful in a society that is mostly white. The gang life, violence, and drugs are glorified by our media and some of the black community. There are cultural problems that the black churches have tried, unsuccessfully, to address for many years. Luckily, we can now just ignore black crime and chalk it up to racism. All of those young black males who are killed resisting and fighting the police can be simply called innocent victims of police violence. The police should be held accountable when they overreact. But, some acknowledgment must be made that those young black males had some responsibility for their involvement in crime and their failure to comply with officers. They were not killed because of a traffic violation. They were killed because they used some amount of force against the police.
There are a few things in the consent decree that we had tried for years to get the chiefs to establish. But, for the most part, the consent decree will cost millions to establish long lists of politically correct burdens that slow or stop effective law enforcement. I learned long ago that politicians usually sacrifice all of our futures for what will make them look good now. Whenever you create long complicated lists of considerations, excessive review, and excessive requirements for documentation, you basically end the initiative to be involved. The idea that you don’t want officers to use any force and that you don’t want them to make stops for minor violations flies in the face of any effective enforcement. All of those minor stops are where officers find people involved in more serious crimes. So, you don’t want the police to bother that mentally ill person who is acting strangely because they may react with violence toward the police. Instead, we want that dangerous mentally ill person to push you in front of a train or to randomly stab your loved one. Thank you for protecting the police and the dangerous, mentally ill person. Anyway, when you say the police don’t do anything, please understand that they are now being encouraged to not do anything by the people who are supposed to be looking out for your safety.
The City of Aurora is now committed to a flawed path that is politically acceptable. They cannot admit that the emperor has no clothes. They will select a chief who is committed to the flawed goals. It will go on for years and the city will pay a self serving monitor millions. Meanwhile, the police will be ineffective. The older officers who know that it is a lie will simply bide their time until they can get out. The younger officers will not know how to do policing and will accept that the police just don’t do much. They will still respond to those shootings, if it is obvious enough. They just won’t know how to do anything proactive. The community policing idea will keep just being a token thing where the police talk to the citizens to make them feel good. You can’t do any proactive policing when you are not supposed to stop people for minor things. So, those people racing through the streets in your neighborhood are not going to be stopped. That aggressive panhandler who gets in your face won’t be bothered. Those suspicious people who are probably stealing your packages, breaking into your mailbox or your car, won’t be bothered. Forget telling the officers about the problems in your neighborhood. Crime statistics may go down because the citizens realize that it is futile to call the police.
As is always the case, it will be years before anyone has the nerve to ask what went wrong. Those who push these ideas will be long gone. The monitor will have hung on long enough to get a handsome reward and will bail out after declaring success in creating long lists of policies and requirements. Crime won’t change until we accept that there are bad people (Putin and his troops are a good example), and those people should be held accountable. Then, we must accept that it takes force to deal with bad people. Talk all you want. They only understand force and they understand when the chances of getting caught go up.
In conclusion, we are not going to have any honest conversation here. Systems and bureaucracies inherently just protect their existence and their power. Putin makes sure that his people only hear what he wants. Our systems do the same thing. Our systems just kill fewer people.
The root cause of politically driven decisions made to please the extreme wing of either of the two parties is the partisan majority control each seeks above all else…by far.
We can take partisan control off the table by simply electing a couple of moderate Independents in 2023.
Just imagine the possibilities!
Vanessa was never qualified or had experience to do the job she was a molly hatchet hire to fire others until she was fired those that support her are obvious hacks as well
Looks like they did this by hiring a former Aurora police chief. What a joke!
empty words, their actions show they are not committed to APD Reform
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