Aurora ends police chief search emptyhanded after 2 of 3 finalists withdraw

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AURORA | Aurora announced Tuesday afternoon the failure of its first attempt to find a replacement for ousted police chief Vanessa Wilson, after three finalists withdrew or were rejected by city leaders.

Officials said they would announce soon how Aurora will proceed in finding a new police chief following weeks of friction between community leaders and the city.

The final stage of the chief search was fraught with controversy, with one candidate — Scott Booth of the Danville Police Department in Virginia — dropping out the same day the city announced its lineup of three finalists.

The two remaining candidates — Scott Ebner formerly of the New Jersey State Police and David Franklin of the Albuquerque Police Department — met with police and community members last week, but the city announced Tuesday afternoon that Franklin withdrew his application after visiting the city.

City spokesman Ryan Luby later wrote in an email that Ebner “did not have a majority of the necessary support to proceed.”

“Over the last week, I listened to a lot of feedback from community members and City Council members who want us to continue the search for a variety of reasons, and I support that,” City Manager Jim Twombly said in a press release.

“We all – city management, the City Council and the community – want the best person for the job who will address crime in Aurora and lead the Aurora Police Department to be racially equitable, bias-free, culturally competent and responsive to all residents.”

The announcement means Aurora has no clear timeline for replacing Wilson, who City Manager Jim Twombly fired earlier this year, naming former chief Dan Oates as her temporary replacement.

“Moving forward, we will be assessing the process and determining next steps as we continue the search,” Twombly said Tuesday. “People across our community may have differing preferences of who they want to lead the Aurora Police Department, but we will make sure that whoever is chosen will be held to serving every member of our community equitably.”

The selection of Booth, Ebner and Franklin as finalists drew sharp criticism from a spectrum of lawmakers and community leaders who called the process opaque and said no serious effort was made to get the input of residents of color on the candidates.

“We have an opportunity to do this better and get it right this time,” said state Sen. Rhonda Fields, who criticized the city’s selection process after the finalists were initially announced in a joint statement with state Sen. Janet Buckner.

Fields said the city should take the chance to solicit feedback from residents about what they’d like in a new chief, and use that to guide the selection of a new chief. Buckner said she hoped the city brings the community into the process before finalists are chosen.

“This is the right thing to do, starting over again,” she said. “It’s too important of a decision to rush.”

The city up until Monday defended the process, saying Wilson was chosen via the same process and that seven of the 21 applicants were women or people of color, including two of the nine semifinalists (the three finalists were white men).

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Noneya
Noneya
2 months ago

Not surprised

Last edited 2 months ago by Noneya
Publius
Publius
2 months ago

Who would take the job? And what of interim chief Oates, will he stay on the job beyond the agreed upon time as this process starts over? Also, will the city have to pay the search firm for another search, or will they decide to hire a new search firm?

Roberta Johnson
Roberta Johnson
2 months ago

I’ll say it again and again, who would want to be Police Chief in the City of Aurora? And no, State Senators like Fields and Buckner should have no say in this matter. They don’t come to us when they’re about to make a vote at the Statehouse so, stay out of our business. And, loud mouth citizens like Candace Bailey could sit on a committee but, she’s not an elected official either so she shouldn’t have any decisions on it either. So, I say again, who would really want to dip their toes into such a screwed up cities police department? Find the best qualified candidate, Black, Brown or White and let the process play out. If the City Council doesn’t like it then let them police their city.

Hypocrisy Monitor
Hypocrisy Monitor
2 months ago

A tiny but loud group of radical Aurora activists (including the black ministerial alliance led by the Al Sharpton wannabe Pastor Mayes, and felons like Candace Bailey) have made their voices heard. They’re a big part of the problem.

The Aurora City Council needs to stop playing identity politics and select a chief who will unabashedly crack down on crime and the criminals who commit it. Then they need to heavily recruit officers who will enforce the law, train them well, promise to have their backs, and get out of the way.

Aurora is becoming more lawless by the day. Gang bangers are killing each other. Car theft is rampant. Drug abuse fuels the homeless problem. Major crime has moved well into the suburbs.

It’s high time the city stops kowtowing to the radical fringe (including Marcano and his lackeys Coombs, Murillo, and Medina on the dais.)

Clean this city up! The REAL community demands it!

Doug King
Doug King
2 months ago

it can be seen exactly where you stand.I’ts most unfortunate that we as a society have to protect ourselves against this sort of thinking … very sad.

Hypocrisy Monitor
Hypocrisy Monitor
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug King

Well, I hope “it can be seen.” That’s how clear writing is intended to be. You might work on that yourself. You can make your point clearer by writing in an active voice: “I can see your point.”

We need protection, alright, but not from honesty and reason. Protection from your denial and blind faith in the failed policy.

Bart Emanuel
Bart Emanuel
2 months ago

The “real” community? What’s that mean?

Jaru P.
Jaru P.
2 months ago
Reply to  Bart Emanuel

The people who take the time to support their city by investing their lives in trying to make it a better place to live, instead of committing crimes or supporting those that do. Normal people, not thugs.

Hypocrisy Monitor
Hypocrisy Monitor
2 months ago
Reply to  Bart Emanuel

Simple. The real community is the silent majority–not the loudest voices such as Marcano or Bailey. They want to be protected by our police, do not see the city simply as an experiment in social equity, and who want to live in a safe, prosperous city. Those whose agenda is not simply political gain.

Doug King
Doug King
2 months ago

So a citizen of the city shouldn’t have any say or opinion? I believe that our POC want to be involved to help with the selection. As all three of the candidates were NOT POC, it would seem that input from our diverse city population would be proper. Perhaps even us as citizens could vote who we think should be appointed!!! Give THAT some thought.

Bob
Bob
2 months ago

If anyone is to look at the city run websites that are to give the taxpayer information on pertinent details of the chiefs search, get ready for a whole lot of nothing.The city continues to demonstrate to the taxpayer how useless and inept the people are that run this information center. They continue to mention a “renowned” national recruitment firm over and over. Well Aurora, who is it? And what did we pay this “renowned firm” to produce nothing? This screw up starts at the city hall front door. And this is so typical of the general incompetence coming from these people that want to claim transparency. No wonder folks are leery of anything the city puts out anymore. Its only half of what the complete package should be. This is not new, but the cities position–who cares if we don’t provide full disclosure?
https://engageaurora.org/policechiefsearch/survey_tools/provide-input-on-finalists

Publius
Publius
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Since the contract for the search firm was disscussed and approved by council in an open session, and since this process is being monitored by the attorney general as part of its consent decre monitoring, maybe the city thinks the information is generally well known, so well known they did not care to be redundant by listing the well-known again where you happened to look. Would you allow that might be a possibility?

The idea that this search has occured under a media blackout or a prohibition against community involvement and input is simply false.

Doug King
Doug King
2 months ago
Reply to  Publius

I agree with your first part, not really sure about your second part though.

Doug King
Doug King
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob

I too am frustrated by this whole scenerio. I might be advantageous if we could see what the criteria for a new chief was sent to this recruiting company. And one would think that a city this size would have plenty of chiefs to choose from in the surrounding good sized cities in Colorado. Just look at them and ask them to come interview if they are interested. Oh, kinda like what happened with the Arapahoe Sheriff WHO WAS ELECTED. Elections might be the way to go. How bout it city council?

Hypocrisy Monitor
Hypocrisy Monitor
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug King

I have a suggestion for you, Doug. Run for office. Please.

Surely you have your finger on the pulse of things, as you seem to have a dissenting opinion on everything the council does, both on here and on Next Door.

And certainly, you must have enough support to vote you in. So go for it. Stop running your mouth and step up for Aurora.

Berv
Berv
2 months ago

Of course no candidates of quality want this job. Who wants their livelihood and their family’s entire world caught right in the middle of this rhetorical warzone? Our police department is recognized nationwide as horrible, and the a Chief needs to turn it around – but they have no pathway to actually do that. It’s a job that is set up for failure – no smart person who is career-minded will take it, because they know it would be miserable and that it would destroy their career for any other Chief jobs in the future. Half of the police force and half of the City Council is going to defy the new police force no matter what – if the new Chief is a reformist, Doug Wilkinson and Danielle Jurinsky will lead the witch hunt against them; if the new Chief is a traditionalist, Coombs and the community members demanding changes will never support them. The only way the Chief would be able to be successful is it the City Manager would stand up for them and refuse to cave to pressure from one side or the other – and Jim Twombly already proved VERY publicly that he will cave to political pressure. Any Chief candidate who can use Google is just going to see the list of horrible brutalities and breaches of trust that Aurora police have committed; and they are going to see Doug Wilkinson’s racist diatribe that represents half the police force in Aurora resisting even simple changes; they’re going to see Danielle Jurinsky’s illegal meddling in police and the rest of the Council giving her immunity for it; they’re going to see Wilson’s firing and how her career was destroyed; and they’re going to see no hope for success in the job. They will see a vision in their head of what will happen – they would get the job, they would be sworn in, they would be harassed and bullied by half of the police force they are either trying to change or conserve, they would be in a fight for their lives and someone on Council would publicly slander them and pressure the City Manager to fire them, the City Manager would give in (out of fear for his own job and family) and now they are completely screwed.

It doesn’t matter what process Twombly uses to hire the person – it’s too late. It mattered what process Twombly used to fire the last person. The moment that he gave into the political pressure from Jurinsky, he set this stage. The only way to get a strong, capable candidate (whether reformist or traditionalist, black or white, man or woman) would be to somehow convince the candidate that they would have the backing and support of the City Manager, and that they would be protected from Council meddling – Jim Twombly cannot provide that reassurance, he’s already shown that he will flip-flop whenever a loud Councilmember throws a temper tantrum, and if there is one thing our Council can be relied upon to do, it is throw temper tantrums.

The state or another higher entity is going to need to intervene and actually prevent power trips and tantrums like Jurinsky is apt to throw. We won’t have any hope or moving forward until Jurinsky is actually held accountable for her breach of the Aurora charter and ALL of Council is prevented from pressuring and intervening in the Police Chief staffing, or until we have a City Manager that proves they won’t appease meddling from Council. Our entire government is destabilized by this lawlessness, and it’s not just the shoplifters – it’s in our City Council.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

The commentors who question if the job of APD Police Chief is actually doable have valid concerns. Just dealing with a diverse community of activists and community leaders who want input and accountability is a 24/7 task. I think former Chief Wilson’s undoing was that her focus on this task left her with insufficient time to oversee the APD and generate confidence among her officers that their needs and concerns were just as important to her as her community outreach efforts. I think the powers that be should consider recruiting for a chief and a deputy chief at the same time. No one person, no matter how skilled and committed, has enough time in the day to accomplish the daunting workload of community outreach and internal management of the APD. My vision and hope is that a two person team of chief and deputy chief can develop the rapport and synergy to turn things around. It would take time but I don’t think the goal of righting the ship is unattainable.

Jaru P.
Jaru P.
2 months ago

If Fields and Buckner want to tell Aurora how to govern itself, they ought to run for City Council instead of interfering from a distance.
As for the city government, they prefer to let activists and other loud voices dictate the criteria and acceptable candidates for the job. It would be just what they deserve for abdicating their responsibility to the people who elected them if no one applied for the job on this second farce of a “search.”

Don Black
Don Black
2 months ago

It is sad that we can never have an honest conversation about the police situation. As one who spent 32 years in APD, it is painful to watch all the misconceptions and lack of knowledge about any of the real problems. The next chief has an impossible job with all of the disinformation, misconceptions, and the political camps. When you understand that the people chosen as chiefs today are simply politicians who know and care little about crime, you begin to understand where the problems came from. One thing I do know is that we won’t have any informed discussion. When you start with the fact that the City has bowed to a consent decree that is counterproductive, you are doomed from the start.