Aurora lawmakers mixed on funding federal, county prosecutors to pursue serious crimes

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A sheriff’s deputy walks the grounds of the Arapahoe County District Court (AP File Photo/Brennan Linsley)

AURORA | Aurora’s City Council expressed early support on Monday for a host of policy changes, including hiring another employee to help the U.S. Attorney’s Office pursue crimes.

Councilman Dustin Zvonek said the proposal to hire one full-time attorney and appoint them as a special assistant to the U.S. Attorney’s Office was made in response to statutory changes that make it tougher to prosecute crimes such as possession of a weapon by a previous offender outside of federal court.

“This (intergovernmental agreement) … will put a tool in our toolbelt allowing us to federally prosecute these felons in a way that the state law now does not allow us to do,” Zvonek said.

Under the terms of the proposed IGA, the locally-hired assistant would help the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecute crimes in Aurora. No council members objected to the proposal.

However, a majority opposed another proposal to fund two more assistant district attorney positions in the 18th Judicial District to help prosecute violent crimes, specifically those addressed by the Regional Anti-Violence Enforcement Network.

“The rising rates of violent crime of course have been really alarming,” said Assistant District Attorney Tom Byrnes. “The proposal would be to increase our ability to assign prosecutors from the 18th particularly to work on the RAVEN cases.”

Funding the two attorneys’ jobs would cost the city up to $275,000 per year, according to a draft IGA between the DA’s office and the city. Mayor Mike Coffman and others questioned why the city was being approached for funding before counties.

“I’m really disappointed,” Coffman said. “This is the responsibility of county taxpayers, and it is unprecedented to go to a municipality and to ask for a municipality to fund what are the counties’ responsibilities.”

Coffman opposed the deal, along with council members Alison Coombs, Angela Lawson, Juan Marcano, Ruben Medina and Crystal Murillo.

Byrnes ultimately agreed to approach the counties within the 18th Judicial District and see if funding could not be secured there before the city made a commitment. Council members did not oppose a suggestion by Councilmember Francoise Bergan that the city write a letter urging the counties to chip in.

Aurora lawmakers also signaled support for a city owned car impound lot to ease storage fees currently imposed by private tow lot companies on car-theft victims. City Council members also supported a measure that would experiment with vehicle-based photo-radar speeding stations placed in neighborhoods.

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Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
5 months ago

Regardless of whether city or county funds are used, the taxpayer deserves full accountability for the 18JD’s performance and I don’t think we’re seeing nearly enough felony convictions. Further, the 18JD’s record on prosecuting white-collar government corruption is an absolute joke. In Aurora, it’s simply ignored.

Doug
Doug
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Brown

Gotta have evidence to convict you know?

Doug King
Doug King
5 months ago

Voters voted out the Red Light Cameras … now this? ” City Council members also supported a measure that would experiment with vehicle-based photo-radar speeding stations placed in neighborhoods.” Wonder how this will go over?

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
5 months ago
Reply to  Doug King

It will be something we’ll end up voting on down the road.

Doug King
Doug King
5 months ago

I’m confused and would like our City Council to explain how our City is paying for a Federal ’employee’? I don’t get it. “Councilman Dustin Zvonek said the proposal to hire one full-time attorney and appoint them as a special assistant to the U.S. Attorney’s Office”

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
5 months ago

When I read or hear “funding,” I think tax dollars. I’d like to have more information from people other than partisan legislators in order to learn the cost-benefit analysis of this proposal. To me, it seems we already have sufficient government employees and that they just need to do their jobs. What good would it do to increase the number of employees who don’t do their jobs? But I also understand that the prosecutorial aspect of the criminal-justice system is utterly broken, as is our entire “justice” system, and the solutions are not simple.

Dean
5 months ago

“Coffman opposed the deal, along with council members Alison Coombs, Angela Lawson, Juan Marcano, Ruben Medina and Crystal Murillo.”

What’s interesting is although these members seem to disagree with the general concept, they have nothing in common with sharing the same reasons. Their reasons are 180 degrees apart.