Aurora police chief fires cop for lying about stealing department time

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AURORA | Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson fired a patrol officer Wednesday found to have lied about leaving work early multiple times last summer.

Wilson fired Officer Robert Lyons, who was originally hired in 2017, for violating a trio of department rules related to making false claims, requesting leave and poor performance.

In a statement, a department spokesperson said Lyons left work early a total of nine times in 2020 between Aug. 3 and Sept. 22 without telling his supervisor and without documenting the reduced hours in the department timekeeping system. He was paid for slightly more than 34 hours he did not technically work, Wilson wrote in a disciplinary memo.

Internal affairs documents show that Lyons was on “light duty” after sustaining an unspecified injury during the period of misconduct. When his boss asked him whether he was leaving work to make scheduled physical therapy appointments for his injury, Lyons said via email that he was not. But when an internal panel of department brass asked Lyons if he had missed work because of his malady, he said he had and reneged on his original claim to his supervisor.

“During his internal affairs interview, he told the investigator that he had missed work because of physical therapy,” according to internal documents released late Wednesday. “When confronted with the email he sent to his supervisor, he admitted that the email was untruthful.”

Lyons’ firing comes nearly two months after Wilson fired another officer caught lying about requesting overtime last year.

A total of eight former Aurora police officers were discharged from the department in 2020, several of whom were implicated in high-profile scandals that widely sullied the department’s reputation across the region.

Wilson, who was named the department’s first female chief last year after skippering a tumultuous summer, has pledged to crack down on internal malfeasance in the beleaguered department that saw an  outsized exodus of personnel last year. More workers left Aurora Police in 2020 than in 2015 and 2016 combined, human resources records show.

“A police officer who chooses to be dishonest forfeits their credibility and becomes ineffective to the judicial system, our police department and the community we serve,” Wilson said in a statement. “My commitment to rebuild trust with our community will not tolerate such deceptive conduct of an officer who has been given the privilege to wear this badge. It is disappointing to learn an officer has betrayed their oath. I want to reassure the community I will continue to hold our members accountable for their actions while also recognizing the majority who display unwavering integrity each and every day.”

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