Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz announces retirement, leaving the city’s police department at year’s end

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Nicholas Metz, chief of the Aurora, Colo., Police Department

AURORA | Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz announced his resignation Friday, saying he will leave the police department and retire from law enforcement at the end of the year.

After weeks of soul searching and getting through a successfully unified and pride-filled weekend of addressing protests in our city, I felt this was the optimal time to notify city management of my decision to retire,” Metz said in a lengthy essay posted to the police department’s Facebook page.  “After 36 story-filled years in law enforcement, making the decision to retire was incredibly difficult.”

In the statement, Metz said he plans to pursue a master’s degree and work with his wife at Code-4 Counseling, an Aurora organization that provides counseling, education and support services to first responders across the state.

A Minnesota native, Metz spent the bulk of his law enforcement career with the Seattle Police Department, eventually becoming an assistant chief in that city.

Metz’s tenure in Aurora was marked with a number of controversial cases involving the deaths or injuries of police subjects at the hands of officers.

Still, he was widely lauded by city leaders and the local department’s rank and file.

“Officers see him in a positive light,” Officer Judy Lutkin said last year, then the newly elected president of the Aurora Police Association, one of the unions that represents Aurora cops. “He has taken the reins and done some amazing things that I would say the majority of officers appreciate.”

Metz leaves the department after more than four years at the helm of the city’s police department. He officially joined the Aurora Police Department in early March 2015.

Read a recent Sentinel Colorado feature story about Metz, “Super chief.”

Metz’ statement is below.

CHIEF NICK METZ’ STATEMENT ON RESIGNATION:

After having served the great city of Seattle for over thirty years, it was my dream to lead an urban agency that was known for its innovativeness, its connection to the community, its belief in doing the right thing, and an agency that embraces the idea of taking good care of each other.

My dream came true when I was blessed to have been selected as Chief of the Aurora Police Department. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had walked into an agency that had many of the qualities I was looking for…and then some.

As in any law enforcement agency you have your ups and downs. You have laughter and tears. But, I can honestly say that through all the challenges, I’ve never been more proud to be part of an organization of women and men, sworn and career service, who are incredibly dedicated to serving this great city.

Upon my arrival I was fortunate to be embraced and supported by a wonderfully diverse community. A community that loves its APD. A community that gave me this ultimatum upon my arrival, “take care of our cops”. Not many major cities throughout the country enjoy that level of community support, from all neighborhoods, like APD.

By now you probably have a fairly good idea of where this letter is going.

After weeks of soul searching and getting through a successfully unified and pride-filled weekend of addressing protests in our city, I felt this was the optimal time to notify city management of my decision to retire. After 36 story-filled years in law enforcement, making the decision to retire was incredibly difficult.

People would sometimes ask how long I plan to stay at APD. My typical response was “when it stops being fun”. But, as I thought more about that answer, I realized that if I waited until its no longer fun, then I would likely leave feeling bitter. That’s not for me.

I’d prefer to leave knowing that I will miss the incredible folks who make up APD…that I will miss each day not knowing how the day will start or how it will end…and that I will miss working with a fantastic community…that I will miss the greatest show on earth. And frankly, given today’s complexities facing law enforcement it’s rare for major city chiefs to leave on their own terms, that was very important to me.

Though I will be retiring from law enforcement in its traditional definition…I still plan to stay very connected. As many of you know, I have a deep passion for taking care of our first responders and their families. My plan is to continue on that path.

After a few weeks of needed down time and boredom, here are just a few things I plan to do:

1- I plan to work with…let me rephrase that…I plan to work FOR my wife at Code-4 Counseling where I will provide wellness trainings to first responders, and assist in managing the day-to-day operations as she and her amazing staff provide counseling services and post-critical incident response to first responders throughout much of the state.

2- I will be working with Colorado State University-Global in helping to create high quality online training and other educational opportunities for first responders, particularly in the area of enhancing physical and emotional wellness.

3- I will be enrolling to Colorado State University-Global where I will complete my Masters Degree in Counseling for First Responders / Military. This will be a new program created by Dr. Sara Metz and will be the first of its kind in the country. My goal will be to continue serving our first responders and their families within a therapeutic environment. And, in what little free time I have, I plan to train and handle a therapy dog to assist our first responders.

4- I will continue to work with the great folks (many from APD) at Colorado Fallen Heroes Foundation. This amazing organization, in its short existence, has provided much needed assistance to various law enforcement agencies and the families of our fallen brothers and sisters when the unimaginable strikes.

5- And…wait for it…you might catch me at a coffee shop or two with my guitar and keyboard.

I did say I was retiring, right? ?

To City Management and City Council…I can’t thank you enough for all your support and confidence in both me and APD. There is no doubt you love this city and respect the amazing work our cops do each-and-every day. As a resident and voter of Aurora, it is now my turn to leave you with a charge. As I prepare to leave, I ask that you take good care of my APD. Please make sure that every employee, sworn and civilian, are provided the best equipment, training, salaries and benefits deserving of such professionals. I am leaving you with a world class organization. As an Aurora resident, I want to continue to be served and protected by the best law enforcement agency in the country. You should feel proud to take credit for helping to catapult this agency to where it is today. That said, I challenge each of you to protect your investment and help APD continue to be the best of the best.

To my APD family…there are none better. Simply put, for almost five years you’ve made me look good. I’ve said it several times, I’d put you up against any law enforcement agency, anytime. Each day you exemplify courage and pride that makes this city proud. Each day you put yourselves in harms-way for people you don’t even know. That is a testament to your character. There is story after story after story of kindness shown to community members going through their worst day, stories of incredible courage, stories of difficult cases solved and forcing those responsible to face justice, and stories of our APD family being there for each other when life delivers that unexpected sucker punch. It’s been my honor to have had a front row view of the great work you do each and every day. Because of that and so much more, you deserve the best when it comes to equipment, training, salary and benefits…a package that is commensurate with the quality of work you do. Even after I leave APD, I will continue to actively advocate for you to have the best pay and benefits befitting of an agency that demonstrates its incredible value, 24/7, 365 days a year. That’s a promise!

To my APD Family, as an Aurora resident I leave you with three charges: 1- Continue to go the extra mile for this amazing community, 2- celebrate the APD Family and be there for each other when it counts, 3- and finally, go home safe to your loved ones after every shift…physically and emotionally healthy.

I plan to be here till the end of the year and will be working with city management and APD command staff in the transition of leadership. During this time, I hope to have the chance to personally thank so many of you for all the great work you do.

Sara and I will continue to make our home here in Aurora and I hope our paths cross often. If there is ever anything I can do to assist you in the future, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Speaking of my beautiful wife, Sara, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank her for being an amazing friend and confidante. You’ve given me amazing support, love, and the occasional kick in the butt when it was needed.

Thank you to everyone else for helping to make this lifelong dream come true…making it fun (most times anyway) along the way. With the leadership of an incredibly capable, caring, and dedicated command staff, I am excited to watch from the sidelines the great things in store for APD.

I want to leave you with a variation of my favorite quote from Maya Angelou: “I may not remember everything you did, and I may not remember everything you said…but I will always remember how you made me feel.”

Finally, take good care of yourselves and each other.