AURORA| Aurora police have become a part of a group that investigates injurious and lethal encounters between residents and cops in both of the city’s judicial districts, mirroring a current agreement APD has had with Denver police for years, prosecutors announced Friday.
The city’s police department is now part of the Critical Incident Response Team in both the 17th and 18th Judicial Districts, which prosecute crimes in all three of Aurora’s counties: Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas.
The groups comprise myriad agencies that investigate one another whenever violent encounters between cops and residents occur in an effort to instill objectivity. Previously, Aurora police were not a part of the groups, but had an agreement with Denver police to investigate injurious encounters in their respective jurisdictions.
A spokesperson for Aurora Police said they couldn’t comment on why previous police leaders had not entered into the agreements, but said Police Chief Vanessa Wilson has recently pushed to get Aurora into the fold. The group includes multiple other law enforcement agencies in the metroplex, such as the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Parker Police and others.
Aurora police said the move ensures local cops are not investigating themselves and endeavors to build more trust among community members.
”Our relationship with the two CIRT teams is another step towards my commitment to A New Way of serving our community,” Wilson said in a statement. “This partnership brings additional transparency into our critical incident investigations, and will promote trust with the community we serve.”
Wilson has enacted a series of changes since she was sworn in last summer to sew trust between residents and a beleagured department that has been the center of multiple scandals that have garnered international attention in recent years.
Recently elected prosecutors also commended the announcement.
”When a person dies or is injured during an encounter with police, the incident must be investigated thoroughly, independently and with integrity,” 17the Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason said in a statement. “That’s precisely what the Critical Incident Response Team does. With today’s announcement, I have much greater confidence that any such incident – whether it occurs in Aurora or another community in my jurisdiction – will be investigated properly.”
John Kellner, DA in the 18th Judicial District, echoed.
“We welcome the expertise of APD investigators as they will now reciprocate when needed for our other agencies,” Kellner said. “When I examine the facts of a shooting to determine whether charges should be brought, I need to know I am looking at an independent investigation. This move by APD is a step in the right direction.”
Aurora police will continue to investigate incidents in Denver, honoring a standing statutory agreement between the two agencies.