NO CONFIDENCE: Aurora police union members revolt against chief in symbolic vote

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Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson takes questions from reporters at a press conference July 27, 2021 at Aurora city hall. PHOTO BY PHILLIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | A majority of Aurora police officers have said they do not have confidence in Chief Vanessa Wilson’s ongoing leadership of the department in a symbolic survey, escalating the turmoil for the beleaguered agency.

Members of the Aurora Police Department’s two labor unions, the Aurora Police Association and a local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, responded to a single-question poll this week voicing their lack of support for the chief, who was awarded the full-time role last August after serving as head of the organization on an interim basis for eight months.

Union members voted 442 to 16 against Wilson, with the majority responding “no” to the question: “Do you feel confident in the leadership of Chief Vanessa Wilson?,” according to Doug Wilkinson, head of the APA.

“She should be removed immediately,” Wilkinson wrote in an email.

Marc Sears, president of the local FOP branch, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Both unions boast several hundred members, and officers can opt to pay dues and join either or both organizations, which offer legal counsel and other resources to officers. The APA was the designated bargaining unit for officers for decades, but the FOP assumed that role following a vote in 2019.

Aurora police reported having 744 sworn officers in August, though several dozen of those workers are in roles that preclude them from being union members, according to city documents.

The vote was prompted following a CBS4 story published last week on a controversial traffic stop in May. The report on a Black man who reported being tackled and stunned with a Taser after nearly hitting officers with his car prompted Wilson to open an investigation into the incident.

That irked Wilkinson.

“After a recent event in which Chief Wilson restarted an investigation on officers who had already been cleared of wrongdoing by department experts the Aurora Police Association Executive Board determined it was necessary to hold a vote of no confidence on her administration,” he wrote.

The vote comes about a month after Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that a state grand jury had indicted several officers and paramedics on homicide charges related to the arrest of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died days after first responders restrained and sedated him, in August 2019. Weiser also recently published a damning report on the agency that outlined repeated patterns and practices of racially-biased policing in Aurora, which will likely cause the agency to be overseen by the state for years to come.

The announcements came as a record number of Aurora police officers were reported to have left the department so far this year, surpassing the number of departures in all of 2020. A total of 96 officers had left the organization as of the middle of September.

When asked for a statement from Wilson on the recent vote, a spokesperson for the Aurora Police Department referred a reporter to a deputy city manager, who serves the conduit between Aurora’s civil service workers and City Manager Jim Twombly.

Unlike in Denver, where the mayor has the final say on most issues, Twombly is tasked with effectively running the city.

“Chief Wilson has my full support to lead the agency,” Deputy City Manager Jason Batchelor said in a statement. “The members of this agency have my full support. She was selected because we believed, and still believe, that she is the right person. She accepted and embraced her role knowing significant challenges were ahead. She is responsible for making difficult and, at times, unpopular decisions to meet the needs of both employees and our community. Over the last 21 months, she has been a vocal champion for Aurora police officers while also making it clear that she supports implementing best practices. This vote comes at a time when there are a lot of changes underway for the policing profession. I believe we all share the same goal in supporting our officers and look forward to working with the FOP to address their concerns and restore trust.”

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DICK MOORE
1 year ago

Jason, come on, 446 to 16. That’s a complete lack of confidence in the leader of the APD from the rank and file. Yet, you have, “full support” in her ability to lead. How can anyone with these statistics not resign. I don’t get it nor do I understand the City leadership supporting this lady.

I think Jason, you have tied yourself to a sinking ship. I know you’re a better leader than this.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
1 year ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Having watched the FOP in action for years in multiple cities, I would fire anyone they backed. Police unions have backed some of the worst behavior by police. They are utterly shameless.

Wilson should get a raise. She’s obviously doing something right.

Doug King
1 year ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Regardless of what the members “think” they are there to do their job. Period. The mere fact I didn’t like my commander in my military unit didn’t mean a damned thing! Do your job and shut up! The chief is implementing what most of AURORA citizens want.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 year ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

The rank and file are the problem. You missed that. The police are pitting themselves against the public and this isn’t going to work out well for them.

Mr. Weaver
Mr. Weaver
1 year ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Yes Sir Mr. Moore, …Well Said!!!

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
1 year ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

No confidence from over paid gang members and street thugs. I bet the chief has out her tiny hankie and little violin. Luckily these morons work for the people and we are coming for their rice bowl. Time to get you snout out of the public trough Dick. (Or are you just a bootlicker?)

DICK MOORE
1 year ago
Reply to  Good Citizen

To call over 400 officers of the APD street thugs and gang members is beyond silly and demonstrates massive lack of thought. I think maybe you need a better fake name for your comments.

To imply that I’m a pig and a bootlicker is a statement that may or may not have merit but you certainly don’t have enough information to state it. I think maybe you should be less of a “name caller” and more of a “Good Citizen”.

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
11 months ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Quacks like a duck. Waddles like a duck. It’s a duck. (And on the payroll) Take care of that tongue, the boys need shiny shoes.

BilliePatches
BilliePatches
1 year ago

I know teams can’t fire all their players during or after a bad season, so they fire their head coaches instead. Still, I believe much uncomfortable change for the players is necessary, and this is where the resistance lies. I, for one, prefer for the beatings to continue within the APD until the morale improves. Don’t wimp out now; don’t hire a new chief who will accomodate the status quo.

Doug King
1 year ago

I don’t believe these members have any other beef then their chief is a gay woman. They’ll deny that. But if a man were at the helm, there would not be the same vote, IMO

Hsto
Hsto
1 year ago

The actual number of officers is about 660 down from nearly 800 in early 2020. APD is under intense pressure with this staffing level.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 year ago

And I vote “no confidence” in the police department, which I previously supported. And so they will wonder why the public doesn’t support them. This isn’t rocket science, officers. The Chief is trying to protect the public from you and you vote no confidence? So will you also wonder why you don’t have the faith and trust of the public? And the conservatives will say this is all the fault of the liberals. And tell us to be careful for whom we vote in the City Council election? Really??? This was not a wise move.

David Baird
David Baird
1 year ago

Quincy, you do a pretty good job being a propagandist…. No surprise there, with your one sided muck racking that shows your alignment with the left liberal socialist progressives. Why don’t you try to ‘pretend’ to be a journalist for once? “Damning” report? I guess you are so busy smearing the truth, you failed to read this article…. https://www.denverpost.com/2021/09/27/aurora-police-probe-attorney-general-brauchler/

Phony Phil and his boss Polis were on a witch hunt and knew the outcome before they even announced the investigation into Aurora PD.

john wilson
john wilson
1 year ago

If you knew her, you wouldn’t be surprised by this vote. The only surprise is it didn’t happen the day after she was picked for chief.

Last edited 1 year ago by john wilson
None
None
1 year ago

Politicians should be forced to patrol

Mr. Weaver
Mr. Weaver
1 year ago

Of course you fully support the ex- division of operations and now chief if police Mr. Batchelor: She’s involved as the rest of you are in the in-collusion conspiracy laden cover up the larceny case of my twin brother and I: Right up to your neck s!!! Mr. P. Weaver Oct 2, 2021

Mr. Weaver
Mr. Weaver
1 year ago

Remember: The FOP: Theur all on the same team however you sugarcoat it!!!

Mr. Weaver
Mr. Weaver
1 year ago

Thank you Sentinel fir the article(s) etc! Keep keep8ng them honest!

carol miller
carol miller
1 year ago

neither police association is ever happy with the chief regardless of who the chief is. sounds like they want to name new chief

Doug King
11 months ago
Reply to  carol miller

Luckily they cannot!

Dean
1 year ago

This story is like a broken record that we have had to listen to over and over. The city council couldn’t wait to put a handpicked solidly PC-soaked chief as scoring perfect on Aurora’s diverse wish list as Chief. Nick Metz was on his way out as he had taken enough non-sense political vectoring from city hall leaders and some heat simmering up from the ranks. There are no missing pieces here, so why now should we act surprised with the overwhelming rejection of the top cop from the rank-and-file cop? Something of this magnitude where chief Wilson has managed to create such misgivings and the strong disincentive to be working in law enforcement work, certainly there’s going be push-back. The potential the chief’s golden parachute package is under review. Conversations for a new and improved boss behind the scene are likely materializing. But, so big deal, these whizzes will steer this city into deeper political water once again. The problem this council learned nothing about choosing someone less interested in left-right policy but more focused in following the law. That’s the simple message from the union. Yet this council seems unwilling, unable or incapable to see the current wreckage basis. Anyone that watched the final selection process of choosing of the last chief was an impressive show of nothing but picking a politician in a blue suit with gold bars. And Wilson had the whole package.  And we have paid dearly for that thinking.
The city council election is around the corner, perhaps this city can get back on a high standard law enforcement trac… it’s about time.                 
Lastly, this article, and not unexpected within the report had left out one of the two sides of the State Grand Jury story. The one-side presented, and has AG- Phil Weiser – ending with a grand jury referral.  The another side unless folks happen to see it elsewhere and every bit as compelling by ex- DA  George Brauchler and his recent  different  perspective.        
 See link….
Brauchler: Phil Weiser’s Aurora PD report a cherry-picked cheap shot
 
https://pagetwo.completecolorado.com/2021/09/30/brauchler-phil-weisers-aurora-pd-report-a-cherry-picked-cheap-shot/